02: An Awkward Introduction

02:  An Awkward Introduction

 

Amongst the raging beats of the overlapping songs from multiple Orleans pubs, amidst the varied lights and sights the city offered at this time of night, though the raging sea of humanity celebrating an old city, Shaniqua walked us both back to the hotel. She never moved more than a few millimeters from my side, pressing her large soft breasts against my upper arm the entire way. It was a bit awkward, especially if you aren’t used to it, but it was an exquisite torture. Cate just kept grinning at my discomfort from my other side as she and Shaniqua kept up a running commentary around me. I was still in too much shock to follow much of it. The combined excitement of recent events and the promise that a romantic interlude has on an inexperienced teenager was enough to reduce my functioning neurons to an even lower level. Much lower—think ‘too much blood pumping south of the border’ lower.

I was amazed at what had occurred. A strange woman shows up and starts calling me Master and an Angel. When we finally got her calmed down and had a chance to speak quietly, she’d related a story so unfathomable I still couldn’t accept it, but Cate’s little experiment had been pretty convincing. This would require a lot of thinking but it just didn’t seem like the time, I told myself as I again felt her snuggle up against me. Not only did this woman think I was a magical being, but she seemed to be interested in me semi-romantically as well. To me, a shy retiring little high school senior that had only been on a few dates, the implications made my head want to explode.

Shaniqua told us more about herself, much of it interesting. My fascination was piqued by my attraction to her, I’m sure, but her personal history wasn’t as Earth shattering as the other news of the night. But we did revisit those topics as we wound our way through the crowd, though.

“So can you describe these lights you keep seeing?” Cate inquired, her eyes gleaming at the prospect of unlocking hidden scientific secrets.

“Well, it’s not that I ‘keep seeing them’, they are an actual part of my vision now,” Shaniqua explained before stopping to think about Cate’s question for a second as she groped for the proper words. “Actually, aura is the best word I can think of,” she finally said. “They’re similar to what psychics describe. Only these are different, well, I’ll call them ‘colors’ for lack of a better term. It looks like most people have a central color and a varying outer color, but I can’t really be sure about that. After all,” she added with a laugh, “I haven’t been observing people full of dancing lights for very long.”

“So do these auras always show through physical objects?” Cate continued, trying to get Shaniqua to focus on her descriptions rather than just on me as we continued walking.

“Normally, no. But Alex’s is so strong it overpowers whatever gets in its way. I assume his would be strong enough to show through walls, although….”

“Yes?” Cate prompted her, since she seemed to be lost in thought considering the question.

“I guess most auras show through clothes and things. So I guess that means that they’re not affected by physical limits; although I guess the denser the physical obstructions are, the more they limit them. Like walls block them more than clothing does, but these lights seem to operate on different physical limits than normal optics do. Guess we’ll have to test what I can see from a distance with various items blocking my view.”

“Great, more experiments,” Cate exclaimed, playfully rubbing her hands together, clearly excited by the prospects of future research.

“You realize you might not be qualified for that,” I warned as we reached the edge of the French Quarter and waited for the light to change allowing us to cross Canal Street. We were now leaving the excitement and noise of that tourist mecca for the quieter regions beyond, where we’d be able to be a bit freer with our speech, as well as a bit less distracted by all the activities.

“Yeah, but who else are you gonna get to do it?” Cate asked in response. “You can’t trust anyone else. You know no one else is going to be as dedicated to it. And figuring it’s going to take years of research to figure all of this out, doesn’t it make sense to have someone that can be trained completely from scratch so that she learns all the relevant expertise?” she asked sweetly.

“Alright, you’re hired,” I told her, “at least until we can afford somebody cuter.”

“Hey, you might find someone cuter, but you’ll never find someone who can get into your head better than I can,” Shaniqua responded as she tried to wink at me, failing miserably given she couldn’t even look at me directly. I’d have laughed if I hadn’t been afraid of offending someone who was intimating she might let me do things with her.

“I’m not so sure that’s something I’m looking forward to,” I cautioned, still wary of this whole theoretical telepathy nonsense. The last thing a shy young guy like me needed was someone poking around inside his head. As Cate had repeatedly told me earlier, there were just too many dark things hiding in there.

“You know,” Cate confided to us, whispering quietly so we wouldn’t be overheard, “you’re still getting a lot of looks, Alex. I wonder if it has anything to do with the attraction that Shaniqua felt. It’s certainly nothing you’ve ever experienced before.” I tried to smile and put on a brave face, but I knew what was coming as Cate turned to Shaniqua. “I don’t think anyone has ever given my brother a second look before. If he wasn’t so shy it would be one thing, but he’s always been so defensive and keeps himself so closed off that it’s hard for anyone to approach him.”

Man, here I am hoping I’m finally going to get some romance in my life, however brief, and my sister has to start telling the only one to show an interest in me that I’m a complete dweeb!

“It just may be,” Shaniqua answered her, ignoring any unintended jabs at my fragile male ego. “I can’t imagine that I’m the only one to feel this attraction to him. However, I imagine there aren’t many people who can feel it. I mean, right now I find it hard to believe no one can see his aura blazing like a miniature sun, but obviously no one can. I guess it’s the same with his ‘presence’. I can feel it, but for most people it just doesn’t seem to register.”

“We live in a really small town in southern Illinois,” Cate explained. “It may be that there just aren’t enough people there to have ever run across anyone who’s sensitive to whatever he’s giving off. If that’s the case, we’ll need to figure out just what it is. I’ve been noticing various women staring at him throughout the day, even during the drive here. And they’re all women, no men. For some reason men seem to be immune to his charms.” Luckily she smiled at the end of this comment, just to show me she was teasing. I think she knew I was feeling particularly awkward and was doing our gentle teasing thing to make me feel more comfortable about it.

