MOMENTUM

Book Two
Lisa Marie Arnopp

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

About thirteen years earlier… Gregory Andrews looked out the window wondering where his dad was taking him. Wherever it was, it couldn’t be good. Not after he shoved Brad down for taking Meg’s doll. He only meant to get the toy back but he jumped on Brad when he taunted him for being a momma’s boy. Despite the undeniable fact that Brad started it, Greg understood he was in big trouble. He knew better than to hit anybody.

1

They had just left his kindergarten after his father had a long discussion about his behavior behind closed doors with Father Francis. Andy, his father, hadn’t said a word since. The silence was torture. Greg couldn’t believe his eyes when they pulled into the Family Fun Zone parking lot. “We’re playing putt-putt golf?” He sat up tall wondering what the catch was. “No.” Andy answered mysteriously. They walked to the far side of the building where the batting cages were. It was better than golf. He had begged his father to take him since he could talk and now when he had been so bad, he was finally going to bat like the big boys. Andy bought some tokens, a shiny new bat and gloves for Greg. They walked down to the slow pitch machine. He sat down on the bench and patted for Greg to sit next to him. Greg sat sure it was a trick and a punishment was coming. “Father Francis told me what happened.” His father’s kind eyes scanned over Greg and then his strong arms wrapped him in an ironclad hug. “You’re mother isn’t coming back. It’s my fault not yours.” He was near tears. “Never think it was because of you.” Greg wept. It wasn’t a shock. After three years, how could it be? It still hurt to hear. “I don’t care.” He sniffled. “I’ll do whatever I can to make sure you never lack anything.” Andy didn’t ease up his hold. “I love you, Greg. Never forget that.” “Me too Dad.” Greg wiped his hand across his snotty nose clearing away the mucus puddle that had formed. Andy mussed up his hair. To Greg that was a greater sign of love than any words could ever be. Then his father cleaned off his hands and face with a wet nap. “Hi Greg.” Brad said.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


2

Greg looked up feeling like a baby crying in front of Brad. Brad’s eyes were raw and red. Clearly he had been crying as well. “I’m sorry for taking Meg’s doll and calling you a momma’s boy.” Brad hung his head in shame. “I didn’t know.” Regardless of context, Greg wanted to hit him again. Instead he nodded. Brad’s father nudged his back and the boy held his hand out. “Friends.” “That’s very nice of you Brad.” Andy encouraged the kids. “Greg, what do you have to say?” It was a trick. Andy wanted him to be nice to Brad. The urge to hurl himself to the floor kicking and screaming swelled. Then he saw a man in the cages. Not any man but Jim, his new next-door neighbor and his father’s best friend. Greg didn’t have a mother like the other kids but he had a second dad. That was better. Jim smiled at Greg. “I got you something.” He took off his St. Ignatius’ cap and punched it into shape. “It isn’t new but you have asked me for it a hundred times.” Greg smiled despite his foul mood. It was Jim’s lucky hat and exactly like his dad’s. He had to be nice to Brad to play ball and get the treasured cap. It might not be worth it but he said, “Friends.” He shook Brad’s hand as hard as he could. They never fought again – at least not on opposite sides.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

St. Iggy’s Prom

3

Greg didn’t care much for non-athletic school functions. His junior prom was an exception. Kate was the reason for his change of heart. He wanted her to have a great time. She wasn’t a girlie girl, more like a softer version of a tomboy. She had three older brothers and they were very close. That helped her appreciate some guy things like baseball. Those little benefits added up to make her a perfect girlfriend. On the flip side her brothers were very protective. Matt and Eric were twenty-one-year old identical twins. So identical that most people couldn’t distinguish one from the other. Greg and Eric were closer friends and that made him one of the few outside of the immediate family that knew the difference. They didn’t start out on good terms, quite the opposite. Eric had been a thorn in his side when he first met Kate. The twins could be a handful even without their special skills but telekinesis and telepathy made them more formidable when they wanted to be, which was more often than not. Brian, her youngest older brother, was much easier to approach from the get go. He had the same skills. He wasn’t as keen on the idea of playing guard dog and therefore didn’t resort to metaphysics to interfere as readily. Kate wasn’t without her gifts. She was born with telepathy and empathy, like her brothers because they had the same mother. She had a different father and from him she learned how to share dreams with people. Once she even pulled Greg through to her side. That side of her family was also very close to animals. She could have simple conversations with her pet watch cat, Zuzu. Additionally she had a gift for shutting down other’s gifts. Her brothers called it deterrence because she often stopped them from cheating or pulling some prank. They found they had it as well but Kate was the best having used it so many times. Unlike her brothers, who weren’t initially as interested in the empathy, she had honed her skills to be able to learn and share gifts. The older adults hadn’t learned from Kate but her brothers and Greg had no problem absorbing new skills with her help. Of all her multifarious gifts, empathy was the hardest to deal with in a relationship. At first it was an aid bringing them closer but hiding things from her was near impossible. Since it was a two-way communication, he could pick up her moods plus he had picked it up from her. Thankfully the deterrence could minimize the intensity but they were emotionally exposed constantly without it. If they did hide

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

emotions, it raised alarms. Kate and her brothers were able to conceal select parts of their feelings and minds. Greg hadn’t reached that level. Greg had his own paranormal powers even before Kate shared with him. He could blank out people’s senses. It was limited. He could only impact one person at a time. It proved helpful on a few

4

occasions. He had inherited that from his mother who he hadn’t seen since he was a toddler. Andy, Greg’s father, was able to see through people’s eyes and it was passed on to Greg. They could only use it with people they were extremely close to. Outside of family members, his father only saw through his best friend’s eyes, Kate’s father Jim. Greg had seen through Kate’s eyes. The only problem was Greg couldn’t hear what was being said. It could be very confusing. A trick they developed to work around that limitation was to see what people were writing. Seeing through Kate’s eyes proved to him that they were destined to be together. His father had never seen through his mother’s eyes and they were married for almost five years. Unfortunately, Greg had been reluctant to move on Kate when he first met her because his cousin Dave had expressed interest. Even after that proved fruitless he didn’t know how to go forward without hurting Dave’s feelings. His bouts of casual flirting and vocal denials confused her and she withdrew. Greg thought he hid it well. Eric saw right through him and disapproved. The more the big brother in Eric tried to scare Greg from his sister, the more Greg expressed interest. When Greg would come off too strong, he would make some callous comment about it meaning nothing to Kate to cover his true feelings. She would pout and Eric would revel. Then Eric would try to maximize the affect and Greg’s ego would spur on another attempt to openly flirt followed by another denial of any interest. It was a cycle that broke the day Eric accepted that Kate was too old to keep her locked away and that Greg was a good guy. Outside the cycle, Greg and Kate were stuck in purgatory of just friends. When Kate started casually dating Chris, a baseball player from the public high school, Greg was forced to be bolder. He had always been so cocksure with her before she started spending time with Chris. It put some fear in Greg that he could lose her from inaction. He didn’t give Chris a chance to worm his way in too deeply. Kate told him later that it was on Eric’s advice that she started dating other guys to either get over Greg or incite him to act. Greg would never thank Eric no matter how grateful he was for the catalyst. Eric’s ego needed feeding like the fires of hell needed to turn up the heat.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

Greg looked himself over in the mirror. His brown hair was freshly cut and his blue eyes smiled back at him as if his reflection was telling him that the prom would be good fun for him as well as Kate. He was six one and looked ridiculous in the rented tux. If he had his way, he would take Kate to a

5

ballgame. She always looked so cute in a baseball cap and she couldn’t hide behind her hair as she so often did when things got personal. “This is for Katie.” He told his image. It had been a long year for Kate. She lost her grandmother on her mother’s side that she hadn’t even met. At the funeral her life dramatically unraveled. She learned she had a different father than her brothers, moved to Santa Katrina to live with her biological father, and enrolled into St. Iggy’s, which couldn’t be easy for a public school kid. Then her grandmother on her stepfather’s side decided to take revenge on Kate and her mother. She tried repeatedly to hurt Kate. Gran, her wicked grandmother, was also gifted at telekinesis and used it to harass Kate. It had been a little more than a month since the last threat on her life. Morrie, Gran’s husband, had finally stopped her. He promised that it would end or he would end it. Although things relaxed, their families did not wholly trust it was over. Greg and Kate went to a Dodger game the weekend before. When nothing horrible happened, except the Dodgers lost, he was sure that it was over. Kate didn’t know that Matt and Eric had attended the same game in a different section. They had used their deterrence to keep Kate from sensing their presence. On one hand Greg was thankful that they were there in case Gran had made an appearance. On the other every time Kate showed the slightest bit of affection he heard taunting comments from Eric’s telepathic mind. He would always see Kate as his little sister who was too young to date, even a guy that he approved of like Greg. Greg got his corsage from the fridge and went next door to collect Kate for the dance. As he walked past his Bronco, he regretted not renting a limo. That seemed over the top but it was probably the sort of thing a girl would like. “Too late.” Jim answered the door. Jim was closer to Greg than most of his family. Andy and Jim had gone to St. Iggy’s back in the day together. Greg’s Uncle Mark, Andy’s brother, lived next door on the other side of them. He was a good uncle but a workaholic. Even Greg’s cousins, Dave and Meg, barely saw

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


6

their father. His Aunt Wendy was the closest thing Greg had to a maternal figure but she was all aunt as far as he could tell. Kate came downstairs dressed in a pink dress with spaghetti straps that went to the floor. She was a vision to behold with her long wavy soft brown hair and eyes. Greg couldn’t believe his luck that she loved him even if she never admitted it. He guessed she was scared to get so close to anyone because she was so shy. Her controlling family hadn’t helped her accept many people outside their select inner circle. The inner circle was expanded when she moved in with Jim and people banded together to stand up to her wicked grandmother. Even Father Francis, the head master of St. Iggy’s, had gained the family’s trust. He was there when the last showdown took place. Turned out he was really helpful. He had some passive gifts, knowing people’s natural talents and detecting truth or lies. In the end it was his ability to clear his mind when someone helping Gran was clouding everyone’s that saved the day. It wasn’t even a metaphysical gift. The repetition of praying the Our Father snapped his mind free. He claimed it was proof of the power of prayer. The prom was at the Plaza Pacific in Santa Barbara. It was a Spanish-Mediterranean style hotel on the coast. Small balconies overlooking the ocean surrounded the Grand Ballroom. It was ludicrous giving the keys of his Bronco to the valet. Greg wished he had splurged for the limo. Next year. The dance had just begun and the crowd was getting full. St. Iggy’s had a rule of closing the doors thirty minutes in and no one could leave until thirty minutes before the official end at eleven thirty. It was installed years ago because everyone showed up for pictures and went to after parties. He wondered how influential their fathers’ era had on some of the obscure rules at school. Father Francis had told them that their fathers had the longest rap sheets in St. Iggy’s history. Jim held the single record but, as Father Francis had put it, what does a mile per hour matter when you’re going the speed of light. Father Francis greeted the students with Sister Rene. They were in their usual attire, clerics and a habit. Greg had always liked them both but Father Francis had really out done himself. Aside from saving the day when Kate was shot, he had also defended Greg and Kate when they were falsely accused of cheating with two of their friends. The priest smiled broadly at the kids as they approached. “You are a handsome couple.”

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

“Thank you.” Kate wasn’t good at compliments. The smallest amount of attention would cause her to blush. She was allergic to direct limelight. That night she did better than Greg. He didn’t know how to respond. Usually he returned compliments but they looked the same as always. He liked the way they looked. They were the idealism of the Holy Orders. He gave an equally feeble thank you. “Try to stay out of trouble.” The priest raised his eyebrows at them as they went to take their picture. The band was good. They were a swing group that mixed in some lounge and blues for fun. He got an idea for a song. He would make the request without Kate seeing him. They sat at their table and waited for their friends to show. His best friend Brad was the next to arrive with Barbara. She was a cute sophomore with silky black hair. St. Iggy’s had an all school prom

7

since it was a small school but few sophomores attended and almost no freshmen. She was nice and started speaking up before Kate. Kate was always introverted but in a group of friends she usually spoke out more easily. He couldn’t blame her. He felt out of place as well. Brian and Meg were next followed by Dave and Lindsay. It was weird that his cousin Meg dated Kate’s brother Brian but they were a good duo. Finally Claire arrived with her date Chris to complete the table. She was a newer friend to Meg and Kate. She used to be close to Stacey, the school harpy, until she went too deep into the dark side and hit Kate. Greg liked Claire enough and her date but he was jealous of Chris. It added to his annoyance that Kate had set them up for the prom. Claire and Chris had known each other for years but Kate had made the arrangements for the prom when Claire was without an option. “Doesn’t everyone look fabulous?” Chris said looking a little too long at Kate. Greg put his arm around his girlfriend in a minor territorial gesture. “Where are Matt and Eric?” Chris joked as held Claire’s chair for her. “They opted out of this dance.” Brian answered. “I’m in charge of watching Kate tonight.” “I hope you get overtime for that.” At one of Chris’ school dances, the twins had shown up to help Kate when Gran had wreaked havoc. It was then that Gran had tried to drown her. Not wanting to tell Chris the truth, Eric invented a story that they were only clowning around and fell into the pool. Too bad it didn’t cool Chris’ jets when it came to Kate.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

Greg pecked Kate on her cheek. “I’ll be back.” “They really aren’t coming.” Brian repeated guessing that Greg may have suspected otherwise. “Nature calls.” Brad grabbed Greg and whispered in his ear, “I’ll watch her for you.” He gave a knowing nod of the head. Brad wasn’t really the best person to watch out for Kate. He flirted shamelessly with everyone

8

and Kate especially. It was purposeless. There were times Greg wished he would show some self-control. Greg nodded appreciation and went to the restroom for good show. He headed back to the dance when he ran into Matt and Eric. It would have been nice if it surprised him. “What are you guys doing here?” He moaned. “Two fold.” Eric started. “First to make sure that Gran stays away.” Matt continued. “And second to make sure you keep it PG with Kate.” Eric finished. Greg hated when they talked in tandem almost as much as when they spoke in unison. “You still don’t trust me? I’m hurt.” He held his hand to his chest in mock disgust. “Please! You know we’re kidding.” Eric rolled his eyes. “Only because I couldn’t resist the dare.” Greg smirked. “That wasn’t a dare.” Eric back peddled. “No need to prove anything to anyone.” “I don’t know. Chris is here because your sister set him up with a friend of hers.” “She does like to keep him close.” Matt teased. “We can take care of him.” Eric offered with a sly wink of the eye. “He’s braver than you think. You didn’t scare him off when you crashed his dance.” “We weren’t trying then.” Eric had a wicked smile when it came to taunting people, a very irksome wicked smile. Greg shook his head and went to the bandstand to make his request. On his return to his date, Stacey bumped into him. “Having fun?” She was not one of Greg’s favorite people and quite possibly his least, after Gran Thomas of course. She had chased him relentlessly for months. When that failed, she became a nuisance to Kate.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

That was too kind. She was an enemy. She hit Kate and wrote nasty things on her personal blog suggesting all kinds of untruths to pervert Kate’s reputation. “Yes. And you?” “Great. Too bad we didn’t come together. I would have made it worth your while.” She ran her hand suggestively down his arm as she spoke. “Not interested.” He took a small step to put more distance between them. “Greg, we would have been great together. Do you think Kate is going to rock your world?” “If she does, my world will be the only one that she rocked.” He snapped. She was hurt but his words were true. Stacey had made her rounds. Her reputation was well grounded. “You’re a prude!” She stormed off.

9

Greg finally returned to his table. Kate gave him an odd look. She had seen his spat with Stacey. “Just the same old same old.” He told her. Dave, Brian and Claire were seniors and it was their last high school hurrah. Dave and Brian were going to room together at Santa Barbara. Claire was going to USC. She was from a long line of Trojans and it was a family tradition. Brad, Greg and Chris would be in the same baseball camp over the summer. It was their sport of choice. Brad played football as well. Greg and Chris were on their basketball teams. The band started playing his song. He led Kate to the dance floor. “I made a request.” He whispered in her ear pulling her hair back. She listened carefully. When the lyrics started she recognized it was I’m Your Puppet. “That makes me the puppet master.” She frowned. “No, the song is from your perspective.” “Nice.” She had the greatest smile that could make him swoon even after months of dating. Greg kissed her. “If that were true would I be here dressed up like a penguin?” “Sister Rene is a penguin. You’re a monkey.” “Nice.” He held his cheek to hers. She grinned. “Do you know how happy you make me?” He knew. “Katie, you look amazing.” Greg always called her Katie. It started as a tease after she forgot his name and stuck.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM
 After the Prom
Brad usually had the after parties. His parents were notoriously liberal and let the kids drink as long as they had a designated driver. For the bigger parties, like the after prom, they hired one of the school’s night guards to be the key master. He collected the keys as the kids arrived and wouldn’t give them back unless they proved to be alcohol free. Brad was too close of a friend to ditch the party altogether. Greg and Kate made a short visit before going back to Greg’s house.