We walked along for a few more moments then entered the hotel and walked through the lobby, remaining silent or keeping the conversation general so we wouldn’t attract attention.

“How do we know we aren’t ALL suffering from brain tumors and simply imagining this?” I asked. Cate just rolled her eyes, while Shaniqua laughed at our sibling interplay.

“There’s not much chance of that,” Cate argued. “What are the chances of us all having the same tumor, in the same place, at the same time, in the same stage of advancement, displaying the same symptoms? All shared symptoms by the way—and the chances of all those working together are less likely than alien anal probes.”

“But the anal probes are WAY more fun,” teased Shaniqua. At least I hoped she was teasing. But given how much we knew about her, just about anything was possible. If she’d goosed me right then I’d have probably jumped out of my skin.

The elevator arrived with a distinct ding and we all pushed our way inside the classic deeply stained wood elevator. “You know, we should see what Alex’s aura looks like in an elevator while we’re standing outside,” Cate suggested playfully.

This time I rolled my eyes at my sister. “You wouldn’t learn much Nobel Prize worthy material from that,” I chided her as the elevator began its short journey up to the third floor where our rooms were.

“No. But it would be fun to do.” They both laughed again. They were doing that together way too much. I had no idea how they managed to relate so well in the short time they were outside together. The elevator dinged again and the doors opened to reveal our floor.

“Nice hotel,” Shaniqua remarked, glancing at the ‘renovation chic’ decor of partially exposed brick alternating with fresh plaster.

“Yeah, we kinda like it. Of course, we haven’t seen any others,” my sister said.

“I have. Believe me, it’s nice. How … uh, I hate to ask this, but just how is your family situated financially?”

“Uh…, we’re comfortable I guess. We go to a public school, but that’s more my parents than anything else. They think it builds character. Plus it’s a fairly good school district, so there isn’t much crime,” I explained.

“So staying here isn’t a strain?”

“Uh, I’m not really sure. I don’t even know how much it is to stay here. We don’t get involved in our parents’ finances much; other than spending them into oblivion,” I teased.

“Yeah, I know how it is. How are you paying for college?”

“A combination of loans, scholarships, a bit of work and about as much help as my parents can manage. We have two other sisters. One still in college and one in graduate school,” I explained, telling her about our family for the first time.

“Oh, I didn’t know that. Are you all close?” Shaniqua asked. All her questions seemed to be directed to me. I guess it was that whole deferential thing. Cate would frequently answer for me, but mostly Shaniqua was just fascinated in me, and in hearing all she could either from or about me.

“Yeah, despite our being so much younger, we’re pretty close,” Cate explained. Becky, the eldest, is doing her graduate work while working for a medical research company. Both she and Melinda are only home during the summer these days. Melinda’s attending college near home in the same campus that Becky is.”

“Yeah, a house full of women, four of them in fact; Dad and I sometimes have to run screaming from the house, just so we’ll have an excuse to watch a football game,” I teased them both. We arrived at our door and I swiped my card through the slot on the door, opening it for all of us.

“Come on in,” Cate offered Shaniqua, “our parents won’t be home for a while. They’re likely call to make sure we’re not out getting drunk, but otherwise we’re on our own.”

“I guess I shouldn’t stay too long. They might not like it. I mean, they might think I’m here corrupting their son,” Shaniqua worried aloud, although the way she emphasized the word ‘corrupting’ led me to think she was teasing me and wasn’t as concerned as she made out.

“What? I don’t get to be corrupted as well?” Cate demanded, pretending to be outraged by the oversight.

“Well, maybe,” Shaniqua offered. “It depends on how ‘angelic’ you can be.” They both launched into another giggle fit as we entered the room; the question of whether she should enter the room or not apparently forgotten. Shaniqua looked around, taking everything in. “Nice décor,” she observed, looking at the exposed brick interior with nicely finished wood floors.

“Yeah, don’t know how much time we’ll be spending here, though. Want anything? We brought drinks. There’s always the cable TV,” I offered.  I was just managing to get over my combination of basic shyness and complete shock.

Shaniqua looked at me like I was nuts, so I just shut up and sat down on the bed. Cate purposely sat on the chair by the desk, leaving Shaniqua to sit beside me. She immediately curled up against me, resting her head on my shoulder, squinting her eyes and laying her hand on my thigh, running it back and forth.

“So…,” Shaniqua posed, letting the silence speak for her.

“No. I don’t think so,” my sister insisted in response to the unspoken question. “I’m not going to wander the halls, even if it’s only for the entire 20 seconds it’ll take for my brother to blow his wad at this point.” I’m not sure how much I appreciated my sister telling someone I was a short distance runner, but I hoped Shaniqua had gotten used to our peculiar sense of humor by now.

“You could always stay here,” Shaniqua suggested sweetly. I couldn’t believe the turn the conversation was taking.

“No thank you. I don’t think it’d help our sibling relationship for me to watch my brother get it on with somebody. Plus, it also be embarrassing having my brother watch me if I had to play with myself after watching the two of you,” she responded, enjoying the playful interplay they were developing. Shanique had adapted to our quirky repretoir better than our own older siblings.

“You know, I am sitting right here,” I interjected. My protest never seemed to register, however, as they continued as if I hadn’t said anything.