10

His dad was out of town for the weekend with his girlfriend Angela. They would have the house to themselves. Not that Greg had any plans to take full advantage of the situation. He was happy with their PG relationship as Eric called it. They had years to do everything they wanted. He didn’t want any regrets about getting too intimate too fast. After all, Kate couldn’t even say she loved him. They put on some music and sat on the couch talking about the prom and their friends. Greg pulled Kate’s hair back and started kissing her neck. She was responsive and they enjoyed each other’s companionship. Probably any couple was happiest when they were alone and close but their empathy amplified it. “I love you.” He said before he realized that he shouldn’t. He had told her months ago and tried not to say it too often. She would feel the pressure to return the sentiment. He wanted to hear it when the time was right for her. Once in desperate need he tried to evoke it from her. She dodged it skillfully and conceded it was true without saying the words. Why did he even care? It was a fact. Still he craved a verbal validation. She started to speak but Greg put his hand over her mouth. “Say it when you’re ready.” “I am ready.” She protested under her gag. “No you aren’t. You’re only saying it because I did.” She pulled his hand away from her face. “That isn’t true and it wouldn’t mean I’m not ready.” “Then tell me tomorrow.” He had done the same to her when he asked her to be exclusive. She rolled her eyes. “Can I give you a birthday present?” “It isn’t until tomorrow.”

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

“It’s one o’clock. It is tomorrow.” She picked up her purse and handed him an envelope with a bow. “Happy birthday.”

11

He obliged. At Christmas Kate had given him a gift certificate to a sports memorabilia store that Greg loved. It wasn’t personal enough in Kate’s opinion. Her shopping had been curtailed due to circumstances beyond her control. She would try too hard to compensate for it. He fanned out five tickets to a Giants game in August. It was perfect, it was too much and too perfect. “Five?” “Dad thought Angela would join us. Technically, they’re from both of us. We really need to find him someone now.” “Sure thing.” Greg would’ve agreed to anything at that point he was so excited. “Can I check where the seats are?” He hadn’t been to the new Giants ballpark. Kate frowned. “Okay.” “What’s wrong?” “Nothing.” She lied. He kissed her. “You don’t want to stop?” “Well, no, but you can check.” That wasn’t it. Greg would worry about it later. He took her upstairs and loaded up the Giants’ website to see the stadium seating grid. When he pulled out the tickets another piece of paper fell out. He picked it up. It had three words written on it. “I love you.” He went to Kate who was standing behind his chair and gave her a long and intense kiss. “And it wasn’t because I said it first?” She shook her head no. He leaned in to kiss her again but stopped. “How did you do that?” He would have seen her writing the note. He should have seen it. Kate giggled. She told him that she practiced writing nonsense. When she could fit it decently she looked away and quickly folded the note. She didn’t even look at the tickets in case her vision flickered to his. She took every precaution to ensure it was unforeseen. She was the best girlfriend ever. They started kissing and before long they were on his bed with Kate leaning on top of his right side. “We better stop before we go too far.” He said between kisses. “Don’t worry about it.” She gave him a tempting look. “We don’t need to rush things.” He slid out and sat on the edge of his bed.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

“Is it because you’re Catholic?” Kate wasn’t Catholic. She often attributed things she didn’t understand about Greg to what she called out-dated theologies. “Some.” Kate sat up and sighed. “What else? Is it Eric?”

12

Greg sighed and laughed at once. “He would kill me for sure and you would tell him. Let’s not forget that.” Kate told Eric everything whether she wanted to or not. He read her too well for her to hide anything. He was a self-proclaimed protective monster and proud of it. She pouted. “But mostly because we’re young and there isn’t a hurry.” He had his speech memorized. He had told his own hormones the same thing over and over and over again. “We’re going to last. We have plenty of time for everything.” “I won’t tell Eric.” It was a lie. She meant it with all her heart but she couldn’t conceal it from him. Greg rolled his eyes and kissed her on the cheek. “Not yet.” “You surprise me.” She looked at him quizzically. “How so?” “When you first kissed me you always seemed so confident. It drove me nuts and scared me to death at the same time.” “That wasn’t because I have any experience. You’re the only serious girlfriend I’ve ever had. Back then I knew you liked me.” His words were lost. She didn’t understand. “Because I could see through your eyes. There was only one reason for that.” She got it. Seeing through her eyes was a prophetic sign to Greg. He believed they were fated. “That doesn’t mean we’ll get married.” She stammered on the “m” word. “If we don’t why bother with sex?” He was sure they would. “That’s your religion talking.” She accused him. He peered into her brown eyes. “Don’t you think you should be cautious with intimacy?” “Yes but it isn’t careless if we care about each other.” “Either that’s forever love or it’s puppy love.”

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

“It isn’t puppy love.” Kate avoided saying it was eternal. Even after writing her note, it wasn’t

13

easy for her to say it was true love. She spinelessly opted for negating the lesser rather than affirming the greater. “So you don’t believe in God?” He would let her think it was religious ethics driving his willpower. Anything to stall and move off topic. “In some form. Why would it bother Him?” “He wants us to respect each other. It’s better to error on the side of good morals.” He kissed her but she wasn’t as receptive. “Is it that important?” “It’s the prom and we have the house to ourselves. I just assumed…” She stopped herself. “Didn’t you have a good time?” “I did.” “Let’s get you home before you change my mind.” He picked up her hand and walked her nextdoor. He was dangerously close to giving in.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

Stepbrother

14

Greg woke up wondering if he shouldn’t rethink his stance on intimacy with Kate. It wasn’t like it would derail their destiny. Lord knows he was thinking the same things she was. He didn’t expect to hold out until marriage. That was WAY down the road. Maybe after they were in college. They were in love and it was human nature to want to express that love. If Kate didn’t give up her campaign, he didn’t know how long he could resist. In the end, his moral compass said to wait at least until he was out of his father’s house. To preoccupy his meandering mind, he did some homework. Nothing like heavy philosophy reading to kill any urges. By three, he had completed his studies and his mind was as sex-free as a seventeen-year-old boy’s could be. Andy and Angela strolled in around four in the afternoon fresh from their first weekend trip to Vegas. “Greg?” Andy called before the front door shut behind them. “Did you have fun?” Greg said meeting them in the kitchen. “We did. We even left with more money than we started with.” Andy had a big grin on his face. “Your father was on a roll. I’m surprised they didn’t accuse him of counting cards.” Angela was giddy with excitement. “Were you?” Greg’s dad played up the dumb-jock image to disguise the shrewd man inside. “Not really. Just playing the odds.” He hadn’t let go of Angela’s hand. “Can we talk to you quickly?” Greg sat down and prepared for an announcement that felt too soon. He had seen coming for a while. “Sure. What about?” He mugged a smile hoping it looked genuine. If they were taking things to the next step, he was happy for both of them. However there wasn’t a doubt things would never be the same again. That was unsettling. “Well, we’ve been seeing each other for eight months and we couldn’t be happier.” Angela’s eyes examined Greg carefully. The worry that he wasn’t going to take the news well scared her.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


15

“You’re good for each other.” Greg meant it. His father was a better man since he had been with Angela. After fifteen years it was long past time for him to settle down again. “We are.” Andy kissed Angela’s left hand. When he did a large diamond sparkled. “I asked Angela to marry me and she said yes. But you and Ian have veto rights.” Ian was Angela’s son, who Greg had met briefly a couple of times. “I’m not going to veto it.” Greg got up and hugged his dad. “I’m all for it.” “Really?” Angela was smiling as she blinked to keep her eyes from tearing. Please don’t cry. Greg hated when women cried. It was the worst way to feel helpless even if she was crying tears of joy. He embraced her. “Really.” Hugging her was the wrong move. The tears fell. He didn’t know what to say or do to make them stop. She dabbed them away quickly and composed herself. “Ian will move in as well. I think you’ll get along well.” Wow! Two new residents in his home. He kept his smile plastered on his face refusing to give a hint that the idea was frightening. “I’ve been dying to get to know him. All dad talks about is what a great kid he is.” “We’re going to enroll him at St. Ignatius’. He has good grades so it shouldn’t be a problem.” Andy said. “If not, he’ll go to Santa Katrina High.” Like Father Francis wouldn’t make it happen even if Ian didn’t have the numbers or skills for a high performance school like St. Iggy’s. “Speaking of Ian, I need to collect him from his father’s. I’ll break the news to them.” “Do you want me to go with you?” Andy offered. “No need. Jack and I had a couple of tough years when we first split. We’re at a good place now. He’ll be happy for me. And Ian already adores you.” She gave Andy a kiss, hugged Greg again and left. “It’ll be a lot to adjust to having a mother and brother around.” Andy carefully watched his son knowing he had a front up but uncertain what his true feelings were. “Dad, you deserve to be happy and Ian and I will adjust.” It was something people managed every day. He would do his part to make it work. That didn’t mean Greg was a hundred percent hunky-dory with

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

it. Worse case scenario, college was a little more than a year away. They had room for them at home.

16

That wasn’t a problem. And if Greg’s theory was true, she was meant for Andy. He had seen through her eyes and Ian’s. Andy put a hand on Greg’s shoulder. “I’m glad you’re willing to adapt.” He mocked. “What?” “Becoming a family is more complicated than coping with new housemates and sharing a bathroom with a little brother.” Dang. Greg didn’t account for having to share his bathroom. At least they would have their own rooms. Jim and Kate had only found each other last August and they were doing fine. Of course that was a one-to-one living arrangements and there weren’t any innocent bystanders. Jim did have the added intricacy of accepting her half brothers and stepfather, which he had done superbly, but they didn’t live there. “I’m oversimplifying.” Greg gave in. “There’s a silver lining to all this. We don’t have to figure it all out tonight.” “Good to know.” The wedding was scheduled for the first weekend of summer break. Greg didn’t have time to worry about it. Finals took precedence. If he pulled off another A in math, and he would, he would have straight A’s. It would be a remarkable feat considering his first year at St. Iggy’s he had nothing higher than a B and only a few of those. Their finals were two and a half hours long and Mr. Stewart kept a close eye on the four students he falsely accused of cheating; Kate, Meg, Brad and Greg. More than once during the exam, Greg caught him staring. He smiled and continued his test. It was dangerous to spurn a teacher but math grades were the least subjective. Greg finished in record time. He walked out as Jeff, the smartest kid in school, poured over his test with significant concentration. Kate was waiting. She was the fastest tester in any class. “How did you do?” She immediately asked. “Perfect.” He kissed her softly. She was still wounded from after the prom. She felt rejected on some level. It had put some distance that Greg tried unproductively to breach.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

“I bet you have a better GPA than Jeff.” She smiled at him. She had a radiant smile. “Wouldn’t that be funny?” It was more than possible. He wasn’t above feeling smug about it. Jeff had tried to get him expelled and he made an unwanted pass at Kate.

17

It was their last final and they waited for their friends. They all felt confident about their tests and went for burgers and shakes to celebrate. Dave graduated the next week. Greg’s almost-family debuted their new line-up. The ceremony was held on the copious front lawn of St. Ignatius’. Since the school was small, the procession of graduates went quickly. When Brian Thomas crossed the platform he paused with a frown. Shaking his head he rallied himself and sprinted forward. Eric, are you taunting your little brother? Greg asked telepathically. No. How can you think that? Someone was messing with Brian. It had a silly mindless prank feeling. I do not waste my precious energy on silliness. Okay, okay. My mistake. Greg withdrew the accusation. You’re forgiven. He answered magnanimously. It was Matt. Can’t you tell the difference between us? And it wasn’t silly. He’s bored. Like that excused it. Brothers? And soon Greg would have one too. Uncle Mark and Aunt Wendy slyly examined Angela and Ian for a thorough assessment at the local steakhouse where they celebrated Dave’s big day. They passed with flying colors. Entering the Andrew inner circle was a snap compared to the grueling inspection one underwent with the Thomas Family. Kate texted him to join her when he got home. The Thomas family was big on keeping it simple and barbeques. “Dad,” Greg asked as they drove home from dinner, “I’m going to go to Brian’s and see everyone.” It was more an update than a request. “Sure.” Andy never denied Greg permission. “Why don’t you take Ian?” Angela suggested.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

Greg looked at his soon to be stepbrother. “Do you want to come?” Kate wouldn’t care. He wasn’t thrilled at the idea but it wouldn’t hurt.

18

“Sure.” Ian idolized Greg since they first met. He always wanted a sibling and he won the lottery with a big brother like Greg. Greg withheld the urge to roll his eyes. He hated the pressure of being the big brother. He’d to learn to live with it. How did Kate’s brothers handle it so well? Well, the answer was easy. Matt and Eric were born egomaniacs. Brian was a middle child so his responsibility was lighter. When they got home he took his stepbrother-to-be down the street. “Hey Greg.” Eric answered the door. “And who do we have here?” “This is Ian. He’s Angela’s son. Ian, this is Kate’s brother Eric.” “Oh, the new stepbrother. I’ll teach you everything I know about being a big brother. You’ll want to take notes.” Eric had his wicked grin on, the one that usually annoyed Greg. It annoyed him then. “I remember your methods. No more lessons needed. The wounds heal but the scar remains.” Greg regretted his last comment instantly. It fed the egomaniacal monster within Eric. All of Kate’s family was there including Jim. He was like an uncle to her brothers and Ron liked him more and more. Greg had heard that Ron wasn’t always as warm and fuzzy. He never witnessed it. He was impressed how welcoming Ron was to Jim, who he had only learned less than a year before was Kate’s genetic father. And vice versa. Jim had to traverse uncharted terrain to be included in Kate’s family’s inner circle. He had the luck of winning over Eric quickly. And Kate. She was the youngest member but she pulled a lot of weight. Everyone sat around talking and Kate and her brothers were uninterested and restless. The kids convinced the parents to let them go play pool at Jim’s. He had lived alone until Kate moved in and his house was a bachelor’s dream come true with a pool table, dartboard and authentic bar. Sandy mumbled something about needing to get a pool table as the kids went on their merry way. “Cool.” Ian said as they walked into the rec room that could easily pass for a pub. “Yeah. Kate wins the most fun dad prize.” Brian joked. She smirked. Jim was a great dad and Ron was still as much a father to her as the first fifteen years of her life. She was doubly blessed in that arena.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

“Well, Andy is pretty cool.” Ian remarked. “My dad’s great but Andy is like a big kid.” Greg laughed. It was too true. “I hope he gets mom to relax some. She’s kind of strict.” Ian glanced down at the ground. Angela had always been a lot of fun. It made sense that she was more cautious when it came to her son but it wasn’t something Greg could envision. “Don’t worry about that.” Matt chimed in. “Greg will help you around any rules.” “Really?” Ian was hopeful.

19

“We’ll see.” Greg furrowed his eyebrows at Matt. Being friends with the twins didn’t stop them from creating trouble, only how they doled it out. They were naturals when they didn’t even put any effort into it. They always put some effort in it. “It’s what big brothers do.” Eric gave Greg a stern look probably expecting him to write down his advice for future reference. “I don’t remember you helping Kate around rules. I remember you adding to the rule list unnecessarily.” “That’s part of it too.” Eric didn’t flinch. “But that’s only for sisters.” “Please, stop all the nonsense.” Kate asked. They were picking on Greg and Ian. And no cheating. She sent telepathically to Eric. He returned an innocent face, one that he had practiced well over the years. In all the times he had used it he was never guiltless. Only caught and usually by his permission. The twins had learned how to cover their tracks long before Greg met them. Ian had a great time even though he didn’t win one game of pool except to Greg who let Ian beat him. “Did you have a good time?” Angela asked Ian as soon as they entered the den. “It was great. Katie’s brothers are cool. I can’t even tell the two older ones apart. And Katie is really nice. She’s the youngest and the boss.” He had picked up calling her Katie from Greg. “What?” Greg gasped. “She told them to stop picking on you and they did.” “Yeah, it’s not really like that all the time.”

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

“Greg’s lucky to have her as a girlfriend. And she’s real pretty.” Greg blushed a little. He was fortunate but he didn’t foresee a thirteen-year-old perceiving it. “And she’s lucky to have him.” Angela added.

20

Ian followed Greg to his room and entered without being asked. It’s not that Greg wanted him to knock but he felt ensnared. He wasn’t use to having people around other than his dad who always gave him his space. Little Ian was invading his sanctuary. He didn’t kick him out. Something inside told Greg that was how families worked. Ian had taken the bedroom next to Greg’s and it was ready for move in. Ian had spent a couple of nights there already. Why didn’t he go to his room? “It’s great that her brothers like you so much.” Ian commented. “They didn’t at first.” “They didn’t? Did Katie make them stop?” “No. They wouldn’t even let me talk to her. Eric and I almost got in a fight a couple of times.” Ian’s eyes widened. “What happened?” Eric was intimidating and the idea of a scuffle with him was imposing. “We got past it. They were way too overprotective.” Greg didn’t mention he had behaved like an ass at times to egg them on. “And they aren’t anymore?” “Not in that way.” They still had their moments but Greg wasn’t the threat they once believed him to be. “Will you be like that?” “No.” Greg said flatly. “You don’t want that.” Ian had a defeated posture. Greg didn’t understand why. Then he saw Ian from an outsider’s point of view for the first time. He was a nerdy kid that probably got his fair share of harassing at school. Ian was scrawny with dark hair. Wearing glasses didn’t help even though they were too stylish to be truly geeky. “I won’t let anyone pick on you of course but I won’t babysit you.” “Really?”

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

“No one messes with us.” “There’s a guy at school that picked on me all the time. I’m glad to go to a new school. Mom says that I’ll get into St. Iggy’s.”

21

“Father Francis will get you in. Even if you go to Santa Katrina, I have a friend there that would watch out for you.” Greg meant Chris. They were mostly friends with a couple of instances of rivalry. One was baseball and the other was Kate. Greg had Chris beaten on both counts. “I want to go to your school.” “I want that too.” Greg didn’t realize it until that moment. Somewhere inside him was the desire to take Ian under his wing and teach him the ropes. “Do you play any sports?” “In P.E. but not on any school teams.” “What about baseball? Have they taught you baseball during P.E.?” He shook his head and his glasses twisted. Ian pushed them back into place with a single finger on the bridge. “Let’s go to the cages tomorrow. I’ll see how you are with a bat. Maybe you’ll like baseball.” Greg remembered his first trip to the cages. It had felt bitter sweet at first but it turned out to be one of those great days you never forget. “You’d do that?” Ian’s face lit up. Then his excitement waned. “I’ll have to ask Mom first.” It was clear he held little hope for permission. “Let’s ask right now.” Greg didn’t tell Ian his strategy. Andy would be there and she would be less likely to say no in front of him. He pondered how strict she really was with her son. Greg had always seen her fun side but she was courting his father at the time. Clearly from Ian’s reaction, her strictness was going to be an issue. They hurried down stairs and Greg did the asking. “Hey, I’m going to go to the batting cages tomorrow and it’d be fun if Ian came with, if that’s okay?” It was weird asking. He never asked for permission unless it was something questionable. Anything to improve his game was never questionable to Andy. “That’s a great idea.” Andy was pleased to see their sons bonding. Greg could see it that Angela felt cornered.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

Ian saw it too and he asked, “Mom, is that okay?” “If you wear a helmet and listen to everything Greg tells you.” She wanted to say no. They went back to their individual rooms to get ready for bed. Andy popped in on Greg shortly afterwards. “Can I come in for a second?” Greg was going to hear it for inviting Ian to bat. “Sure.” He prepared for his medicine.

22

“Angela didn’t want to let Ian go but she had no choice when you asked and I agreed. I shouldn’t have done that. I was just glad to see you getting along.” “And it’ll be great for us.” Greg would have to figure Angela out but he had his father pegged. He worked the levers well and the one labeled Baseball was consistently effective. “She’s fussy when it comes to Ian. He got pushed around at his last school. She worries.” “Dad, he has to learn to stand on his own.” Andy smiled at his son. “We’ll get Angela to lighten up but we want to tread gently at first.” “Sure Dad.”

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM
 Batter Up
The next morning at breakfast Angela insisted on driving the boys to the cages. Greg had his license for more than a year so it wasn’t illegal for him to drive passengers. It was the sort of side effect

23

that made him regret his invitation. He was going to pay too high a price for such a small gesture of good will. Andy came to the rescue. “Angela, he’ll be driving him farther when they start school. Family Fun Zone isn’t even a mile from here.” “Please Mom.” Even Ian knew it wasn’t cool to be dropped off by his mother when he had a brother old enough to drive. She was cornered again and she glared at Greg regardless of the fact that he hadn’t said a word against the idea. He didn’t like it but he was going to pick his battles. “Be careful.” She regrettably acquiesced. “Always.” Greg crossed his heart for exaggeration. They got to the cages and bought plenty of tokens. Greg and Ian strolled down to the softball machines. Since Ian hadn’t hit before, Greg needed to check his form. Softball was slow and lobbed in a high arc but the motion of the swing was the same. It was a good choice. The kid couldn’t hit a piñata. After the first round Greg went into the cage to give him some pointers. Ian didn’t have any sports experience other than dodge ball and kickball. Given that, he didn’t do half bad. He wanted to impress Greg so badly that he listened to every suggestion as if it were a direct command from the president. If Greg told him to bend his knees more Ian would squat too low. Once Ian was comfortable with slow pitch, Greg bought him a pair of batting gloves. Ian couldn’t go home with blisters. That would only trigger a scolding from Angela for them and his dad. They moved to fast pitch softball. It was set for thirty miles per hour and Ian didn’t connect often the first round. “That’s okay. You’re form is good.” Greg encouraged. “Just keep your eye on the ball. You have to swing much faster here and it didn’t help we started with the slow pitch.” Greg was trying too hard

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


24

and hoped that Ian wouldn’t read into his overly supportive comments. He was doing well considering his inexperience. The more Greg tried to emphasize his strengths the more it sounded like false praise. Ian bit his lip trying to keep a brave face. At least he wasn’t crying. By the end of the next round Ian hit the ball poorly but reliably. After the third round he was doing better. “You’re catching on quickly. Let’s speed it up some.” Greg asked the attendant to speed it up to fifty mph. Ian didn’t take as long to adjust. “Don’t you want to hit a few?” Ian asked after a few more tokens were spent. His hands were twitching from clenching the bat too tightly. He needed a break. “Sure.” Greg didn’t want to hit softball. It was too easy and it would mess up his timing on the faster hardball machines but he didn’t want Ian to know it was kids stuff. All the other softball machines were being used by girls and little kids. Greg swallowed his pride and stepped into the cage. “I thought that was you.” It was Chris. “What are you doing on softball machines?” He was the last person on Earth that Greg would want to catch him in the softball cages. “Showing Ian how to hit. Ian, this is Chris. He’s on the Santa Katrina team. Chris, this is my stepbrother Ian.” To be precise they had a day before it was official but why quibble over semantics. “Hi Ian.” Chris was always a nice guy. “Is this your friend that you told me about?” Ian mistakenly asked. It was but Greg didn’t want to admit it in front of Chris especially while hitting softballs. “Yeah. Ian was worried if he didn’t go to my school if he would like anyone at yours.” Chris understood. He was new to town when he was sophomore and a new school was threatening. “If you’re as good as him, I hope you come to our school.” “I’m not.” Ian said truthfully. “Then listen to him. He’s the best in the state.” Chris was a gracious individual and gave out praise freely when it was deserved, although best in the state was over the top. He stayed and watched. Greg hit a couple of rounds. Ian was impressed at how powerful he swung and gave his full attention to Greg as he gave him more pointers. “Let me try a few.” Chris was being a good sport. He didn’t want to hit softball anymore than Greg did. After Chris had a few turns Ian was back in the cages with two coaches.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

“Thanks.” Greg whispered. “No problem.” Ian was better after watching them. “Dude, this is too easy for you.” Chris said. “Let’s move on to the baseball machines.” They moved down a few cages. “This is more like what you’ll get when you play on the school team.”

25

Ian was scared. His eyes bugged out as the small balls flew out of the machines in a fast straight vector. “You’ll do fine.” Greg promised nudging Ian’s back to step in and start. “You guys go first.” Ian was too nervous. They each took a turn at seventy mph. They wanted to be on the ninety machines. Ian stepped in and assumed the position. He was making contact but often the balls would lob over his head and land behind him. One pitch popped up and came down on his backside. Ian jumped out of the way. The machine was still going and the next ball shot out and hit him square in the back. Greg was in the cage in an instant. “Ian, are you okay?” Angela would murder him for sure. Ian wouldn’t let himself cry in front of them. He nodded in obvious pain. “I’ve got some aspirin in my bag.” Chris fished out his pills and a bottle of water. Ian took a pill and drank down half the water. “Thanks.” He squeaked. “Walk it off.” Greg told him. “Stretch and turn until you feel the stiffness ease.” Ian obeyed. “Not so bad is it?” Chris asked seeing that the pain was under control. Ian shook his head. “I guess not.” “I get hit all the time.” Another exaggeration. “Why we lost a game when Greg was hit far worse than that.” Greg forgot that Chris was there when he was slammed against the equipment shed at their game in February. It was a worse hit but not from a ball. “Really?” Ian was so easily impressed by any new information about Greg. A tale of heroics was a double treat.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


26

“Yeah.” Greg smiled at Chris. “I sucked for a couple of hits but after a few swings I was back to normal.” “Kicked our butts if I recall.” Chris was a natural with the kid and a liar. St. Iggy’s won by one run. “Let us try a few and then when you’re ready you can come back in.” “You’re good with him.” “I’ve got an older brother.” Chris put his hand on Greg’s shoulder. “Now let’s get him back in there before he thinks he can’t do it anymore.” They each took a turn and then Ian was keen to try again. He was stiff at first but loosened up. Greg and Chris took turns hitting in the cage next to Ian, which was ninety miles per hour. Ian was getting the balls to fly forward and not pop up. “He should go to baseball camp.” Chris suggested as they hiked back to their cars. Ian trailed behind watching the other batters. He had fallen in love with baseball – an emotion both of the older boys knew well. “It wasn’t easy to convince his mother to let him come today.” “He isn’t bad and with your help he’ll get better fast. We’ll go another four years without beating you guys.” “You’re all right.” Greg meant when he wasn’t flirting blatantly with Kate. “Now that the season is over for the year.” Chris reciprocated. “Don’t let his mom find out he was hit. That won’t help.” “I won’t mention it.” It was an understandable omission. Unfortunately Ian didn’t know better. When they got home he automatically updated his mother and Andy on the entire day including the hit and how he walked it off like the big boys. Angela’s face cringed when she heard he was hurt. Ian was excused. Greg was instructed to stay. “He was hit?” Angela fumed. “It happens sometimes.” Andy tried to put his arm on her shoulder but she shrugged it off. He was part of the problem. Baseball was dangerous and Andy was as smitten with the game as Greg, maybe more. Having season seats to the Dodgers, who were two hours from their home, wasn’t the act of a sane individual.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


27

“And he wanted to get right back in there and keep trying. He really had fun.” Greg tried to get her to see it was part of learning experience. “You know he’s old enough to go to the baseball camp.” “Absolutely not.” Angela was adamant. Greg expected she would take a hard line. He also knew his dad would take the lead on debating her. Andy was very good at constructing arguments. “Angela, it’ll be good for him. He’ll have something to do at school besides homework.” “What kind of grades can I expect if he spends his time on baseball?” “Greg has straight A’s.” Andy skipped the fact about that taking a few years. “St. Iggy’s has a great coach. Baseball camp can be a test. If he hates it or gets injured, we’ll pull him out.” “You are too permissive.” That was unfair. It was true but baseball wasn’t an example of it. “I’ll watch out for him and my friend Chris will do the same. And Brad too.” Greg didn’t need to argue for the defendant. He would play regardless but Ian deserved his day on the field. “Chris was the one at the cages today that was encouraging him to try the faster balls.” She had paid careful attention to every detail Ian spoke. “Yes. And he was the one that made sure Ian understood it happened and it wasn’t a big deal.” “A fastball to the back is a big deal.” “Honey, baseball is a big part of our family.” Andy gave his best puppy dog eyes. It was the same look Greg used on Kate when she was reluctant to give in to him when he knew was right. He was always right. “He’s out if he gets hurt.” The mother hen softened her ruffled feathers. Greg nodded but internally he decided to have a talk with Ian about how forthcoming he should be about stuff like that with his mother. He walked up to his room remembering what Matt and Eric had said about showing Ian around the rules. He was appalled that they were right. It hadn’t even been twenty-four hours and their prophecy was fulfilled. He always called Kate a puppet for listening to their every command and now he felt his strings being manipulated as he danced his jib expertly. As soon as Ian heard Greg going to his room he went to investigate. “What happened? Did we get into trouble?”

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

“Well, your mother was worried about you getting hit but we convinced her that was part of the game. Dad even got her to allow you to go to baseball camp with us if you want.” “Really?” Ian couldn’t believe his ears. “She already said yes?” “She did. And Chris and another good friend of mine go as well. We’ll have a blast.” “You’re the best.” Ian fidgeted. He wanted to hug Greg but that was childish. Greg lifted his fist. “Do the same.” Ian obeyed and they fist bumped. “We’re good.” Ian beamed with manly pride. “You know, you don’t have to tell your mother every time you get hurt. It’s great that you can

28

talk to her like that but if you’re already better it only worries her when there isn’t a need.” Dance puppet, dance. Performing on cue for the puppet masters would be a secret he took to his grave. “I said I was all better.” “You know parents. Sometimes they only hear the scary stuff. They forget that we aren’t babies anymore.” “Yeah.” Ian nodded. The babies line struck home. “Play it by ear.” Greg hoped he got the idea.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

Andy’s Wedding

29

Andy and Angela had a nice wedding at the cathedral followed by a small gathering at the house for the reception. Angela was glorious in an off-white sundress that accentuated her brown hair and olive complexion nicely. Andy had the biggest smile of his life. Greg and Ian were in suits but they removed their jackets and ties as soon as the Mass ended. Jim and Kate were there. Sandy, Ron and her brothers attended as well. They had become family friends since they moved to the street. Father Francis performed the ceremony. Angela’s friends were typical women. Greg wasn’t use to have so many around. They were beauty salon fresh with manicured nails and elaborate big hair dos. He loved Kate even more to see her in her floral sundress and simple hairstyle. A baseball cap would improve the image but he wasn’t going to tell her that. “Welcome to the family.” Greg gave Angela a hug and felt his small child within delight when she squeezed him extra hard. She left to mingle with the lady folk. His dad pulled Greg in with one arm and ruffled his hair like he had done so many times before in his life but not for years. “Thanks for that.” Andy whispered to Greg and gave him a sloppy kiss on the cheek knowing he could get away with it at his wedding. “You guys are good for each other.” Greg ran his hand over his head trying to undo the wake of spiked hair his father had mussed up. “You and Ian are in this thing too.” Andy smiled. “Hell, how hard can it be when the Grahams and Thomases can make their bizarre extended family work?” They glanced over to Ron and Jim chatting as if they were long time friends. “We didn’t even get to throw you a bachelor party.” Eric grieved as the twins waltzed over to congratulate Andy. “We’ll party extra hard when one of you guys takes the plunge.” “You first.” They said in unison pointing at each other and laughed. Then Eric tilted his head curiously at Greg. It was clear what comment was coming next.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


30

“Say it at your own risk. You’ll have to answer to Katie.” Greg could handle a jab about forever with Kate but she wouldn’t take it so well. “Spoil sport.” Matt stated for Eric. “It wouldn’t piss her off so much if she didn’t believe it.” That made Greg squirm a little. When he talked about being in love and having the rest of their lives ahead of them with Kate, he had no qualms. Hearing it from an outsider, or worse, her brothers, made him down right uncomfortable. “I’m glad you two could make it, even if you still pester Greg about your sister too much.” Andy liked the twins from the day they met. He saw a lot of Jim and his youth in their closer than brothers’ relationship. “Don’t tell Kate but we only do it because we already accept you guys as family.” Eric winked through his wicked smile. He said it as a joke but there was an authentic element underneath the humor. “Next time the missus is out of town, we’re going to a raise the roof. If we can’t make a trip to Vegas, we’ll play cards, smoke cigars and drink right here in town.” Matt wasn’t going to be denied a proper stag party. Not now that he was old enough that his father couldn’t feign to object, which he probably would have done before for the benefit of their mother. “Maybe.” Andy grinned and saw that the twins were disappointed. “I’m not a young man anymore.” “We’ll watch your back and it will be so worth it.” Eric rolled his eyes and yanked Andy into a full embrace. “I’m happy for you and you did well. She’s a looker.” “We both are.” Matt did the same. “And keep that boy of yours on a tight curfew. They were out past one after the prom.” Greg swallowed the nothing in his mouth. Nothing R-rated happened at the prom. Obviously the twins had their doubts. He avoided their eyes, Eric’s in particular, in case the protective monster within read it as a sign of aggression. Andy laughed knowing they were both kidding and serious as usual. “How’s ten o’clock sound?” “Dad, it doesn’t help to play up their fantasies.” Greg teased in a guiltless emitting effort. “So when Greg marries our sister,” Eric finally delivered his line, “that will make Andy Kate’s father-in-law. What will he be to us?”

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

“A friend and if the party goes well, a drinking buddy.” Matt nodded for emphasis. Kate walked up. One glance at her brothers and she knew they were in a roguish mood. The expression of innocence that wasn’t needed in true sinless moments was plastered on both faces. “Behave.” She said automatically. It was a waste of air and sound waves. They never listened. “They are.” Andy assured her.