“That’s assuming you aren’t in the bed with us at the time,” Shaniqua added, further shocking me. I could just picture both girls in bed with me, and even though Cate’s my sister, I couldn’t help getting even more excited by the suggestion of a group scene. Shaniqua’s hand brushed over my erect cock to confirm what she already knew from the stress of the Levis under her hand. She smirked at me, but unable to look at me directly, it was more directed at my sister.

Cate just looked shocked, momentarily stunned into silence. About time, I figured. “I… I…,” Cate tried to reply.

“Relax,” Shaniqua said with a laugh. “I’m kidding. When we finally do it, I’ll make sure you’re hidden safely away in the closet.”

Cate still looked stunned. I was enjoying the turn-around. Of course I thought the idea was insane as well, but my cock, like that of any 17-year-old, was paying attention and I especially liked the fact that Cate couldn’t cope with this any better than I could with the other shit.

Just then the phone rang. Cate jumped like a scalded cat. Flustered, she fumbled the phone until she finally got it centered against her ear. “Hello?” Cate answered, even though she already knew who it was.

“Hi, Mom,” she replied after listening to the response. “No, we’re fine. How’re the two of you?”

While Cate was distracted by the call, I felt a certain hand resume caressing my crotch. I groaned and closed my eyes. When I opened them again Shaniqua was leaning into me, her own eyes closed. I leaned in and kissed her.

“I’m glad to hear it,” my sister replied, her face flushed slightly at Shaniqua’s and my antics, and she turned to face the wall so she could maintain her focus. “I’ve… I’ve… No. We’ve got something to talk to you about,” Cate hesitantly responded, only to attempt to break the news to our parents before we saw them. Trouble’s always easier to give and to receive when it’s abstract and far away.

I lost myself to the kiss. Her lips were soft and moist, and almost as soon as my lips made contact they parted, inviting my tongue in to explore; which it did.

“No, no, nothing that serious.” It sounded like she changed her mind. Not that I was paying much attention to what Cate was saying as my tongue excavated the treasures I found in this mysterious inviting cavern.

“No, it’s just that we met someone today that we’d like you to meet. We figured we could spend the day with her,” my sister temporized.

Shaniqua’s hand started actively stroking up and down my length, and my breathing grew deeper, as did hers. I brought my hand up to run along her side, pausing at the side of her chest. I held it from play out of my typical fear of going too far, of committing myself. I heard her giggle and shift to the side, shifting her body underneath my hand so it came to rest partially on her breast. My hand got the idea and crossed the remaining distance without any further assistance.

“No, she’s from here. We met while wandering around the Quarter,” Cate continued, sounding completely oblivious to our play, although I knew she had to be watching; which didn’t deter me at all. It wasn’t that I was trying to show off or embarrass her, but when you’re about to reach second base for only the second time, you don’t let minor things like your sister slow you down much.

I gently grasped her breast through her sundress, nervous about just how aggressive to be. I didn’t think I really needed to be skittish, but years of doubt wear on you, and it’s hard to make quick adjustments. She giggled again, so I took that as reassurance—the opposite reaction that giggles while making out normally produces—and I shifted my hand under the V of her dress, sliding under it to revel in the beauty of my first contact with a nearly naked female breast.

“No, she’s older.”

Shaniqua’s tongue joined mine in its explorations. They dueled and spared efficiently together. I thought it was lovely. She leaned more heavily into me, gently rolling over and lowering us both onto the bed.

“No, she’s out of school. She’s got a job and everything.”

I rolled us over until I was on top of her. I was slowly gaining enough confidence in my good fortune to take more of a lead. My other hand ran over her hip, coming to rest on her ample ass, giving it a hungering squeeze while evaluating its heft and responsiveness. It was a fine specimen.

“She’s finished college,” Cate continued, answering each question as tersely as she could; not wanting to offer anything that might lead her into admitting more than she was ready for. She was slowly admitting how old Shaniqua was only a bit at a time. I shifted, moving my leg between Shaniqua’s, keeping my erection available for her roaming hand.

“There’s good reason for her to be friends with us. We’re nice and we all get along well together.” Cate turned to glance at us, and then quickly looked away once more. “Plus she’s offered to be our tour guide.”

Our combined moans were starting to grow in volume, enough to threaten being heard over the phone, so I made an effort to tone it down, but it was tough.

“OK. We’ll talk to you when you get back. Or, if not then, in the morning. Have a good night. Bye, Mom.” I heard her hanging up so I allowed my moaning to return to the volume I wanted, something just short of screaming.

A moment later Cate jabbed me in the shoulder, so I regrettably broke the kiss but not the other activities. “Ummm?” I asked her, distractedly.

“Hey, knock it off. If I don’t get to play, nobody does,” Cate challenged me.

“Hey, yourself. I told you before, you can either play now, or wait until later when you’re safely hiding in the closet,” Shaniqua informed her.

This time Cate giggled nervously, but at least she was giggling this time. “Seriously, Mom and Dad will return … sometime before tomorrow morning,” Cate teasingly warned her.

“Yeah, we’ll be sure to be done by then, sweetheart,” Shaniqua replied, still stroking me while our kissing was on hiatus.

“I think we should consider what we’re going to reveal to our parents,” Cate responded simply.

Well, that certainly brought everything to a screeching halt. We both sat up and ran our hands through our rumpled hair, quickly straightening our clothing.