31

Kate stood on her toes to give Andy a proper hug. “I wanted to congratulate you before you left for Hawaii.” Andy blinked a little to dry his eyes. All the talk of Kate and Greg’s future was getting to him. Like Greg, he felt that fate was already determined and it was only a matter of years before Eric’s statement was fulfilled. “And you kids stay out of trouble while I’m gone.” Almost two months later and he hadn’t forgotten the least detail of Gran shooting Kate. “I’ll keep her safe.” Greg put his arm around her waist and gave her a quick kiss on the cheek. Matt rolled his eyes and looked at Eric. Eric usually reacted first to any public displays of affection. He shrugged at Matt as if to say, what can we do. They couldn’t have been more eerily connected than Chang and Eng Bunker. The cases where they seemed to have unique qualities were probably more along the lines of splitting up duties between them. Andy and Angela flew off for a week on their honeymoon. Angela’s sister took Ian to his father’s. Ian’s dad liked the idea of baseball camp. Greg wondered what he was like. From the sounds of things, the family had a harmonious post-divorce life that was drama-free. If it hadn’t started that way, they had established a pact before she dated his dad. With the newlyweds gone, everyone left and Greg was alone with Kate in his empty house. They sat on the couch listening to music in each other’s arms. “So, how are you feeling?” She asked through a stifled yawn. “Good for now. Ask me again when they get back.” Greg dreaded a full house after years of just his father and him. Angela was good for his dad and he liked Ian more and more. That didn’t ease the angst the inevitable adjustment would bring. What would Angela be to him? Officially she was his stepmother and since no other woman had any maternal claim, his main mother. He didn’t know what to

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


32

expect from that. That small inner child that stirred when she gave him a squeeze told him it was going to be good. The rebellious teenager had more vocal doubts. “I should’ve got you six tickets for the ballgame. I didn’t know about Ian.” Kate ran her hand through his hair. It was probably still askew after the noogie his father gave him. “He has to spend some weekends at his dad’s anyway.” “Oh yeah.” Kate was glad that her parents lived on the same street and she stayed in the same bed every night. “I couldn’t imagine what that would be like bouncing back and forth from house to house.” “You’re lucky. It worked out nicely for you.” Kate got so quiet Greg thought she dozed off. “Do you ever miss your mother?” It was the first time Kate mentioned the topic since Greg told her his mother left them when he was two. That was before they were even friends. Even then he trusted her enough to bring up the painful topic. She was careful in her delivery unsure if it was taboo to ask. “No. Why? We’re happy without her.” Greg sounded a little bitter. “What a fool she is.” She held Greg’s hand. “Thanks for saying that.” He kissed the top of her head. “I’m not just saying that. You’re a straight A student, the star of the baseball team and the best looking guy ever.” “You may be biased.” Greg blushed because he loved that she saw him that way, true or not. “Well, I do give you some bonus points for being willing to kiss me.” She kissed him as evidence. “Then you should give points to everyone who wants to kiss you.” There was a line of men interested in her. She was adorable, smart and shy. “No one else. They’re all scared of you.” She never admitted how attractive she was. Maybe she didn’t understand. She only cared that Greg found her irresistible. “Or Eric.” He added and they laughed. “Did I tell you that I had a talk with Ian about not telling his mother every time he got hurt playing baseball?” She was confused by the change in direction. “No, is it important?” “I’m showing him around the rules like THEY prophesied.”

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


33

Kate snickered. He meant the twins AKA the puppet masters. “I’ll put my foot down if you keep people from talking to Ian.” “You think it’s great.” “I do. I love my brothers. You don’t.” “Just never expected it would happen to me, that’s all.” “You’re doing great. It’ll get easier.” She said but his mood didn’t change. “I know a funny idea that may cheer you up. Eventually Eric will have kids and there’s a good chance he’ll have a daughter. Just think how he’ll be with her.” That was amusing to consider. “We’ll have to kidnap her so she can have a normal life. He’ll chase us down. It’ll be a hard life on the run, but we’ll do it for Erictina.” He smiled feeling better. “Maybe he should stick to the sons only rule.” Kate’s family had only had sons until her. It was a family tradition. They somehow used their telekinesis to ensure male heirs. “Even worse, sons would be more terrible than the two of them together.” “Katie, please tell me you have a way to avoid us from having twins.” His joke fell like a lead balloon. Kate’s face got serious. She hated thinking that far in the future. It frightened her. Good thing she didn’t hear Eric pondering his relationship to Andy after Greg and Kate were married. “I was only kidding.” He recanted. She was only scared because she knew it was gospel truth. Matt hit the mark on the bull’s-eye. “Ha-ha.” She leaned on his shoulder and he held her. “I hope that they have kids before I do.” “Why?” “The next baby in our family will be doomed to be overly guarded against their will. Hopefully one of the twins will have the first baby.” There was a big part of her that relished the overprotection her brothers extended. Another equally big part knew it was kind of scary and hard to break free when she wanted space. “The odds are in their favor. This is their last year of college, Brian’s three years younger and you’re four. That gives them a head start.” Greg figured they were safe from being the first to breed.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


34

“But we’re in love.” Kate said without a hint of hesitation. Greg cherished it. It was a giant leap forward. “Brian and Meg are there or close. I think they’ll make it. But Matt is a chronic mediocre dater. He goes out with a girl for three months and then breaks up. He never gets serious. And Eric always goes for the wrong girls. He loves a mystery but once its solved there isn’t enough intrigue to keep him interested.” “Just racking up notches on his belt.” Greg teased but Kate didn’t see the humor. “He isn’t that shallow. There was one girl he was hung up on a couple of years older than him. They dated steadily for about a year. Then she wanted to go to Europe after graduation to work and they had to call it off. He was really mopey for weeks.” “We’re talking about Eric, right?” Greg commented. “He doesn’t seem the type to get broken hearted.” “She was all wrong for him.” Kate disapproved. Greg wasn’t shocked. “She was too dominating.” Greg laughed. “You have to be kidding. I don’t see him putting up with that.” Eric was the ultimate puppet master. How could he allow himself to be controlled against his will? “She didn’t bring out the best in him.” “Well, his best can be hard to take for long spells.” Kate rolled her eyes. “And she was boring on top of dull. He needs someone that can keep him challenged and interested even after the pursuit is over.” That was a tall order. Eric was extremely smart in an extremely mischievous way. When the Long Beach Aquarium first opened his father had taken him and Brad for his seventh birthday party. There was a large habitat for sea otters. The tour guide explained that they were very intelligent. There were tons of preschool toys in the in the water and on the fake rock landscape for the inhabitants to play with. Even so, the critters would get into trouble by unscrewing the occasional bolt that held their containment together. Often they would get screws out of their holes and scrape up the tank glass with the tips. That was Eric. Too smart and too bored. It would take an extremely complex plaything to keep him interested for the duration. “He’ll be the last one to fall in love.” She fretted. “If he ever does.”

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM
 Mother

35

The next Friday Greg got his things ready for baseball camp that started on Monday. He wanted some new gear and surveyed all his equipment for a final list. Kate would go with him to the sporting store. The newly married Mr. and Mrs. Andrews were due back later that night. Greg expected to see Kate on the other side of the door when the bell rang but it was a woman with light brown hair and eyes. “Hello.” She said nervously. “Hi. If you’re looking for Angela, she isn’t here.” Greg didn’t recognize her. She wasn’t a friend of his dad’s. The logical conclusion was she was a friend of Angela’s that missed the ceremony. “I’m looking for Greg Andrews. Do I have the right house?” She inspected him as she spoke then double-checked the address she had written down in her hand. “Who are you?” Greg had a bad feeling about the lady. “I’m Margo Jones.” She let that sink in. “I don’t want to talk to you.” Greg slammed the door. “Greg, please. I just want to talk.” She pleaded through the barrier. “It’s been fifteen years. Anything you have to say can go unsaid.” “I’ll come back when Andy is home.” She challenged. “He’ll tell you the same.” It was a sure bet. “Hello.” He heard Kate’s voice on the other side of the door. “Hello.” Margo said shocked and probably more than embarrassed to be begging for entrance. Greg opened the door and grabbed Kate’s arm. “Please.” Marge beseeched in her growing desperation. “Go away.” Greg snarled. Kate was alarmed by his hostility. “She’s my biological mother.” He punctuated the word biological as a reference that was her only connection she had to him. Kate’s face went pale. She glanced at the woman taking in her features and seeking resemblances. Sure enough they were some. “Please Greg. I won’t stay long.” She seemed sincere.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


36

“Fine.” He let her in but held on to Kate’s hand with a vice like grip. He needed support and she was his anchor. His temper was spent in record time and any conversation was going to be confrontational no matter where Margo intended it to go. She had a lot of gall to show up after so many years when she left them without so much as a “so long and thanks for all the fish.” She sat at a stool in the kitchen. When she smiled at Greg and he only frowned, she turned to Kate. “Are you a good friend of Greg’s?” “This is Katie and she isn’t going anywhere.” Greg answered. “Okay. I wanted to stop by and see that you were doing well.” “We’re fine.” “I hear some things. You’re a big baseball star. I’m not surprised. Andy had you hitting balls before you could walk.” “Can we jump to the point?” Greg wondered if it had to do with Andy getting remarried. It didn’t make much sense but it was the only recent event that could have triggered a reaction. It was a cause and affect world. “No point. I wanted to say I was a fool to leave and I’m not asking to be back in your life now. You’re better off without me.” She hung her head in shame perhaps waiting for a mild retort but Greg didn’t speak. “I hear how well you two are doing. Andy remarried someone who is supposedly very nice and beautiful.” “And she doesn’t abandon people to boot.” Greg amped up his harsh edge. Margo fought back her overwhelming guilt. “I was too young and scared to stay. I don’t expect you to understand. It was unforgiveable.” “You’re right on both accounts.” The front door opened, which was odd because it automatically locked. Eric walked in as casual as if it were his own home. “Hello.” He said pleasantly. “Is this your new stepbrother?” Margo asked. Eric snorted. “Brother-in-law to be.” “Eric!” Kate scolded. Did you tell him to come over? Greg asked Kate mentally.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

Yes. You needed more support. He grinned a little. She called in Godzilla to scare off Bambi. Did you mention that he should behave?

37

“Ma’am, I’m not sure why you’re here but it isn’t a good time. Andy is out of town and we have a close knit community.” If he added that they didn’t take kindly to strangers in those parts he couldn’t have sounded more like a country rube. Eric was his usual nonchalant self but the underlying tone was clear. “I see you have a good friends.” She tried to summon inner strength. “I didn’t come for trouble, to avoid it actually. I wanted to make sure you were fine and that no one had bothered you.” She reached for the notepad and pen by the phone. She quickly scribbled her number. “If you ever need me, call.” She stood up and let herself out. “Well, that was easier than dealing with Gran.” Eric joked. “Are you okay?” Kate surveyed her boyfriend for emotional injuries. “I’m glad you came and scared her off. I never imagined you would use your powers for good rather than evil.” Greg was too grateful to obey his unwritten law to not feed Eric’s ego. “One day the family may need a favor in return. When that day comes…” Eric trailed off. “Eric, behave.” Kate finally requested. “What was that all about?” Eric looked down the hallway to where Margo had exited the building. “Who cares?” Greg couldn’t think of a reason she would stop by after so many years away. “The only guess I have is it has to do with Dad getting remarried but that doesn’t make sense. He officially divorced her years ago. Had it officially annulled in the Church even.” “You need a beer.” Eric deduced and went to the fridge to get a couple of cold ones. “He doesn’t drink.” Kate told her brother. “What?” It was like she spoke Latin. “Why?” “I almost got a DUI.” Greg confessed. “Almost’s don’t count.” In Eric’s opinion rules were guidelines for meek minded people. He never considered they were meant for him to obey categorically. Greg shook his head and Eric put the beers back. “Something stronger? Whiskey? Scotch?” There was no response. “We can go to a girlie club but I think Kate might protest.”

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

“I do.” She said. “And it’s noon.”

38

“They’re always open.” Eric didn’t really know. He was just trying to cheer up Greg. “Let’s go to the cages. Maybe you can take out some aggression on the ball.” “Is that all right?” Greg had planned to spend the day with Kate but batting sounded like a good way to relieve his tension. “Sure. I’ll see you later.” She kissed him. She wasn’t a possessive girlfriend and she liked that he was spending time with Eric, her favorite brother. Although she denied any weighted loyalties in the family. Eric drove them in the twins blue Accord. They got two cages next to each other. “Do you want to talk about it?” Eric wasn’t sure how much comfort Greg needed. He was great with his brothers and Kate. Friends were harder for him to read. “She had expectations. I don’t know what they were but she had a reason.” Greg grunted out between swings. Batting was helping him deconstruct the encounter. The repetitive motion cleared his mind. “Maybe they were met. She probably wanted to litmus test for mending the rift. She may have hoped you would take her back into your life. When you didn’t she gave up.” “Could be.” It was plausible but it felt too simple. Greg wondered what Margo meant when she said she wanted to avoid trouble. What trouble? “Do you care about her? Are you going to call her?” “No and no.” Greg had thrown out the phone number. His hands were getting sore from gripping the bat too tightly as he swung with intense force. The stress was evaporating. He was glad that Eric had stopped by and suggested the outing. “Here again?” Chris had showed up. They went almost every day until camp and often ran into each other. “Hey, if it isn’t the other baseball player.” Eric called from his cage. Greg felt the anxiety rise again. Eric and Matt had a theory that Kate liked baseball players since she had only dated Chris and Greg. It bothered him to be reminded of her type and with the only other living proof to their theory in the near vicinity.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


39

“And you too.” Chris hadn’t seen Eric. He took the cage on the other side of Greg. “Wow, you are really beating the balls up today.” “Been a bad week.” Greg huffed as he took a mighty swing at a defenseless yellow ball. “Where’s Ian?” Chris fed a token and assumed the position. “Building an altar to Greg.” Eric joked. “He is not.” Greg snapped. “He’s a good kid.” Relax. Greg heard Eric’s voice in his head. She’s gone now. You’ll figure out why later. “Sorry.” Greg uttered through his grouchiness. “Why don’t you ever bring Kate batting?” Chris asked as he pressed the button to start a round. It irked Greg that he would want to see her. “She doesn’t like to bat because it messes up her tennis swing.” “Is she going to join the team this year? She should.” Chris tried to swing as hard as Greg but he didn’t have the raw emotional motivation. “She should’ve joined last year but she didn’t want to play with Stacey.” “Then she won’t have an excuse not to join this year.” “I don’t know guys. She doesn’t like it when she feels competitive.” Eric knew his sister well. He was a good hitter and kept up with Chris’ pace. “And she can’t control it on the court.” “Competition is healthy.” Chris grumbled out as he swung. It took competition, namely Chris, to kick Greg in the butt to move on Kate. “Didn’t we do this already? She’s with me.” Greg was too foul to stop himself from saying something stupid. And something stupid had just spilled out of his unwitting mouth. Chris stopped hitting. “I didn’t mean that. What’s with you today?” The next pitch flew past his back unnoticed. Eric was shaking his head behind Greg so that Chris could see to back off. “Nothing.” Greg stomped out of the cage. “It wasn’t you.” He heard Eric say as he ran to catch up. “Greg, you need to cool off.” “I know. I just don’t know how.” He almost yelled. “I have an idea.”

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM
 Blowing Off Steam

40

Eric drove to a condemned office building at the waterfront. He walked up and the chicken wire gate unlocked and opened as if by magic. His telekinesis was strong and he had studied locks to learn how to pick them mentally. It was impressively fast. He didn’t even have to slow his gait. Greg had learned telekinesis but the twins were super-supernatural. “Come on.” Eric said walking onto the private property as if they weren’t trespassing. Greg followed trusting that Eric had a plan. They walked into the building and stopped in the first room in a line of empty offices. “Okay, tear a hole in the wall.” Greg looked back and forth at his friend and the blank wall. “Should I get a bat?” “No, with your mind.” Eric thought it was obvious. Greg didn’t think to use telekinesis right away. “Are you sure?” “Trust me, it’ll make you feel tons better and wear you out a lot faster than batting.” Greg pushed in the center of the wall with his mind. It buckled from the pressure. “Not like that. Geez, that’s what I’d expect from Kate. Rip it apart.” He ordered. Greg shut his eyes and heard a rumble. When he peeked there was a foot round hole in the wall and through the next wall behind it. “Better?” Greg didn’t answer. He started pounding holes all over the wall. Each hole was easier. Each time he was stronger. There were a dozen before his humor improved. “Better.” Then he thrust out both hands and the wall imploded to rubble. “Good. Now let’s tear the staircase apart.” Eric led him to another area that had stairs leading up to a path to offices on the second floor. “What is this place?” “Some building they’re demolishing this week. Dad told me about it. They’re building new offices and he’s thinking of getting one. Business is going well and he hopes that Matt or I will join him

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


41

after school. He wants the space to expand if we do.” It kind of sounded like Eric didn’t want to join the family business. They tore up the stairs pulling apart each step in turn. Greg enjoyed the destructive release of energy. When Eric pulled up the last step Greg grabbed the floor of the walkway and yanked it down to the ground. It was by far the most extreme use of telekinesis he had ever exerted. It was empowering. “Nice job.” Eric remarked. “Are you good?” “I think so.” At that moment, Greg felt almost normal. He didn’t fool himself that it had passed away for good. Eric put his fists up in the air like he was ready to box. “We can duke out the rest of your stress.” Greg laughed. “I’m not going to fight with you. I know when I’m in over my head.” With or without telekinesis, Eric wasn’t someone Greg fancied to fight. “You flatter me. I like that. For that, I’ll let you kiss Kate once on the cheek.” Greg rolled his eyes. He had accidentally fed Eric’s ego. “I do that all the time.” “What?” Eric feigned repulsion. “I’ll have to have a talk with that young lady.” “Does it bother you still?” Greg assumed it did on some level. He joked about it too often. Maybe the humor was his way of letting go of his old ways. “I know she isn’t four-years-old anymore but sometimes I still see her that way. Mostly, I just wish she were. She does seem to pick pretty decent guys.” The moment got too sweet for Eric. “Come on, let’s get home before she accuses me of interfering again.” Greg took a quick shower before calling Kate. They started watching a shoot ‘em up movie. He got to pick the film since she was doing anything to please him. She wasn’t interested in it and after the fifth guy was killed she started kissing Greg. Even if he didn’t know the movie by heart, he wasn’t going to pass up affection. It was always great when they kissed but he needed it more at that moment. He pulled her body close to his as his passion increased. No matter how close they were, he wanted her closer. Kate didn’t push him away. On the contrary she held him tighter as their kisses grew in intensity. They were breathing heavily from all the energy and not slowing down for a rest.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

He ran his hands along her back and up her sides. She straddled his lap and ran fingers up his

42

torso. Then started to unbutton his shirt. They were passing a safe point that he had kept sacred for them. He didn’t care and she had already expressed resentment to it. She had his shirt open and was pushing it off his shoulders. His arms were too eagerly obliging to her whims. She ran her fingertips up and down his exposed chest. The sensation drove him crazy as his lust peaked. Kate pushed up enough to grab the bottom of her tee shirt and pulled it over her head. She reached behind her back to unhook her bra when he wrapped his arms around and grabbed her wrists stopping her. “No, we can’t.” He whispered breathlessly. Was he telling her to stop or himself? She kissed him and looked at him with smoldering eyes. “I love you.” The words may have been an attempt to persuade him to relinquish, they still sounded like music to his ears. “I love you too. But we can’t do this now. Not as a distraction.” He grabbed his discarded shirt avoiding her sultry appearance and near naked breasts. Kate sat next to him and pouted. “Greg, I want to.” “I do to.” He stood up from the couch to give him some distance. The temptation was strong and he fought against the magnetic pull. “That isn’t the problem. We’ve already had this talk.” “Don’t you like me?” She was getting dangerously close to crying. Tears would mean comfort and he wasn’t going to have the power to withdrawal from another close encounter. He sat back down and kissed her for reassurance. She misread the signal and wrapped him tightly in her eager arms. She was still shirtless and his brain was already asking for the reasons why he couldn’t proceed with his natural instincts. Maybe it was a different body part asking. “Katie, please.” He picked up her tee and handed it to her. “I’m not as strong as you think.” “Hi, we’re home.” Andy called as he dropped luggage at the door with a loud thump. Kate quickly pulled her shirt over her head before she was discovered. “Welcome home.” Greg voice was too high. “Kate, you’re here.” Angela said without a hint of surprise. She gave the situation a critical once over.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

“We’re watching a movie.” Greg blurted out. That was apparent. The television was still

43

flashing scenes of a farcical car chase through LA traffic. He muted the sound and did his best to keep his panting to a minimum. “We caught an earlier flight.” Andy said as he read over messages and mail that had collected in his absence. Either he had done the math or he was oblivious to the clues. “I’ll let you guys settle in.” Kate gave Greg a hug and left out the front door. “How was Hawaii?” Greg asked taking the deepest breaths possible without sounding like he was winded. He was still charged up. “How was the movie?” Angela responded. Greg looked back at the TV thinking it was an odd question. “I’ve seen it before. It’s a gangster film. I like it.” “Were you even watching it?” Angela glanced down at Greg’s shirttails. His eyes dropped and he realized that he had buttoned up one hole off leaving uneven ends. He gulped. “It’s not what you think.” “And her shirt was inside out.” Angela added. “Angela, I trust Greg to be a good kid.” Andy hid his real concern. He would talk to Greg later. “What if Ian was here?” “No one was here and we didn’t do anything.” Greg felt guilty even after exerting the most moral strength ever in his life. “I’ll go unpack.” Angela picked up the bags and walked upstairs. “Sorry to interrupt.” Andy sighed and sat down. He patted the stool next to him and Greg sat. “We probably need to have a long over due talk.” “Okay.” “I know that you and Kate are pretty serious but you’re just kids.” He started. “Wait, dad, we weren’t doing anything. I mean, we started to go too far and we stopped.” Andy gave him a disbelieving look. “Greg, I see how close you two are.” “I swear dad. I would tell you the truth.” He believed he would. It was probably another reason for him to keep things on the safe side.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

“I was your age once. It’s natural that you have these feelings but you’re young and …”

44

Greg cut him off. “I promise you that we didn’t do anything other than remove our shirts and we stopped and put them back on before you came in.” He was re-buttoning his shirt as he spoke. “Would I have time to button up at all if it weren’t true?” “You can sense when I come home.” Andy knew Greg had learned that talent from Kate and her family. “Dad, it isn’t that simple. You can’t let yourself get THAT distracted. I wouldn’t be able to do both.” Greg was red in the face. “And if I knew you were coming home, why not send Kate home and hide in my room?” That convinced Andy and even if it didn’t, it was a valid point he could mention to his wife. “Angela worries about Ian and the influence you already have on him.” “I get that.” He groaned. When he recalled Margo’s visit, he almost wished to have the heart to heart about sex, love and girls. “There’s something else. Something I need to tell you. Can I change the subject now? I mean, you believe me, right?” Andy nodded knowing he was letting Greg off easier than even a non-disciplinarian like himself should. “Margo stopped by today. I don’t know what she wanted. She said that she wasn’t here to be back in my life and didn’t expect me to forgive her. Then she left her number and went.” Andy frowned. “How odd? I wonder if she knew I was out of town?” “Probably. She knew you were remarried.” “She still has friends in town. Stupid clucking hens.” “She was insistent to come in but Kate was with me and she called over Eric. He wielded his power of repulsion to run her off.” Andy laughed. Eric was the kind of guy that he would have hung out with in school. The kind of guy that would do just about anything for his friends. “I’ll call her and ask her not to come back. Where’s her number?” Greg fished it out of the trash.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


45

“You were that glad to see her.” He smirked. “She is your mother. I wouldn’t blame you if you wanted to get to know her.” “I don’t.” Greg was absolute. “Anyway, how was Hawaii, really?” “It was beautiful. We got out for some adventure everyday. It wasn’t all…” He lifted his eyebrows in an evocative way. “Dad, I don’t want to have that talk on either end.” Greg made a grossed out face.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

Greg’s First Mistake Greg didn’t know what his dad told Angela but she seemed less concerned the next day. She

46

picked up Ian in the morning and they went as a family to the sporting good store. Ian was going to need a full set of gear and Greg still hadn’t replaced some of his worn out equipment. Baseball camp was in Santa Barbara and Greg and Ian chose to commute rather than room overnight. Angela didn’t offer to drive. Greg guessed because it was thirty minutes each way four days a week. They arranged a carpool with Chris and Brad. There were some other kids from Santa Katrina High School who attended but Chris had offered to be part of the carpool when Greg called to apologize for being rude at the batting cages. It worked out well. Chris and Brad accepted Ian immediately. He was timorous to leave them to be with the younger kids but Chris’ cousin Billy who lived in Santa Barbara was in the same year. Ian and Billy hit it off easily. They kept an eye on the younger kids the first week. Ian was way behind in skill having never played. Every day they spent the ride home catching him up on the basic rules of the game and how to improve his form. For Fourth of July weekend Greg took Kate to Disneyland. It was a mistake because it was so crowded that they had to wait an hour or two for most big rides. The fireworks were well worth the hassle. They should have stayed closer to home but Greg needed some away time from the new family. He would have liked to stay the night in Anaheim since it was such a long drive but their parents would have freaked. Plus Kate would surely expect to move on to PG-13 or worse. She was wearing down his resolve. They had a weekend trip to San Francisco coming up in a few weeks to look forward to and they would be with parents in separate rooms. Kate already wished for a room to share with him. Greg was taking a lot of cold showers. By the second week of camp Ian was doing better and after three weeks he was at ease. It was in week four that Ian got walloped in the head with a stray pitch. His batting helmet took the brunt of the blow but it gave him a bad headache. Greg convinced him it was better not to mention it to his mother. It wasn’t easy for Ian to keep it under his hat but he kept quiet even under some extra grilling. Angela sensed

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

he was nervous about something but dropped it when he didn’t spill the beans. He grinned at Greg when she wasn’t looking and he winked at him. Andy had caught it and rolled his eyes. He had figured it out.

47

The San Francisco trip finally arrived. Greg offered to trade the tickets for six but Angela said Ian was going camping with his father that weekend. They got three rooms; one for Andy and Angela, one for Jim and Greg and one for Kate. The hotel was in the Fisherman’s Wharf area. They went a day early to do typical sightseeing stuff. They first rode a cable car to Union Square. Greg enjoyed the ride but found the area boring. It was mostly shops, stores and boutiques. After Union Square they ate lunch at one of the restaurants on the wharf and toured Alcatraz. Greg didn’t realize it was considered escape proof. There was one missing prisoner who was presumed dead but all other attempts had failed. Why did they ever shut it down? Dinner was at a cute diner over looking the bay on Pier 39, which had one major flaw – more stores everywhere Greg looked. Finally a small glimmer of fortune smiled on the men. One shop was a huge sports store that had products for every team conceivable, college and pro. Angela and Kate had to drag the boys out after an hour. Angela wasn’t shopped out. Jim decided to go back to the hotel and hit the treadmill. Kate and Greg ventured off to Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum and let the newlyweds have some alone time or was it to get some alone time. Greg wanted to get away from all the stores but it proved to be an ideal location to take Kate. Every other exhibit seemed to be of some strange human oddity and she’d cringe into his arms. He didn’t mind it all. After braving the strange, the bizarre, the unexpected, they enjoyed a milkshake from In-and-Out Burger and sat outside watching the people. San Francisco was a better place to people watch other than Hollywood and there wasn’t a close third on the West Coast. Unless you counted Vegas and that was four hours in from the nearest beach. A man squatted across the street from them holding up two bush branches on either side of him. If someone walked by on the sidewalk they wouldn’t notice he wasn’t a real bush and he’d jump out and startle them. The people took it well as they laughed at their foolishness. It was usually after they were scared that they noticed a thin crowd standing nearby snickering at each fright.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


48

“Why did Jim go work out? Doesn’t he understand we’re on vacation?” Greg took a long draw on his straw. It was needed because the shake was thick. There was an art to doing it just right without getting a brain freeze. “There’s this new lady at work.” Kate rolled her eyes. “She’s too young for him and I don’t like her.” “You said you wanted to find him someone.” The words had escaped before he realized it was a dumb comment to make. Kate wasn’t only a Graham but part Thomas and people didn’t get free passes with them. “Not just anyone.” Kate wanted only the best for her father. “Someone good for him.” “You remind me of Eric. Give the lady a chance.” “We’ll see.” She batted her eyes. “Katie, will anyone ever be good enough for Jim?” “She’s out there somewhere but it isn’t Holly.” “Poor guy. You’re going to become a mini-Eric.” Kate made a loud hmph noise. “That’s easy for you to say. You like Angela. She’s great.” “She was more fun before they got married.” She was still pretty fun but Greg wished she would ease up on Ian. Kate giggled. “Give the lady a chance.” She echoed his advice. “It’s a lot of adjusting for everyone.” “I hate it when you use my words against me. It’s so wrong.” She stuck out her tongue. “If you weren’t such a hypocrite I wouldn’t have so many opportunities.” “I’m the hypocrite.” Greg raised his eyebrows up denoting the huge stinking lie she created. “Need I remind you how much your brothers irked you when they scared off interested parties?” “No, you needn’t. It never really bothered me until they tried to scare you off.” Greg rolled his eyes. “What are you going to do if Jim and this lady start to date?” “I haven’t done anything to stop it.”

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


49

“Yet.” Greg laughed because it was true. “You went pretty bonkers when Brian got personal with Stacey.” When Stacey set her eyes on Kate’s brother Brian, she had gone ballistic. But then, Stacey only pursued Brian to piss off Kate. “That isn’t comparable and Eric was prepared to help if things didn’t get better.” Kate got a little more serious when that memory was brought up. For one long painful weekend, Stacey had successfully confounded Brian enough to ignore Kate thinking she had been the instigator in their spat. “And what if it was Eric that was the victim of some succubus?” He knew full well that would be even a greater threat than this Holly was. “Break them up, if they even get to dating.” She had a smirk on her face that was a perfect match to the twins’ wicked grin. “He would do the same for me.” He had. Greg thought. “What if he stopped us from dating?” Greg kissed her to make sure she comprehended it would have been an enormous travesty. Kate tossed the paradox around in her brain. “You didn’t ask me out until December.” “So?” “Eric had already deemed you worthy. By December he was rooting for you.” She found a loophole. “He may have not even allowed me to talk to anyone else but you by then. Maybe we’re only dating because he allowed it to happen.” That was stretching things too far. She dated Chris around that time and Eric wasn’t interfering. Greg decided to let her win the battle as he moved onto the war. “Fine. At least Eric will have a chance at combat.” Greg took his defeat with only a moderate amount of grace. “What does that mean?” “Eric taught you everything he knows. That’ll give him a fighting chance if you try to scare off one of his admirers.” “Back then, he only could do telekinesis. Right now, I can already do that and more.” She stated proudly. “And you could only deter them from doing telekinesis. He can do everything you do and he knows how to make trouble like a pro. Honey, admit it. He’s above your league.”

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

Kate sighed. Bored with their theoretical what ifs. “It won’t happen. I’m not as territorial as him.” Greg kissed her again. “Don’t kid yourself.”

50

Kate wanted to get some Boudin sourdough bread for her mother. They picked up a few loafs and headed back to their hotel a few blocks away. Kate’s phone rang and she answered. It was Greg’s cousin Meg. Meg was her best friend and she had been out of country for three weeks with her family in Europe. Stuck at JFK airport waiting for their connection flight she was bored and tired and decided to give Kate a quick call to pass the time. They were a couple of blocks in from the water and there weren’t as many people around. Kate sat down on a bus stop bench and Greg realized it wasn’t going to be as quick as she made it initially sound. Motioning to Kate so she would know where he was going he ran into the drug store. He wanted some water and the hotel bottles were five dollars each. They could afford it but it was the principle of the matter. Greg grabbed water and gum and stood in the slowest line he had ever waited in. The clerk was a man in his sixties if you rounded down and the guy at the front of the line was paying in all coins. He was homeless. There were many homeless people in San Francisco. The homeless guy started talking to Greg about the Emperor Norton, some nineteenth century citizen of the city that apparently had declared himself the Emperor of the United States. Greg smiled genially not knowing how to stop the conversation but said nothing that might prolong it. Finally the clerk finished that purchase and rang up Greg’s items, scanning each bottle separately even though the scanner sputtered and they were identical. Greg wished he had exact change but he had used up all his luck when they found the sports shop. It took the man some time to count out the change – first from the register and then into Greg’s waiting palm. Greg walked back to the bench on but Kate was gone. He started mentally searching for her and as he sensed her a vision flashed in his mind of two men approaching her on a dark corner. He sprinted in her direction. Turning the corner he found one had her pinned up against a chain link fence holding her shoulder and waving a knife at her neck.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


51

He focused on the knife and it flew out of the man’s hand and away from Kate falling on the street far out of reach. Confused at first, the man spotted Greg. The other guy was grabbing the knife but got lost in the few steps as he approached it. Kate must have blocked out his senses. “Get away from her!” Greg bellowed dropping his bags at his feet. The guy pulled Kate to him and grabbed her thin throat in his meaty paw. “Go away.” Greg halted. He tried to pull the man’s hand but it didn’t move. “Something wrong?” The man asked. “Move along and we’ll see that she’s returned safely.” Greg wasn’t going to go anywhere. “And you,” the thug tugged at Kate’s throat, “undo whatever you are doing to my friend.” He had noticed Kate’s concentration on his companion. His friend’s eyesight returned and he picked up the knife. He smiled showing several missing teeth and handed the weapon back to the lead assailant. What’re they doing? Greg asked Kate mentally. One can resist. It’s a primitive level but I can’t bypass it. Greg stepped forward. “Get back.” He had his knife at Kate’s throat again, his pal by his side. Katie, you block him and I’ll take the knife. Greg got a head nod from Kate that she understood. The knife flew out of the man’s hand and into Greg’s. The other was expecting another move. He lunged at Greg hitting him in his left eye and knocking the knife back to the ground. Kate had pushed the other guy off her with telekinesis and he ran seeing they were more effort than he cared to deal with. Greg threw the man who hit him against the fence using mental reinforcements and when he landed on the ground he ran after his comrade. Greg embraced Kate. “I’m sorry.” She enjoyed the safety of his arms. “I wasn’t worried. You’re my hero and you wouldn’t let anything happen to me. I started walking and chatting and not paying attention where I was going when they pulled my phone from my hand.” She scanned around the ground. Her phone was smashed on the street. Greg picked it up still holding her. “Let’s get out of here.”