 

Cate and I escorted our parents into the hotel’s bar where they featured their breakfast buffet. Shaniqua informed us they’d have the city’s traditional café au lait, which she insisted we should try. Our parents were a bit nervous about meeting this ‘older woman’ who’d taken such a sudden unexplained interest in their teen-aged children, but we’d refused to comment, merely explaining we wanted to discuss some ‘issues’ with them. Needless to say, that made them that much more nervous.

After our amorous encounter the previous evening was interrupted by Cate’s pointing out our parent’s likely reaction, we spent the rest of the evening debating how best to broach the subject with them. Although she was hesitant to leave, Shaniqua eventually decided she needed to if we hoped to convince our parents that everything was ‘above board’.

Entering the breakfast area, I quickly searched for and found Shaniqua sitting at an isolated table near the back of the room. She’d called earlier, letting us know she’d arrived as planned to help explain to our parents exactly what was going on. I didn’t think it would be a very easy conversation, no matter how we approached it, but we’d spent a long time discussing the best approach last night. She was sitting meekly with her hands folded in front of her, a far cry from how she’d looked last night when she was coming on to me. She sat by the wall facing out with a big smile on her face, which I assumed was from seeing either me or my ‘aura’ approaching. She waved to get our attention.

She looked very nice this morning, nicely dressed in a professional but comfortable business outfit that seemed more relaxed and more feminine than a traditional business suit, but with a lower neckline, shorter skirt and more flowing material. She looked quite beautiful as I’d expected, but more importantly, she wouldn’t immediately scare my parents by looking too sexy. Presentation counts, especially when you’re planning to introduce your parents to a woman who plans to move in with you and dedicate her life to you.

As I began ushering my parents forward, my father leaned towards me and whispered, “Don’t look now, but the waitress over there can’t seem to keep her eyes off of you.”

This simple statement effectively floored me. While my father said it in a humorous mood, I realized what it entailed, imagining another encounter like the one I’d had the previous day with Shaniqua. ‘Just don’t look in her eyes,’ I told myself. ‘Just don’t look in her eyes.’

Apparently Cate heard my father’s whispered comment and approached me.

“Do it, Alex, go talk to her. Right now we need to find out if these women watching you are simply interested in your booty or whether they’re like Shaniqua.” When I hesitated she nudged me a bit. “Just think of it as research, just ask her who she is and see if she’ll talk. It’ll provide a good introduction for our talk as well. I’ll explain what’s going on to Mom and Dad. Go on,” and with that she gently pushed me towards the young woman, who I hadn’t even looked at yet for fear of making eye contact.

I tried to put on a confident front and approached her. As I neared her, I made sure I looked her dead in the eyes, but she didn’t recoil or react like I’d feared, instead she looked away nervously.

She was cute as a button, obviously Hispanic, with short hair and thicker lips than I was used to, and her skin had a golden hue to it. While not model thin, she looked healthy, very professional but also fairly hip. The most noticeable thing about her was her hair. Although a few strands of her native darker brown hair showed through, most of it was dyed an almost white shade of blond and cut short, leaving the combination a sort of punk fashion statement. It made her look really cool, at least to my shy sensibilities. She was also a hotel employee who was working the breakfast service.

“Hi, my name’s Alex. May I ask what yours is?” I know, I know, I thought it sounded amazingly weak as well. However she smiled while keeping her face down in embarrassment. Apparently I’d eased the awkwardness she’d been feeling at meeting me with the otherwise inane introduction.

“I’m Natalie,” she informed me, “Natalie Mendoza.” Yep, I was right, definitely Hispanic.

Since I knew I could safely look at her, I took a good look of her. She, like most of the others I’d observed around New Orleans so far, looked quite attractive. True, New Orleans did have an abundance of overweight unhealthy people, but it also had a very large collection of quite pretty people who appeared to be ready to have fun in the Big Easy. Natalie was certainly one of the pretty ones, though I doubted she was in a mood to party while working her hotel job.

She wasn’t particularly tall, I’ve never been very good at guessing sizes, but if I had to, I’d probably say around 5’4” or so. Her hair let you know she was young and hip, yet it looked good with her little uniform. She was blushing now as she observed me watching her, and her demur look with her eyes downcast just made the whole look. She was a little heavier than either Shaniqua or Cate, but lighter than my mother. Again, I wouldn’t mind being seen with her, but I saw what a comment like that could result in. I’d said the same thing about Shaniqua and now here I was, about to introduce her to my patents before telling them she planned to move in with us. I had to shake my head to get my thoughts back on track.

“Look, I was wondering—”

“Sorry to interrupt, but I could tell my shy brother needed some help over here,” Cate hurriedly said by way of introduction, having snuck up on us without my noticing. If I ever needed a secret mental power it would be a spider sense so I could anticipate moments like this. “My name is Cate Jennings. I don’t know if Alex introduced himself yet, but as I said, he’s my brother. We’re here with our family. I was trying to get my brother to ask you something we’re both interested in. Namely, were you looking at Alex simply because you thought he was cute, or was there something more involved?”

I couldn’t believe my sister. First, that she’d send me over here alone and then immediately pounce before I had a chance to say anything, and then that she’d ask a complete stranger such a direct question. However, Natalie look relieved after Cate asked her.

“No, no, normally I don’t leer at customers, especially anyone so young,” she informed us, effectively crushing any pretense I might have had concerning my newfound attraction to the ladies. “But there’s just something about him. I don’t know what it is, but I’ve been unable to resist watching him. It’s like he’s drawing me towards him. It’s like there’s something about him that—”

“Yeah, yeah,” Cate cut her off. “Look, can you hold that thought for a moment. Alex and I are introducing our parents to someone else who went through the same thing, and it would help if they could hear this from you themselves. Please, we’ll tip you or order something if that’ll help, but we’re in a bit of a pickle trying to explain this to our parents.” Then, without waiting for her to respond, Cate grabbed Natalie’s hand and pulled her along, heading for our parents. I was left behind with my mouth hanging open as I hurried after them trying to catch up.

“Mom, Dad, I think you need to hear what this… Sorry, I don’t think I got your name?” Cate said, beginning to make the awkward introduction to our parents.

“It’s Natalie,” I managed to get out, just managing to catch up to them. “Natalie Mendoza.”

“Well, Natalie, these are our parents. I’ll introduce everyone in a minute, but I want to introduce the person we’re here to meet.” She started to turn but I decided I’d better make my presence felt, no pun intended. When we’d talked it over the night before we agreed that I should establish the lead role in order to assure my parents that I wasn’t being led astray, so I decided to go with that thought now. Moving forward, easing Cate aside, I took Natalie’s arm in mine and guided her to the table where Shaniqua was watching us with a curious expression.

“Mom, Dad, this is Shaniqua. Shaniqua, these are our parents, Frank and Linda,” I explained. “Shaniqua, Mom, Dad, this woman we just met is Natalie Mendoza. She works here at the hotel. My father and Cate noticed her watching me and we thought she may have some input that you could stand to hear,” I informed everyone. My parents muttered their greetings, being cordial if not exactly warm, mostly just looking perplexed about the whole thing. Conversely, Natalie and Shaniqua looked like they belonged, appearing confident and assured of their position here. They just took everything in stride as if they expected this kind of thing from me. Dad sat down opposite Shaniqua, meaning he’d be facing away from the room, helpful if he got apoplectic over something we might say, and Mom sat down beside him. Cate and I sat on either side of Shaniqua, or Shani as she told us to call her, while Natalie stood between my parents and me, playing the role of the server simply waiting for us to explain what was going on.

“So what is this little assignation all about?” inquired my father, shooting me a look as everyone settled around the table. “You’ve been very secretive, and I find it suspicious that two complete strangers suddenly have something important to tell us, while our kids won’t say a thing.”

“First, let’s go ahead and order so we won’t be unduly interrupted during our discussion,” Shani suggested, clearly hoping to ease the tension somewhat. “I’d suggest a nice cup of café au lait. It’s kind of a requirement when visiting New Orleans, as well as some sinful little raspberry croissants I saw before.”

My parents looked dubious at the apparent ease with which this woman took the introduction of a member of the waitstaff into our private discussion, but everyone else seemed to ease into the situation.

“That’s an excellent suggestion,” Natalie said. “She’s right, the café au lait is a well-known New Orleans treat and the croissants are simply divine.” Everyone agreed and we managed to order, Mom thanking Shani for her assistance. Finally we were arranged and ready for the discussion, Natalie taking her former place ready to do whatever we decided was necessary. I didn’t know if this was typical behavior for the hotels’ staff, but I appreciated her easy manner.

“OK, Natalie, I think you should begin by describing what you felt when you first noticed Alex,” Cate stated, taking over the lead role from me once again, something I was all too ready to hand over to her. “I know it’s not going to be easy, but just try to describe it as best you can.”

“Well, it’s strange,” Natalie described, running her hand through her short hair as she struggled with words to describe what she’d felt. “I had this odd feeling and looked up, somehow knowing intuitively where to look. I’d noticed you entering the dining room but hadn’t paid much attention since you weren’t near my station. But once I noticed Alex I just couldn’t keep from staring at him. I have no idea what it is. He isn’t even my type. I traditionally like older men with a more physical appearance, but I just felt myself drawn to him.” Natalie didn’t seem to have any compunction about revealing her fascination about me to all of us.

“Did you notice any particular feelings when you’re near him?” my sister asked.

“Well, aside from what I described, I had this feeling that he’s someone important. I guess not as much important as powerful. He seems like a force unto himself.” Cate smiled at this and was positively beaming as she took over the conversation.

“You see, Mom, Dad, ever since we’ve gotten here I’ve been noticing women watching Alex. Not just glancing at him, but openly staring at him. At first I thought maybe he was coming into his own and a few women were noticing how good looking he is, but more and more just couldn’t look away. Then Shani showed up. Shani, do you want to describe how you found us?”

“Well, Mr. and Mrs. Jennings, my coworkers and I were attending a dinner. We were preparing to leave when I had this sudden sensation of a strong physical presence pulling at me, as if demanding my attention. I knew it was a spiritual presence, but it had a real physical component to it. I felt it inside the restaurant but I could immediately pinpoint where it was and exactly how far away it was, despite the intervening walls, and I could feel your son as he moved about.

“Needless to say, I’ve never felt anything similar, but like Natalie said, I felt this tremendous power and was compelled to follow it. I just knew it was important, and that it was going to physically change my life when I encountered it. So I left the restaurant, following this compunction out into the street. I followed it for several blocks, hurrying since I didn’t know how long it would remain. When I got close I yelled for Alex to stop and when he did he looked into my eyes.”

“You should have seen it, Dad,” Cate said, jumping in, her excitement bubbling over. “As soon as their eyes met her head jerked back just like something hit her right in the face and she stumbled back.” I watched my parents to gauge their reactions. So far they seemed to be pretty guarded, but they were following every word Cate and Shani were describing. At least our presentation was good; we’d see whether it was believable or not later.

“It turns out Alex did something to her then,” Cate continued. “He didn’t do it intentionally, nor did he have any idea of what he did, but he somehow triggered something in her. Go on, Shani, describe what happened.”