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

“Is your eye okay?” He pulled out a bottle of water and held the bulbous end to his eye socket. It stung but she was

52

fine and that was all that mattered. They got to his room just as Jim got back from his workout. From the looks of it Jim had pushed himself hard. His shirt was soaking with perspiration. “What happened?” “Some guys tried to mug me.” Kate told her dad. Jim paled to hear she was in danger then he examined Greg’s eye. “How did you get hit?” He knew that between Kate and Greg they should have the upper hand in any confrontation. “One of them had some resisting ability.” He pulled the water from his face. “Is it bad?” “It’s going to show in the morning.” Jim opened their room. Kate’s suite was adjoined to theirs. Jim took Kate into his arms. Greg went to check his eye in the bathroom mirror. He flinched when he touched it. It was a solid hit and very tender. “I shouldn’t have left you.” Jim sighed. Everyone was so cautious with Kate and that might never change. “Dad, Greg was there.” Kate said matter-of-factly. “And we’ve been through worse.” Greg couldn’t tell if she was putting on a brave front for their sakes. She seemed steady. It saddened him to think she was used to being attacked. She had toughened after the many attempts Gran made to harm her. “It’s my fault. I went to get some water when she got a phone call.” Greg admitted as he sat in the chair by the desk. It seemed so inconsequential at the time but in hindsight it was idiotic. Jim frowned at him. He agreed Greg shouldn’t have walked off but it wasn’t in Greg’s control if two hooligans jumped Kate. “It’s over now. We’re all safe.” He pushed the hair out of his daughters face and kissed her forehead. “Sleep tight.” After Kate went to her room Jim called the police to report the attempted robbery. That night Kate pulled Greg into her dream to check on him. In the dream they were in her misty hotel room. After he convinced her that he was fine, he held her as she started to fall asleep. He didn’t allow himself to sleep because he might wake up in the wrong hotel room in the morning. It had happened like that once before.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM
 Angela Gets Maternal

53

Jim took the news of the mugging better than Angela or Andy. Angela was frantic in the morning. It only added to Andy’s fear. He didn’t like seeing the shiner on Greg’s face as a reminder of their escapade. “No more wondering off alone.” He commanded. It was pointless. They were leaving San Francisco after the game. They got to the stadium early and found their seats just a dozen rows up from home plate. The only time Greg left Kate was when he took off with Andy and Jim to walk around the ballpark. It was gorgeous. Greg had to explain to Kate why they were still wearing Dodger hats even though they weren’t playing the Giants. “It’s a sign of loyalty.” “Does it really matter? They’re both California teams.” Kate naively asked fudging with her cap. She wanted to take it off but she wore it for him and Jim. “Girls.” Andy muttered and got a dirty look from Angela, who was wearing a Giants hat. She grew up in the Bay Area and was a devout San Francisco fan. Greg kept an arm around Kate or held her hand through the whole game. She may not have been shaken by their exploit but he was. He wanted to keep her close. The fans were much rowdier than L.A. fans even though they were playing a team from another division. Greg sat on the end of their group and the man next to him kept looking at his black eye until the game started. It annoyed Greg. After a few innings and an equal number of beers the fan leaned towards them and asked Kate, “Do you want to date someone that can better defend himself?” He must have been in his mid-twenties. “How would you look if you didn’t have a weapon and a guy pulled a knife on you?” Kate counter questioned. Greg was her champion. Greg kissed the top of her Dodger hat. “I wouldn’t date a Dodger fan anyway.” He was only messing with them for fun. “They are much more vigilant here, aren’t they?” Kate grimaced at the man who had been teasing them. “It could have been worse. We could have gone to an A’s game. They’re the worst.” “Amen to that brother.” The Giants fan approved and clicked his beer to Greg’s soda.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


54

“The A’s are bad? Worse than Dodgers?” Kate asked the local fan. Kate never fully understood the mystery behind the passion of a fan for his team. Seeing the anti-passion for select opposition baffled her. “They’re just Raider fans in baseball caps.” The fan remarked shaking his head incredulously that he needed to educate her. Unfortunately his statement was too coded for Kate to decipher. Greg laughed at the joke Kate missed. She was adorably confused. “Worse than Yankees.” The fan slurred out. “Don’t lie.” Jim couldn’t resist the debate. It was too much for him to hear that Yankees weren’t the bottom of anyone’s list. He was a part time Red Sox fan and although the 86 year long curse had ended in 2004, he still had deep scars from the Yankees keeping them from the final prize so many times. “It’s true.” The unknown fan gave a concise drunken rebuttal. “At least there’s an explanation for Yankee domination.” He held up his hand and rubbed his thumb and fingers in the international gesture for money. “Kate, don’t listen to him. There’s nothing lower than a Yankee.” Jim smiled. She was his daughter and she would learn the truth by him. Angela coughed. She agreed with the souse. “I’ll explain it to you later.” Greg whispered realizing neither man would back down from who was the least of them all. And if it went much longer there would be a melee as the argument seeped to the crowd around them. Given the terrain, he figured there was more animosity towards the A’s but the Yanks were hated in any town that had a team. There would be enough willing participants to escalate to a brawl. By the end of the game Kate was resting on Greg’s shoulder trying to stay awake. She didn’t sleep well after the excitement and it caught up on her. They climbed into Jim’s Escalade to head home. Angela offered to sit in the back to give the men the most legroom. Kate and Greg sat in the very back and she dozed off in his arms. It was after eleven when they arrived at their houses. Greg was ready to hit the sack. He started up the stairs but was stopped. “Just a second young man.” Angela pointed to the kitchen. Greg led the way as they sat at the dinner table.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


55

“I’m a little worried about how close you and Kate are. You’re too young to be that involved with someone.” “Now Angela.” Andy put up his hands in a let’s-stay-calm motion. “Look at how much trouble they get into.” “That has nothing to do with our relationship.” Greg tried to keep his voice even. He would pick his battles but his relationship with Kate was off limits. “Regardless, this is too intense.” She dismissed. “You aren’t even in college. Andy feels the same he just doesn’t want to put his foot down.” She expected him to back her up. “I didn’t say that. I said I could see how you felt that way. I am not worried about Greg and Kate.” “Please, they were all over each other today and I haven’t forgotten their state of disarray when we got back from Hawaii.” “They went through quite a bit the night before.” Andy defended. “If I hadn’t protested, you would’ve let them share a room.” She fought back. “For all we know, Jim allowed them sleep together.” “Wait a second. You cannot make accusations like that. Jim is a great father.” Andy wouldn’t allow that. She went too far when she doubted Jim. “Hmph.” She sighed. “Look at his eye. How can you see that and not think they’re too young to be spending so much time alone.” “This was from a mugger.” Greg pointed to his sore eye. “And it would’ve happened if it was Meg who was jumped or you or anyone.” “Greg can handle himself fine in a fair fight. Although, I am surprised they laid a hand on you.” “One could resist.” Greg kept it vague to not tip off Angela. “What does that mean?” Angela didn’t like that the conversation got cryptic. “That it takes more than the ordinary thief to get the jump on him.” Andy debated what to tell her. “Don’t worry about it.” Greg wished his father had waited to bring up his doubts. “What are you not telling me?”

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

Andy shrugged like he would rather tell her and end the uncomfortable exchange than keep it secret. “No dad.” Greg shook his head. His instinct was to keep his skills guarded. “She’s family.” “I’m waiting.” Angela was agitated. “We aren’t like most people.” Andy begun. “I have a gift of seeing through people’s eyes, not anyone’s but people that I am close to. I have seen through your eyes.” “I don’t believe you.”

56

Andy handed her a paper and pen. “Write something.” She gave him a disbelieving look and then turned her back so he couldn’t see her writing. “You’re lying.” He said accurately reading her writing. “Anyone could… Supercalifridge… I’m a little teapot…” She dropped the pen. “Okay. Let’s say I believe you for now.” “Greg can do the same. He can also block out senses. Greg, would you show Angela what I mean.” Greg bobbed his head more as a sign he would concede than a proper yes. Soon Angela was feeling around as if all the lights were out and then she realized she couldn’t hear as one hand moved up to her ear. He released her senses. She glanced at Greg. “You did that?” He nodded. “And he learned some tricks from Kate. She has one that we call empathy and that enables her to relate to other people and be relatable. If she uses it when she’s using another gift or they’re using a gift in front of her, she shares or picks a skill. They can move things without touching them, talk without speaking, share dreams and block out other people’s abilities. I’m forgetting a few.” “We can speed up and move very quickly.” Greg undecidedly continued. “And she can hear really far away. She can probably hear us now if she was listening. And she can communicate with animals.” “What do you mean share dreams?” Angela asked. It couldn’t be her only question.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

“It only works with people she knows and they have to be willing to share. It isn’t as limited as our vision where we have to be very connected but she can’t just pull in anyone. You enter a dream in a

57

misty room and you both remember it in the morning.” Greg didn’t mention that they could hand things off in the dreams or that she once pulled him through to her room before. Angela poked at the pen on the table. “You can move that?” The pen lifted and wrote on the notepad the word “yes.” She sank into a chair. “Okay, I’m starting to believe you.” “They were already close but last year Kate’s family was in a lot of trouble and Greg and I helped them through it. Well Greg did. I didn’t do much other than offer moral support. But they couldn’t hide it from me because whenever Jim was in danger I could see what was going on.” Andy gave a broad story without any real substance. “What kind of danger?” Angela did like the sound of it. “Don’t worry about it.” Andy put his hands on her shoulders and gently massaged them. “That doesn’t explain why they have to be so serious.” “Even if you told me not to date her we would still be able to see each other in dreams. It’s really pointless to lay down that law.” Greg said casually. “And what do you do in these dreams?” “Nothing like what you’re thinking.” Greg didn’t like the pointed accusation. He wasn’t going to mention that they had the same consequences if they had sex in a dream as they would in their waking lives. “Sure.” She challenged. “Please.” Andy warned. “So if they’re a little close because of all that has happened, I’m fine with it. They have stood up to tougher things than some married couples. More than we have. They’re stronger for it.” Greg had never attributed their bond to their experiences. There was truth in it but he was seeing through Kate’s eyes before anything had gotten hazardous. “It wasn’t enough. He still got hit.” Despite her attempts to thwart his relationship, she was genuinely worried about him.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

“It probably could’ve been avoided but it isn’t like I can do all these things at once. It takes concentration.” Angela went to bed with a lot to think about.

58

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

Last Week of Camp Kate and Meg went shopping the next day to catch up on their time apart. Kate needed to get a new phone to replace her broken one.

59

Greg and the others went to baseball camp for their final week. Their coaches were running late and the older boys watched the younger ones play for a while. Ian had really improved and would easily make the St. Iggy’s junior varsity team. “How did you get that black eye?” Brad waited to bring up the topic when Ian wasn’t around. He had a better chance at more information without the younger brother in earshot. “Eric, maybe Matt?” Chris kidded. “I wouldn’t be standing if one of them hit me.” Greg tried to keep it light but secretly regretted the next time he saw Eric. If he were lucky, he would get a good telling off and nothing more. He hadn’t been feeling lucky for a while. “We ran into some thugs in San Francisco.” “What happened?” “You know how Katie is kind of innocent and doesn’t get that there is a real darker world?” They nodded. “We were heading back to the hotel when she got a call from Meg and while she was talking I stupidly walked off. She strolled around not paying attention to where she was going and ended up on a deserted street. These two guys tried to rob her at knifepoint. We scared them off but the other got me right in the eye.” “You’re lucky it wasn’t worse.” Brad noted. He was impressed that Greg fought off two guys who had knives but it was an alarming situation to think about. “Why did you walk off?” Chris sounded critical. “Just getting some water and gum. I didn’t think she was going to move without me.” Greg didn’t like the tone of Chris’ question. “It was brainless. I shouldn’t have done it.” His guilt surged, as did his jealousy. Chris probably wouldn’t have left her alone in a big city. It was the dumbest thing Greg ever did. “Don’t be so hard on yourself.” Brad defended. “You can’t be around Kate every second. What are the chances that she’d be attacked?”

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


60

Considering her track record – pretty good. “She took it well. Kate is very brave. Angela lost it. Somehow she tied it back to us being too young to be so serious.” Greg rolled his eyes. “She tried to get Dad to put down his foot on our relationship.” “That doesn’t even make sense.” “I know. When they came back from their honeymoon they kind of caught us in a compromising position and she jumped to the wrong conclusion immediately.” “That sucks.” Brad remarked as he read into the subtle undertone in Greg’s statement. “You two aren’t…” “No, we aren’t.” Greg quickly said. “We have plenty of time to get there.” Chris was relieved and that aggravated Greg. “You’re better off.” He seemed to be speaking from experience. “I didn’t mean to screw everything in a skirt but when you left my prom party so early I just figured you had big plans.” Brad admitted. He hadn’t passed second base but he wasn’t allowed to get serious until he was in college on a scholarship. “Me too.” Chris echoed. “We didn’t.” Greg flushed. “Let’s not talk about it. What are we? Girls?” Their coaches called them over and started the day’s games. Greg was third at bat. He readied for the first pitch when suddenly everything went black and he couldn’t hear a thing. He stepped back and held up his hand. Whoever was blacking out his vision he could stop it. His ability to hinder others wasn’t as well developed as Kate’s but he focused and resumed his position. If hitting wasn’t second nature, he wouldn’t have been able to do both but he hit a double despite the split attention. He tried to sense where the person was to see who it could be. His suspicions went to Eric or Matt and they would have reason to play a prank if they found out about the assault and battery. It wasn’t the kind of stunt that would amuse them – not enough personal torment. Some spectators who weren’t part of the camp sat in the bleachers. There were usually a few coaches and college recruiters looking for new talent. Greg found a thirty-something man sitting in the back row wearing dark sunglasses and a cap. Greg was sure that was the man that had blocked out his

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


61

senses. He could see a mild frustration on his face since the affect was negligible. When the man realized he had been singled out from the crowd by Greg’s glare he calmly but hurriedly left. After scoring Greg went to the dugout. Chris asked him if his eye was okay. He thought that was why Greg missed the first pitch and stood back. Brad was at his other side. “Stings.” Greg lied. Brad didn’t know about any of his abilities. Even if Brad was his best friend, telling people about your metaphysical skills was against his nature. Chris was even farther down on the list of who he would consider divulging secrets to. When they got home Greg texted Eric to stop when he had time. If anyone could help him it would be the overly intelligent and devilish Eric. He was there within the hour. “You really need to practice telepathy.” Eric chastised. “I was only a block away.” It was because Greg used his phone to call him over. “I’m fine when I can see the person.” And he didn’t think of it. “What’s up? Need to blow off more steam?” They hadn’t seen each other since Greg’s temper tantrum after his mother’s visit. That got his brain running through new possibilities. “No. At camp today there was this man in the stands that was blocking me out. Now that I think about it, maybe that was what Margo was worried about.” “How’s that?” “I suppose other people could have the same gifts but it’s more likely that a blood relative would have the identical skill.” Having an idea how this guy tied back to him settled his nerves. “What a lame way to come find me.” “Do you have Margo’s number still?” “Why bother? I can block it. Let him go back to Margo and tell her I didn’t want to see him either.” “Maybe that isn’t a good idea.” Eric worked out a theory. “What if he’s testing you? You don’t want him knowing that you have picked up new tricks.” Leave it to a mastermind to recognize one of his own. “Testing me for what?”

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

“Well, why come and find you now? And why not come forward and introduce himself like a normal person? You should call your mother. If she was expecting this she can shed some light on the matter.” Eric was sincerely concerned and that was unnerving. Eric didn’t get scared without a good reason. “He was provoking you.” “I don’t want to talk to her. That isn’t an option.” “You really are quite stubborn.” “I wonder how Katie ever learned to cope with it.” Greg glared at his hypocritical friend.