“Well, I was already expecting something magical to occur as I approached him. I’ve never felt something so powerful before, nor have I ever heard it described, so I knew I was encountering something unheard of. Still, I was completely unprepared for what happened. As soon as our eyes met there was this blinding flash. It was so bright I couldn’t see, so I stopped running. As it faded away, I noticed that my vision had changed. I couldn’t see Alex any more. All I could see was this tremendous glow where he stood. Glancing around I saw that everyone around me had a similar glow, but much dimmer than Alex’s. Everyone’s was colored differently, but here’s the strange part, they were covered with colors I’d never experienced before. It’s like Alex gave me a new sixth sense, a new type of vision with a whole new color spectrum.”

“We talked later,” Cate jumped in again, her excitement making her overenthusiastic. “It seems like it may be some kind of life energy. Of course we have no real clue, since we can’t observe it ourselves, but Shani says that it surrounds people and plants to a lesser extent. She also says that when someone touches something it leaves a faint glow behind, like people leave a trace of themselves behind on anything they encounter.”

“Wow!” Natalie let out. “I knew there was something about him. This is amazing. So how come nothing like that happened to me?”

“I have no clue,” Cate continued. “Nothing like this has ever happened to Alex before. Hardly anyone ever noticed he even existed. I suspect it’s because there aren’t many people who can pick up whatever energy signal he’s giving out, and our small town likely doesn’t have anyone with the ability. Here in a bigger city there are quite a few who can, but only one who seems to have been primed for whatever Alex did to her.”

Once again I watched our parents to gauge their reaction. I could detect a strong hint of disbelief so I signaled Cate and spoke up for a change. “OK, Dad, what are you thinking? You don’t look like you believe any of this.”

He sat and considered his words before speaking, then spoke slowly and carefully. I’ve got to give my father his due, he’s a thoughtful person who considers his words before he speaks, and usually makes pretty good points with only a few carefully chosen words.

“Well, I’m not sure just how believable any of this is,” he stated carefully before turning to Shani. “Basically, aside from the word of our waitress here, we’re taking all of this as gospel based upon Shani’s word that it’s all true.”

“We thought you might think that, that maybe I’m a charlatan or a con-man. I brought along a few things to help establish myself,” she stated in her defense and looked into her purse. She drew out two letters and handed them over to my parents, handing them cards as well.

“These are my resume and business cards. As you can see, I’m gainfully employed with a well-known firm.” My father was preparing to say something so she hurried to complete her thought.

“Yes, I know, those can be faked. But you’ll notice it’s a well-established firm. You can call the number on the card, but it would probably be better if you called the Better Business Bureau and asked them about the businesses, and then get the corporate offices from them. It’ll take a little longer, but you’ll have more faith that it’s not a scam if you go through the extra steps. I work in the Human Resources department so you’ll likely get someone who works with or at least knows me when they connect you, but I doubt anyone there would want to jeopardize their career by lying about a questionable coworker. I’ve been working there for many rewarding productive years, so I’m pretty well established. I’m also sure you’ll be able to have your business do a background check on me. You’ll find that I have no criminal record, that my picture matches my face and that I’ve got a decent financial record. I’m not a fly by night operator who’s looking to get something from you or your family.”

Shani took a breath after her little speech. My father just watched her, again measuring his response before speaking.

“I’m glad you came prepared, as that was exactly what I was thinking, and those are the steps I’ll be sure to follow. However, assuming you are being honest, just what does all this mean? It sounds like my son just happened to glance at you when you had a mini-stroke. That would account for all your symptoms. I don’t know what these visions mean. It’s possible you damaged your retina, as that would explain the colors you’re seeing. But assuming you’re correct, there’s no certainty that Alex had anything to do with it. Why are you assuming he’s this powerful force that drew you in?”

Cate steeled herself for this; we’d expected this type of response. Before she could respond, though, Shani answered.

“I could feel it, both before and after he did this for me. Even now, I can feel this power emanating from him, and so can Natalie. And from what Cate’s observed, I’m guessing you’ll be able to find plenty of others who can feel it as well. This isn’t some accident that only affects one person. Your son has some sort of amazing ability, and we owe it to him to find out what it is and how he can utilize it.

“There’s something we didn’t explain yet, Dad,” Cate hurriedly continued. “It seems that after Alex did whatever he did to her, that they can now exchange ideas with each other telepathically.” My father and mother both drew back a bit at this, but the most surprised reaction was from Natalie.

“Oh cooool, you mean he can read your mind?” she excitedly asked Shani.

“Well, no, he doesn’t really read my mind,” she protested weakly.

“And the messages aren’t very clear,” Cate added. “When she first encountered us she got a clear message but when we tried to duplicate it, we got definite messages but they weren’t terribly clear. We tried to send specific numerical messages so we’d know if the exact information got through, and it did, but Alex and Shani had to struggle a bit with interpreting them.”

“Exactly,” Shani explained. “It’s not like he’s reaching into my head and pulling information out. It’s as if he’s picking up the thoughts that are directed at him. So he’s not physically reading my mind as much as we’re communicating.”

“I think I may have to see that demonstration myself,” Dad replied, and I agreed that made sense.

“There’s no problem with that. We expected it. It’s the only convincing evidence that we have that any of this is real,” Cate explained.

“OK, are there any other weird events we should know about?” my father asked us, suspecting we were reserving the worst news for last.

“Well, we’ve got a few things to work out. First, Mom, Dad, I’ve got a highly embarrassing question to ask, but please bear with me, there’s a valid reason why we have to ask,” Cate asked, waiting for their response.

“OK, dear, go ahead,” our mother responded, “you can ask but we won’t commit to answering until we hear just how embarrassing it is.”

“Here goes. Mom, Dad, is Alex really your own biological son? Not that we suspect he isn’t or anything,” she hastened to add.

Mom and Dad looked a bit taken aback. “Yes, of course he is,” my mother quickly answered. “I should know, as I was there during my fifteen hours of labor. Why on earth would you ask something like that?”

“Your terminology will seem funny in a moment,” responded Cate, smiling at my Mother’s turn of phrase. “But it’s important for what we’re discussing. If you don’t mind, I’ll do some DNA tests just to document it, but with something as unbelievable as telepathy one’s mind naturally jumps to equally unbelievable explanations. Clearly humans aren’t capable of communicating telepathically, there just isn’t any physical mechanism in the human brain to carry it out, which makes one consider different alternatives.”

“You aren’t calling your brother an alien, are you?” Mom asked, her voice taking on a note of irritation.

“The topic has to be raised, just because someone’s going to ask it at some point,” Cate tried to defend what we knew was already a weak point.

“It’s not really a serious argument,” I told them. “We just thought we had to address it. Both Cate and I are a bit hung up on the notion that there’s nothing inside the brain that can transmit thoughts through space.”

“Yeah,” Cate added, getting back into the discussion. “I’m looking forward to getting Becky involved and testing him when we return to see if he’s broadcasting any kind of waves that are strong enough to measure.”

“No doubt, I knew you’d want to do some experiments,” replied my father, being fully aware of my sister’s strange obsession with all things scientific, like the various Science Fair projects she’d dedicated months to each year. Again, Cate laid out the appropriate sheets of sketchbook paper before mom and dad.

“The preliminary tests we conducted on their telepathy were simple, but were fairly conclusive. We haven’t done any extensive testing, like how far away they can be or what restrictions might apply. However the testing that Becky can do would be more extensive. She could test for this more scientifically than just asking a few questions.”

”So what does the fact they seem to communicate telepathically mean?” asked my father, always a bottom line kind of guy. My sister knew this and respected it, as it always aided her presentations when she presented them to the family.

“Right now we don’t know enough to have any clue. I could pretend to have some idea and say something about a common genetic trait, but honestly, I’m not sure there is one. There very well could be something in Shani and Natalie that draws them both to him, but I think it’s something inherent in Alex that triggered this ability in Shani. He’s a catalyst, if you will. He caused something to occur in her that allowed her to see these visions and allowed her to communicate with him. I don’t think she had any of these abilities before she first met Alex. I’m sure she’ll tell you this is the first time anything like this has ever happened to her.” Shani eagerly nodded her confirmation.

“The only other theory that springs to mind is that maybe he and Shani are somehow related, and that maybe it’s a shared trait. That’s why I want to do DNA tests to see if they’re distantly related. But I’m guessing they’re just two random individuals with no apparent connection. That’s why I made the comment about your choice of words earlier, Mom, because in a case like this we’ll have to make sure that Alex isn’t some kind of alien spawn,” she teased, helping to relieve some of the inherent tension from a revelation such as this.

“So my son reads minds?” asked my mother, still not having gotten beyond that stage of the conversation.

“No. He can read a single mind, Shani’s,” Cate emphasized. “Or rather he can communicate with her, there’s no mind reading involved. It’s nothing too extreme to be worried about. It’s about the genetic equivalent of a crude cell phone. Still, scientifically speaking, it’s significant. Can you imagine what this would have meant in a group of cave men say anywhere from fifty thousand to only five thousand years ago, given the small minority of people with this ability able to communicate telepathically with each other? Yet, given telephones and cell phones it now sounds relatively passe. But this is a monumentally important scientific discovery. I plan on riding my brother’s new ability all the way to a dedicated scientific career based on these abilities.”

“You’re planning on basing your entire academic future and possible career options on a ‘trick’ your brother and his friend can do?” our mother asked, raising her eyebrow to emphasize her point.

“Yes. Of course, it’s possible this is just a temporary fluke. Maybe it’s not as significant as I believe it to be. Maybe it’s just caused by certain isolated conditions. But I think it’s significant enough that it could be a major field of study.”

“I’m not sure I want my son to be a ‘major field of study’,” protested my mother.

“Don’t worry. As I stated, this really isn’t significant enough to worry about government spies kidnapping them or anything. It’s about as useful as a card trick right now. But we’re going to be cautious all the same. The last thing we need is to allow its study to fall into the hands of some big corporate biotech firm that’ll allow the super rich to communicate without fear of wiretaps.”

“Damn! I wasn’t even asking about all those possibilities,” my mother replied. “I was simply asking about your future.”

“How are you going to study it if you can’t tell anyone about it?” reasonably asked my father, ignoring Mom’s newest concerns.

“Very carefully and very discreetly. Luckily Becky may be able to hide her tests in amongst her other studies. I’ll have to hide my interests amongst my other studies, and pick subject matter related to this particular interest. We’ll probably confide in specific trusted individuals, but that’s unlikely as there’d be no sort of confidentiality agreement that would apply here.”

“So you’re expecting your sister to jeopardize her temporary position at the university so you can run unauthorized experiments on your brother?” Dad asked, looking pointedly at Cate, luckily leaving me out of this part of the discussion.

“I hope you’re not implying that your brother is some kind of genetic freak or anything,” warned our mother.