62

“Fine, fine. You got me there.” For all the things Eric was, unaware of himself wasn’t one of his faults. Unaware his flaws weren’t assets, definite maybe. “Okay, if we don’t do this the easy way,” he rolled his eyes, “let’s think of another way. Do you think he’ll go back?” “I don’t know.” “If he does, send me a signal and I’ll come over. I’ll see what I can find out. Telepathy will only work if he is allowing his thoughts to be heard. I can at least get his license plate or something. You should play like it’s working.” “I can do that for a day. Do me a favor though. Don’t mention this to Katie.” “That’s a mistake.” “Please.” “Does this have anything to do with that shiner?” Eric had already connected the black eye to Kate’s wellbeing. Greg regrettably told Eric the whole story. Then he prepared for the worst and hoped for the best. Using telekinesis he fortified himself for impact. Eric went rigid as he held back his temper. “How many times have I told you she gets into trouble at the drop of a hat. You can’t let her wonder around strange cities alone.” Eric yelled but held his anger evenly, for him. Greg believed it was only the fact that they were both safe that Eric didn’t blow. He was too protective of Kate to be tolerant of any situation that jeopardized her. “Don’t let it happen again.” It was the first time in almost a year that Eric sounded so threatening towards Greg. In comparison, it was rather mild.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


63

Greg took it with a grain of salt. He deserved worse, much worse. The fact Eric let him off with such an understated reproof showed that their friendship had true value. The next day at baseball Greg didn’t wait for a blackout to combe the stands for the same man’s presence. He found him lurking by the picnic tables. He texted Eric to come and he arrived by the end of the first inning. Greg had asked to sit out the start of the game claiming to have a headache and the coach allowed it. The coaches were going soft on him with his shiner. By the fourth inning Greg was in the game and playing third. There was a line drive right to him when he senses went black again. He had already picked up the ball and using only his reflexes he threw it to first. Did he get it? He mentally asked Eric. Yes. Now get off the field. Greg started waving a hand and covered his eyes with his glove. “I can’t see anything.” He said in the direction of his dugout. He couldn’t hear his words. For all he knew he could be shouting. Brad grabbed his shoulders and pulled him to a bench. His senses were returning to him. The man had let him go but was still in the park. “Could be a heat stroke.” One of the older coaches diagnosed. Clearly doctoring wasn’t his day job. “You’re out for the day. Stay in the shade and drink lots of water.” Brad took his place on the field. Greg couldn’t see Eric. He would wait for Eric to get back to him. He didn’t want to interrupt him from whatever he was up to. After a few minutes he got a mental message from Eric to get permission to go home. Greg asked to leave for the day. Brad promised he would get Ian back safely. He would hear it from Angela later but he would take the risk. Greg found Eric in the parking lot leaning against his parents’ Mercedes with arms crossed. Once they were on the freeway Eric started talking. “He was right where you said he would be. I tried to pick up his thoughts and he made it darn easy. He was pleased it worked today. He thought you singled him out because he didn’t look like the other spectators writing notes. He was confident you didn’t see him again. I chatted him up asking him dumb things like if he was a recruiter. He said he was a father of one the players and pointed to Chris. Not that I couldn’t tell he was lying anyway. He must think I’m a dolt

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


64

because he couldn’t be old enough to be a father of a teenager. He’s your uncle and wanted to needle you to see if you what you could do. He’s checking you out. He wants you to help him with something.” “Why does he need my help? He can do the same thing I can.” “But you can only do that to one person at a time. He may have a need to do it to more than one person.” Eric really was a natural when calculating other’s motives. “I didn’t get a good vibe from him. He’s a shady guy. Then he started asking me why I was there. I said I had some friends that were being considered by my college and I was there for support. He bought it.” “Of course he did. Katie always said you were a better liar than truther.” “She shouldn’t brag about me like that.” He had his wicked grin at full force, being that he was so helpful, it didn’t bother Greg – much. “After a while he said he had to get going and he left in a red Toyota truck.” Eric pulled out a piece of paper with a license plate number on it. “I’ll get Brian to look this up for me. He has a way with computers.” “Can he show you how to do it? I mean I don’t want Katie to find out and the fewer people who know the better.” Greg requested. Brian was close to Kate and even if he withheld information from her, she might pick it up. Eric and Matt could keep things from their brother and sister without breaking a sweat. Kate and Brian folded like a house of cards at the first sign of lost pretense. “I’ll see. If it isn’t an easy lesson he may have to do it. I can make up a story. Don’t worry about Kate finding out but you should tell her.” Eric hoped Greg would change his mind. “Not yet. Let’s see what he wants first.” “Look who is overprotective now.” Greg pointed at his eye. “I’m learning it’s needed.” “I whole heartedly approve. I meant it as an endorsement.” That was the best argument Eric gave Greg to tell all but he stood by his choice too pigheaded to alter his decision. Eric dropped Greg off with a promise to get back to him as soon as he had any new information. Greg walked in to the empty house, which meant he wouldn’t face the inquisition. Taking advantage of the isolation he went down into the basement to see if he could find any pictures from before his parents

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


65

separated. His dad was an organized pack rat. He might have tossed out any photos from the early years but it was worth a quick search. Turning on the basement light Greg saw Ian’s drum set. He had sat and listened to Ian practice a couple of times. It was out of brotherly duty that he agreed to it but it turned out Ian was pretty skilled. It was the coolest thing about the kid. Andy’s small storage room was just behind the drums. In one box Greg found some old papers, grades and yearbooks from St. Iggy’s. He should have pushed on with his task but he couldn’t resist the temptation. To his surprise, his father was a straight A student. It wasn’t that Andy wasn’t smart. He had a good head on his shoulders and great mind for logic but he only used it for generating bad puns and silly quips. After hearing about his infamous rap sheet, Greg just assumed his dad had lacked the discipline to make the grades. Boy was he wrong. He flipped through the pages of the most recent yearbook. St. Iggy’s had a tradition of giving the seniors a half page that included their pictures, a short high school biography, quotes, favorites and anything else they wanted to include within the space given. His father was the first senior and had the goofiest grin of the lot. The last line of his personal blurb said “Thanks Father Francis and sorry for some of it.” Jim’s was farther back and looked as out dated. His last line read “Ditto.” They were so young. He found the sports section and a picture of the baseball team with his dad and Jim. Jim was wearing his old cap that he gave Greg when he was five. Flipping randomly before putting the book down he saw a picture from a dance and Jim was with Sandy. They were Kate’s parents but they hadn’t been together in years. It was odd to see them arm in arm at a school function. He wondered how Sandy ended up with Ron if she met Jim first but had Kate last. It must be scandalous. He had expected as much since she didn’t meet Jim until a year earlier. What little Kate had revealed on the topic was covert and it was clear it wasn’t an easy topic for her. The boxes were probably organized in chronological order so he skipped a couple and opened up the next most likely prospect. On top was an old photo album that had pictures starting from his birth. There were several empty spaces and Greg realized that all the snapshots had Margo in them. Andy must have relocated all other pictures to the albums he kept upstairs. Even in the picture at the hospital with his mother holding him after he was born she looked awkward. Maybe he wasn’t being fair. It could have

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


66

been a long labor. He didn’t really know much about that day. All his dad ever told him is how much love he felt when he first held Greg in his arms. Greg slammed the book shut and poked down deeper in the box. He picked a fancy white album up knowing it was his best shot. He didn’t like seeing the photos. They were like any other wedding pictures but knowing the heartache that loomed in the not too distant future made it disingenuous. The first pictures were of each side of the wedding parties, followed by the ceremony and finally picture with the inlaws. He found the picture that was clearly Margo’s family. There was a boy about Ian’s age. There was only a father and he had his hands on the shoulders of the young boy and a younger girl. The boy had dark hair and brown eyes. Greg couldn’t know for sure if it was the same man from the park but he was in the right age range. He took out one of the photos to show Eric later. When Greg was back in the house Ian was home watching TV. “Brad said you got sun stroke.” Ian said checking on his big brother. “I should take it easy since my eye isn’t healed.” They told Ian that Greg ran into a door. It was an absurd tale but Ian didn’t doubt it coming from his mother, Andy and Greg. He was too inexperienced to weed out the discrepancies. Greg sat on the couch. “How was your day?” “Great. I still can’t hit the ball over the fence but I get on base almost every time.” “That’s way more important to keep the game going than hit a homer every at bat.” “Do you think mom will let me try out for the school team?” “I don’t know her that well. Dad will help talk her into it if she resists.” She was easing up a little faster than a slug’s pace but headed in the right direction. She had a carefree spirit somewhere inside that needed to be let loose. He had seen it. Andy would get it out if he had to mine for it. Greg knew his dad had the mind to do it. “Should I not mention that you got hurt?” “I’d like that but you don’t have to cover for me.” “I want to.” Ian was too eager to help. “Thanks.” Greg got up to answer the phone. He expected it was Eric and it was. “Hey.” “Hi, Brian is going to do it. I told him I wanted to keep it between us and he was cool with that. It may take him a couple of days.”

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

“Two days?” That seemed like a long time given the World Wide Web.

67

“It isn’t like we have a name. He has a lot of plans with your cousin that he didn’t want to break for me. I wasn’t about to make is sound like a big deal. He hypothesized that he may have to hack into the DMV computers. What are you going to do if he shows up again? I think you should play like you can’t stop it.” “One day is fine but there are college recruiters there.” “I can show up again and scare him off before he starts anything.” Eric offered. “Would you be able to do that for the next couple of days.” “Sure. It’ll be fun. I don’t want to lose my skills.” “You’re awful but as long as you’re helping me, I won’t complain. Thanks again.” “No problem for a future family member.” “You better be careful not to slip and make a joke like that in front of your sister.” “What will she do? Pout at me? I can take it.” The puppet master bragged.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM
 Distant Relative

68

The next day the guy was back under the trees. There and there wasn’t a need to find a new spot if he went unnoticed. The game didn’t even start when Eric walked up and talked to him until he left. Eric really did have a gift. The man drove away shortly after without another attempt to try Greg’s skills. The last day of camp Greg was sure it would be a non-issue. Eric headed off in the same direction knowing he was going to scare off the man as he had the two previous days. Greg stepped to hit and everything went black. He stepped back before his first pitch. He wasn’t sure if he should deflect it or play like it was still working. It cleared up and he resumed his position. Eric must have not been able to distract the man enough. Did it stop because the man was talking to Eric or had Eric hindered the man unable to shoo him away? Keep playing. He heard Eric’s thoughts as he ran the bases. When you get to the dugout, send a coach this way? That didn’t settle well with Greg. He wanted to know what was happening. Not wanting to waste any time, Greg swung with determination and hit a homerun. As instructed he mentioned to a coach he spotted a couple of guys up to no good over by the benches. Two coaches walked over and were gone for a long while before returning. Greg felt the man leaving and Eric had moved back to his car. “You were right. There were a couple of men under the trees. I don’t know if they were dealing drugs or just loitering but they moved on.” The older coach told him. Can you ditch the little brother when you get home? Eric asked mentally. If Angela is home, no problem. Greg replied. Ian was too young to be left alone in Angela’s opinion. She had quit her waiting job and helped Andy at the furniture store. Weekends were busier so she was often home during the week. Being the last day of camp, he had a good chance she would be home to greet Ian and give him a big treat as a reward. Since he hadn’t been hurt, that she knew of, she had shifted her stance on baseball for her son. Luck was with him and as soon as he got home he excused himself to go see Eric, who waited for Greg in his front yard. Greg handed Eric the picture. “The boy could be him.”

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


69

“That looks like him. The car belongs to a man named Tyler Jones and he has a modest record of petty theft and drugs.” “Brian is a genius.” “Smarter than you think. He started looking into his history and found how he was related to you.” Eric confessed. Greg shifted nervously on his feet. “Relax, he won’t tell Kate.” He’d like to believe that was enough. Unfortunately with their family but he knew better. “What about Matt? Does he know anything?” Greg asked without thinking. Matt and Eric practically shared a brain. “After today, yes.” “What happened?” “I went to go talk to him and he blocked out my senses. I had no reason to play it up so I thwarted it off and he didn’t like that. He wanted to know why I was really there and I said to keep unwelcome people away. He stood up ready to fight all the while blocking you out. That was when I asked you to send over a coach. I held him back with telekinesis knowing he was going to make a move. When the coaches were close enough I released him mentally, provoked the desired aggression and he pounced. The old coach said they didn’t allow drug deals in that park and sent us both away. He has some real street smarts.” Eric said sarcastically. “I can’t keep that much blocked from Matt.” Matt and Eric had an eerie connection because they were twins and it was a wonder that Matt didn’t know earlier. “Was he mad?” “What for? Nothing you haven’t done for us.” Eric didn’t even think of it as an imposition. For all his little flaws, and he had a litany that was never ending, his virtues were grand and helping a friend was just what he did. And it was true. Greg had helped Eric’s family when they had their own predator to worry about. “What do you think he wants?” “It isn’t legal whatever it is.” “You should’ve thrown him against the tree. It would’ve scared Tyler off for good.” “He started thinking I could help him. I didn’t want him to know how much I can really do in case things get messy. Better to keep things unknown. Play opossum.” The man was Yoda. He was a

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

little green muppet who walked with a limp and a cane but he kicked Count Dooku’s butt in a lightsaber fight. “What should we do?” “We reconvene with the parents and tell what’s been going on.” “We don’t even know what he wants.”

70

“Your dad needs to know about this.” Eric sounded more like an adult than the overgrown kid he was. The pointed finger only accentuated the imagery. “Let’s start with you guys. Are Matt and Brian home?” “Come on in.” Eric walked him up to Brian’s room. He was still on the computer trying to find information on Tyler. “Hey Greg. Looks like you have some trouble.” Brian said casually. He had the best temper in the family although there were times his blood boiled like any of them. “I never considered I would be on this end of trouble.” Matt walked in probably cued from Eric. “So, what’s the plan?” “We wait for him to approach again. He wants something and he’ll want to see you in person.” Eric suggested against his better judgment. Matt would know it wasn’t his first choice and he was speaking for Greg. “And what about telling the rest?” Brian wanted the parents in the know as well. Their father Ron was especially powerful with telekinesis and Kate was the most skilled of the lot. “Let’s see what we’re dealing with. I would rather get rid of this without involving Katie.” Greg figured it was an even match, him against Tyler, if he didn’t have the edge with more skills. With the twins and Brian, Tyler didn’t have a chance. Calling in the reserves, like Ron and Kate was like calling in the army to catch a shoplifter. He had time to better gage the trouble level before resorting to the full inner circle. “So we wait for him to contact me?” “If you sense him coming, let us know immediately.” Eric was vexed and that gave Greg an eerie chill.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

Keeping Secrets

71

Greg was anxious waiting for Tyler’s approach. Being with Kate was hard. He worried how he would handle it if Tyler came near when she was with him. To make matters worse Kate often asked what was wrong and he was running out of excuses. It added to the distance between them but he didn’t want her to needlessly fret if it turned out to be nothing. He was even less willing to have her involved if it turned out to be something dangerous. His spidey senses were on high alert that danger was coming. Jim’s Labor Day weekend barbeque was very different that year. Greg wasn’t battling Eric for Kate’s attention. On the contrary she was socializing with Meg as the boys stuck together. Brian and Dave were excited to start college. They were rooming in the dorms together and had plans to take over Matt and Eric’s off campus condo when the twins graduated that year. While Ian and Dave played a game of pool the three Thomas brothers questioned Greg to see if he had run into Tyler. “Haven’t seen a sign of him.” Greg updated. “Perhaps he got the message.” Matt was hopeful. “I doubt it.” Eric wasn’t as optimistic. He had gleaned some of Tyler’s plans and Greg was someone that Tyler needed. “Then we start to keep tabs on them again.” Matt meant Kate and Greg. His protective monster worried that if Greg was targeted, Kate could get caught in the middle. “And we need to tell more people.” He didn’t like having a subgroup. Tyler would rear his ugly head again and Matt meant to have the odds well in their favor. “We can wait until he makes one more move. He’ll need to talk to Greg before he tries anything rash.” Eric was being generous on Greg’s request. “After that we tell your dad and ours if no one else.” He glanced over at Jim and Kate who were working the grill on the patio. He wanted to include Kate. No. He wanted Kate to be aware but not included. It still killed him to keep something so important from her. He would since there was no guarantee she wouldn’t demand to be part of the crew. And she would. “Fair enough.” Matt said. “One more move.” He emphasized so that Greg understood it would be taken out of his hands if things got stickier.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

Greg couldn’t argue and part of him agreed. He hated keeping things from Kate as well. Kate walked in smiling. Ignorance was bliss. “What’s that silly grin for?” Eric asked. “Happy to see all my favorite men getting along.” It had been a year since Greg and Eric first

72

butted heads. They both had come a long way to be friends. Greg despised Eric’s control over her and Eric was a protective jerk when he wasn’t in full asshole mode. Eric glared at Greg. He wanted to tell Kate to be careful probably disguised as a lie so she wouldn’t have the delusion to help out with Tyler. “Stop kidding around.” She scolded Eric thinking his glare was just a feigned threat. “Who’s the broad?” Matt asked pointing to a lady he hadn’t met. Kate’s smile vanished. “That’s Holly. She’s a new marketing manager at Jim’s office.” Greg inspected the new comer. She was pretty enough and over dressed for a barbeque. She wore casual work clothes while everyone else was in jeans or shorts. She was about Kate’s height, five nine, with dirty blond hair and light brown eyes. “And is she evil or something?” Matt sensed Kate’s disapproval. Eric had an odd expression as he looked at his sister. Did he think she was as protective as him? If he did, it would please him until he tried to date someone and he was the victim. “Well, she’s interested in Jim. That’s for sure. And I don’t like it. She’s hiding something.” They all got a little tense from their own guilt when she said that but Kate was too distracted to notice. “I can’t tell what but I think it is a defensive skill, something I can’t recognize.” “What do you mean?” Brian wondered. “Well, Father Francis was showing me how to detect other people’s gifts and he classifies them into defense, offense and communication. Most can be used in more than one way like telekinesis that you use to torment or protect. Still it’s more offense than defense. She has something new. Something I haven’t seen yet. Makes it harder to diagnose.” “You are the master hub of all the skills, Kate.” Matt admired her. Kate had such a strong sense of empathy she picked up every skill although some weren’t as easy for her as others.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

“Just because she has a skill doesn’t make her evil.” Eric said. “She isn’t going to admit to something like that straight up. You wouldn’t.” He tested her resignation to be possessive of Jim. “That’s fine coming from you.” Kate remembered how he was unwilling to allow anyone into their inner circle and there he stood ready to open his arms up to anyone.