“No way, Mom, as I said, I’m not even sure this is genetically based. You also know I care about Alex a great deal. I’m not going to let this affect our relationship. Besides,” she smiled, “I’m going to be dependent upon him for years and years of important scientific study. I’ve got to be nice to him.” My mother seemed appeased by this.

“What does this mean for Miss Shaniqua?” queried my father. Shani responded immediately.

“I’m taking this as a significant event in my life, Mr. Jennings. I’m willing to work with Cate and Alex to figure out just what is going on. Plus, it kind of puts Alex and me on a fairly personal level with our being able to communicate so intimately with each other.” I thought she was talking out of her hat, since we could hardly converse with it, and we didn’t know the limitations involved yet. But her choice of words was intimating more, and that’s where everyone focused.

“How ‘significant’, how ‘personal’, and exactly how ‘intimate’?” asked my father, again in an arched tone.  Everyone had the immediate understanding of what he was implying.

“I figure it’s going to be fairly intense. I’m already willing to give up my home here if it’ll help. I can do my job anywhere I need to.”

“And is the interest ‘personal’ or ‘intimate’?” he pushed.

“Both, to be honest. Being in this type of intense communication tends to foster a ‘special interest’,” she responded, quoting the defense we’d decided on the night before.

“So you’re already planning on being intimate with my son,” Mom stated, instantly imagining this new woman suddenly corrupting her son, I’m sure. “Doesn’t the age thing have any effect on you?”

“Honestly, I was a bit worried about the potential of ‘corrupting a minor’, but I already checked the age of consent in Illinois. It’s seventeen, so legally we’re safe. However, don’t worry too much; I’m much too indebted to your son to want to rush him into adulthood. I want him to be able to enjoy what he can of his childhood,” Shani stated, trying to both defend her planned actions while still appeasing our parents.

“Well, don’t wait too long,” Cate responded, interrupting the conversation between my parents and Shani. “He’s almost 18, nearing graduation, and he’s seen less action than anyone else I know at school.”

I could feel my face growing warm as she spoke. “Cate!” I warned, but she just turned and stuck her tongue out at me, letting me know she was teasing.

“We’ll discuss what you and your friends have ‘seen’ later, young lady,” Mom responded before turning back to Shani. “And just what might this entail?”

“We’ll see what happens between us. We’ve only known each other a few hours. We can’t speak about what may or may not occur,” Shani temporized.

“OK then. I guess we’ve been duly warned,” responded my mother a bit frostily.

“And what of you, Miss. Shaniqua? You’ve told us about your job and even supplied us with a resume, which I must say is fairly unique in the way of introductions. I never really expected Alex to introduce a potential girlfriend with a resume, but what else can you tell us about yourself? What kind of person are you?” inquired my father. I was proud of Shani for handling herself so well in the face of such pointed questions.

“I work in the HR department of a food distribution company here in Orleans,” she responded. “Although it’s early in my career, I’m not exactly married to this particular job. I come from a proud and comfortable family. A family I’m close to, one that taught me my morals and dedication.” My father actually smiled at this response, kind of killing the tough guy approach he was going for.

“College?”

“Mississippi State. Finances, accounting and financial services.”

“Good,” was his only reply.

“How can you, a reasonable, attractive young woman be attracted to my son, an innocent young man?” asked my mother.

“As I stated, we’ve got this special common interest that unites us. As far as any attraction goes, only time will tell.”

“I’m assuming this common interest will be sexual then? Since you’ve already stated you aren’t going to be deterred by the law,” my mother pressed.

“MOM!” I cried out in embarrassment.

“Yes. In fact it will,” Shani answered directly.

“It’s about time. They’ve already made out by the way,” teased my sister, not helping at all.

My mother couldn’t help it, she grinned unintentionally. “He’s so cute when he blushes like that,” she enthused.

“If you’re so interested in my son, why can’t you look him in the eye?” asked my father.

“I thought I mentioned that, while I can see this glow around everyone—Cate calls it people’s auras—Alex’s is so powerful that his is amazingly bright. I simply can’t look at him for long. It’s like looking into the sun. It’s overpowering. I even have trouble seeing anyone standing near him.”

“Oh,” my father responded, caught short by her answer.

“Anyway, that concludes this part of our presentation,” Cate said in a teasing aside to her previous scientific presentations for my parents at home growing up. “Now if there are no further questions, we can discuss what we have planned for today.”

Dad quickly protested. “Wait a minute, don’t push us off so quickly. What about a demonstration? All this build up and we don’t even get to play with the samples?”

“I thought someone else might want to play with the samples,” my sister muttered under her breath, just loud enough for everyone to hear, but low enough for them all to get the impression is wasn’t meant for public comment. They all laughed at that, despite the earlier tensions.

So we conducted further tests. Natalie was disappointed she couldn’t join us in our experiments. She seemed even more excited than Cate was, but we told her she could join us after she got off work, as we didn’t want to get her in trouble with her job because of her interest in me. The various experiments were done with supplies Shani had picked up for us at a local drug store. We tested distance, between concrete hotel floors, with a variety of possible constraints involving various metals, insulation and such. It didn’t seem to impede us, but the communications were sometimes quite clear, but other times just vague impressions that needed to be reworded just to get an intelligent response. This was going to take a little work.

And my parents both seemed to take the exceedingly brief discussion of such an unbelievable event rather well. Cate stated that she couldn’t explain what we didn’t understand yet and that we’d clearly discuss things as they came up, but they just seemed to take it all in stride. As I said, maybe my parents weren’t so typical after all.

 

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