73

“Chill out Kate.” Eric didn’t like that she was so critical so quickly. It was humorous considering she learned her distrust from him. Kate huffed. “Gran may have had a hand in her sudden appearance. She applied for a job that wasn’t even created.” “Grandpa said he put a stop to her and she hasn’t done anything in months.” Matt tried to convince himself as much as Kate. “I don’t know.” Brian was concerned. “I’d keep an eye on her. Gran may be playing nice in front of him. In my opinion, she’ll try again.” All his siblings stiffened. For some reason, they believed Brian to be the most intuitive and weighted his omens heavily. “Not saying this Holly chick is bad but…” “We need to find out what she does.” Eric was curious and Brian’s words unsettled him. “Is the priest coming?” He knew Father Francis’ name. Eric liked him a lot and only referred to him as the priest because he was the only priest he deemed worthy. “He couldn’t make it.” Kate would have liked Father Francis to attend. He was the originator of that talent and could make a precise identification on Holly’s hidden talent. “Have you told Jim?” Greg asked. “Not yet. I told Ellen and she’s keeping an eye on her.” Ellen was Jim’s mother who worked as the receptionist at his office. Just what Greg didn’t need, another thing to worry about on top of Tyler. He noticed Zuzu, Kate’s watch cat, was atypically not following Kate around and stayed near Holly. “Did you sic Zuzu on her?” “Yes I did.” The boys laughed. If Zuzu saw something odd she would let Kate know. Talking to animals was a gift direct from Ellen, as was Zuzu herself. To express her displeasure in their lack of Zuzu faith, Kate stuck her tongue at all her brothers and Greg to boot.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


74

Greg stayed behind after the party cleared out to help pick up. Ian, of course, did the same. Greg liked him but he was being shadowed. After things were in order, put away and the washer was running Ian finally went home without Greg. Jim left Greg and Kate watching TV to retire early. He had more than a few beers over the day and needed to sleep it off. “Hey, look at that. We’re alone.” Greg joked. Kate leaned back into his arms. “Nice isn’t it.” “I could get use to it.” He wrapped himself around her. “Are you glad that school is starting?” “Mostly. Advance placement English and history scare me.” “You didn’t have to take every class Father Francis offered us.” “He said he would put us into the same classes. I didn’t want to pass that up.” “I’ll help you. It’s going to be a tough year but we’re seniors now.” “That’ll be nice. And no Stacey makes it better.” Stacey, who was Kate’s nemesis, had graduated in June. “That is beneficial. On the other hand, there will be no Dave or Brian.” “Or Claire.” Claire was a senior that had befriend Kate and Meg in the second half of the year. “We’ll make new friends. Apparently I’ll have to be nice to freshmen.” Greg hung his head in acceptance. He would have to keep a moderate eye out for Ian to make sure he was fitting in at St. Iggy’s. At least until he got comfortable. “Ian is great. He idolizes you.” “I’m hoping that passes. It’s a lot of responsibility.” “You’re a great big brother.” She turned her head to kiss him. “Not as good as mine but you just got started.” “Those are big shoes to fill.” Kate started dozing off and Greg took that as his cue to leave. He walked in to find Andy and Angela in the same position he had been in with Kate only minutes before. “Hey.” He said hurrying up the stairs.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM
 Seniors At Last
Tuesday school was already bustling with activity and they still had fifteen minutes until

75

assembly. Meg, Kate and Greg found Brad and got seats in the back. Father Francis stood up for his start of school pep speech. Nothing was new except that they were combining forces with Santa Katrina High for a joint school play. It was something called the Pirates of Penzance. Greg didn’t know it but Kate was thrilled at the news. “It’s a musical. You’ll love it.” She promised him. “Musical?” Greg wouldn’t love it. He figured Kate’s excitement meant she would audition for it. She had planned to join the tennis team and both would be a lot in addition to a full class schedule. Their first class was AP English and as promised the four friends were on the same schedule for the first semester and most of the second. Their teacher was the librarian-esque Miss Carter. English was on the top floor of the converted mansion and the room was carpeted with only comfortable sitting chairs. She was talking about the musical as well. She was co-directing with the drama teacher from Santa Katrina. After encouraging them all to try out regardless of singing abilities she went over the syllabus for the year in the last five minutes of class. Their second class was AP History. Kate was horrible at history, worse than her English. She had really improved her grades after Greg tutored her. She did more for his math score than he did for her history. Part credit went to the group but Kate was just that good at math and teaching. Father Francis was the history teacher and the class was on the bottom floor where the rooms were more typical of schools with desks and chairs. He had changed the arrangement from the standard u-shape to four rows, two on each side facing each other where Father Francis would pace up and down the middle and walk them through modern history. Third period was AP Calculus. Mr. Sanchez, Kate’s grandfather, was taking over the math courses. Mr. Stewart, who taught them math the year before, had a horrible communication problem with the students. Greg wondered what he was teaching since he was at the assembly. The class had shrunk a bit from the Math IV students the year prior. Mr. Stewart turned off many students from continuing and there was only a three-year requirement for math.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


76

They climbed to the third floor again for fourth period Existentialism. Up and down all day long. Philosophy had grown so popular they added Existentialism to the curriculum. Sister Rene taught both. She was a great teacher that really encouraged the students to reason things through. Greg learned more about critical thinking from her than he had in any other class. He was glad they added Existentialism. It was in lieu of typical religion courses and after eight years of elementary school and the first two years at St. Iggy’s, Greg didn’t think there was anymore he could soak up about Catholicism or the Bible. At lunch the girls were all about the musical. “I’m going to try out.” Meg announced. “Me too.” Kate confirmed his fears. “What’s this play about?” Brad asked. “Are there any extra roles?” Greg’s jaw dropped. “Et tu, Brute?” “Hey, if the ladies are this excited about it, I’m going to get involved.” Brad had promised his father that he would not date anyone seriously. To offset his exclusion he flirted shamelessly with all the girls. Greg rolled his eyes. “You’re going to audition too, aren’t you?” Kate tried to get Greg interested. “There are tons of extra rolls. There are pirates and cops for the guys and like twelve sisters for the girls. There are only five main roles. The Pirate King is the lead for sure. He is the most interesting and is in the most scenes.” Kate really knew her pirates. “And then there are two women roles, Mabel and Ruth. And two more male parts.” Brad snickered at her terminology. Kate only glanced at him for his juvenile behavior before continuing, “the Major General and Frederic. Oh, and there’s a lead cop role. It’s my favorite musical. Mom took us to it when I was eight.” Greg would get roped into helping out. Hell – Kate barely turned her statement of his participation to a question as an afterthought. He couldn’t sing to save his life but maybe he could do crew work. In grade school he had been in class choir productions but he hadn’t done any singing since. Perhaps he could make an earnest attempt at an audition and when he was declined a part he could resign himself to enthusiastic audience support. The other classes were filing out for their lunches. Ian got food with another freshman. Greg was glad he was making friends and gladder that he didn’t have to babysit him. Watching out for him wasn’t

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

going to be a full time job. Ian waved at Greg and sat with his own grade. Greg did a flyby to see how things were going. Ian beamed and his freshmen friends were impressed that a senior spoke to them. After lunch they had Photography. It was a new teacher to the school named Mrs. Hoyle. She

77

was a large woman with two tone hair and fifties style glasses. The class was in the art area in the middle floor past the main entrance and old kitchen. They would use digital and 35mm cameras preferably with manual controls. If they didn’t have one available at home, the school had a few they could borrow for the class. Kate told Greg that Jim had an old photo lab in the house. That would come in handy. Their last class was up at the science lab, which was up the drive from the school in the converted garage. It was AP Chemistry and the room had several islands used for various lab lessons. Greg was despondent to see Mr. Stewart waiting for them. It was never going to be an easy class but he actually considered changing at the sight of the horrible teacher. Brad’s father was a doctor and he needed the class to go pre-med in college. He convinced Greg to stay. They planned to have a study group weekly to make it through. Kate wouldn’t be the leader. Her strengths were math and physics. They would have to co-lead and Gerard, Mr. Sanchez and Kate’s grandfather, would help if they got in over their heads. All was pretty typical for a first day of school. Greg got out the books he would need for homework from his locker when he felt Tyler’s presence. Eric, Matt and Brian were in Santa Barbara and too far to help him out or even send a telepathic message. He drove Ian, Meg and Kate home. Tyler was outside the school in his truck most likely thinking he went undetected and didn’t follow as they drove by. Greg was quiet but kept his reactions to himself. He had to block Kate from empathizing with him and picking up his true emotions. A move that would undoubtedly alert her, if she noticed. There was little chance that she wouldn’t. Kate wanted to talk as they rode home but she couldn’t with Meg and Ian in the car. Ian was gabbing a mile a minute so even a mental discussion wouldn’t work. Greg was only buying time. After he was asleep he found himself walking into Kate’s room. It was mist filled as always when she pulled him into a dream. He could’ve stayed out of her dream but he needed to ease her concerns and not build on them. “Hi.” He greeted when he saw her.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

“Sorry I didn’t ask first.”

78

“You don’t have to.” He sat on the bed next to her. She was hiding behind a curtain of hair. He brushed it back and leaned in to kiss her. “I didn’t bring you in for that.” She pulled away. “I know. Nothing’s wrong. I’m just nervous about all the school work.” “It’s going to be a tough year. If I get in the play, I’m not going to join the tennis team.” “My recommendation is tennis over the play but it’s your call.” Kate paused. “Why have you’ve been distant.” “Let’s not start that again.” He held her hand to comfort her. She shook her head. “You’re keeping me out of things. It isn’t blatant but you’re guarded around me. You blocked me out on the way home.” It was true. He had to keep her from worrying too much. “Give me some time.” “You can tell me anything.” “Katie, I know that.” He hugged her. “I need to figure some things out.” “Maybe it is too much too soon.” She wiped away a stray tear. “We have no boundaries. Normal teen couples aren’t like us.” Greg tensed up. He never knew what to do when she cried. “You sound like Angela. Are you telling me that you would never have a situation where you wouldn’t let me know what was going on?” “I wouldn’t have told you about Gran if you didn’t figure it out on your own and that’s what scares me.” She got dangerously close to the truth. “You’re over thinking this. Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill.” She didn’t believe him but she nodded. “I feel like I’m losing you.” “I’m right here.” He squeezed her hand harder. “It isn’t just that you are keeping me out, it’s the rejection.” There was too much happening around Greg for him to manage both his relationship and his problems. Unable to keep his cool, he snapped. “Rejection? We aren’t going to keep talking about sex.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

Eventually you’ll find me at a weak moment and we’ll do something we’ll regret in the morning. Blame my antiquated religious beliefs but don’t think it isn’t that I don’t have the same desires as you.”

79

She shrugged. It was only an issue because he wasn’t the aggressor. If the tables were reversed, she would want to take it slow. At least he believed that. “I’ll see you in the morning.” He kissed her. “I love you.” She nodded and released him. The next day Kate stayed clear. Their talk hadn’t helped and only brought to light something they both felt. Even Brad noticed and he wasn’t the most observant guy when it came to people’s feelings. That night he found himself walking into a misty room but it was one he didn’t know. Eric sat impatiently on a couch. “You hadn’t seen our Santa Barbara pad yet, have you?” “No, it’s nice.” Their dad took good care of them. “So what’s the occasion?” “Well, first, why couldn’t I get you last night?” “Kate pulled me in first.” Eric gave him a harsh look. “It wasn’t like that. I wish it were and gladly take your beating for it. She wanted to talk.” “Good girl.” Eric laughed. Greg was tempted to tell him how Kate put pressure to escalate things but it wasn’t worth it. “Brian found out more information about Tyler and his family. Margo’s parents had Tyler and Deborah much later. Deborah was the youngest and their mother didn’t live long after she was born. The father died early too. It looks like Margo was saddled with raising them.” Perhaps that was why she left. It couldn’t be the only reason. Andy would have taken her younger siblings in without hesitation. “This doesn’t help us know what he wants but it is good to know.” Eric admitted. Greg nodded. “Thanks. And tell Brian thanks.” “You can thank me by fixing things with Kate. I’ll spill the beans if she gets any more upset.” “By the way, Tyler was by the school yesterday.” Eric jumped up. “What did he do?” “Nothing. He didn’t even follow me home.”

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

“That’s too close.” Eric meant to Kate. “He’ll want to get me alone if he wants to talk.” Eric agreed and the dream ended. The next day during lunch, Greg ran an off campus errand. Only seniors had that privilege. He got flowers and put them in Kate’s room for when she got home. He was back to school in time for photography.

80

It wasn’t long after he was home that she called gushing about how wonderful they were and how it was a sweet gesture. He bought himself more time. He hoped it would be enough to solve the mystery.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

Out of the Wood Work

81

The football season started first Friday of school and they played Santa Katrina High as always for the opener. St. Iggy’s team was in a lower league and they only focused on beating the spread. Brad was the first-string quarterback after the last one had graduated and he was determined. Kate wanted to go over to the Santa Katrina stands and say hi to Chris but she didn’t. Things were tense and there was no need to worry about petty social obligations when they would only add unneeded stress. Unfortunately Chris had no reason to not venture to the St. Iggy’s stands and he found them during half time. “Brad is doing great.” He told them. The score was tied. “We’ll still win.” “I don’t know. Brad is playing with a singular focus.” Greg was pleased. Brad could put is mind to anything and accomplish it in enough time. He didn’t know if four quarters were long enough but it was an excellent sign that the score was tied at the midpoint. “He isn’t going to let it be easy.” Chris smiled sure of his school’s imminent win. “Are you coming to Auggie’s party?” Auggie was the usual party host for Santa Katrina High School. “We’ll let Brad make the call.” Greg figured it was his game to celebrate or rue as he wished. “Kate, are you going to play tennis this year?” Chris wanted her to expand on her success from the prior year. “You’re their best player.” “Not if I get in the play. Both may be too much.” She blushed at his attention. Greg tried not to notice but he had. So he tried not to let it bother him but it did. “You can do both. It’s your last year of high school. Have fun.” He winked at her. “I better get back before I get heat for being over here.” Greg didn’t want to go to the Santa Katrina party. Kate and Meg did. Brad would want to go if they won but not if they lost. Greg was tempted to root for Santa Katrina. That would be absolute blasphemy so he didn’t. He was a loyal slave to duty. The teams fought harder the second half and neither scored until the last minute when St. Iggy’s made a touchdown. Santa Katrina didn’t have time to recover and St. Iggy’s accomplished an upset win.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

The stands were euphoric. The parents and students started clearing out when Greg sensed Tyler’s presence. “Shit.” “What’s wrong?” Meg asked. Kate hadn’t heard.

82

“Nothing.” He whipped out his cell and texted Eric a quick message when they weren’t looking. “On our way.” He received back. Greg really needed to hone his telepathy. It was faster than texting. “Why don’t you girls go to the party? I’ll wait for Brad. He’ll give me a ride.” Greg spoke before he looked up from his cell phone. When he did, he saw that Kate had a puzzled look. Greg never gave her time with Chris willingly. “We can wait.” Kate wanted to stay with him. “We’ll be right behind you.” Greg kissed her cheek. “Make sure Chris knows I’ll be there.” He covered for both his jealousy and her doubts. “Come on Kate.” Meg didn’t care to wait. The bleachers were empty and there were few people left. They were under the stands by the closed concession stands. Kate finally followed Meg to the car. Greg was relieved. He tried to pin point Tyler’s position. He didn’t have to wait long. Tyler walked down from the stands. “At last we meet.” “Uncle Ty.” “You’ve learned who I am. That guy was your friend, the one from the park. I should’ve realized he was the first day. He isn’t here now.” He didn’t seem convinced. He kept heedful to the surroundings. “Greg, I need the keys.” Meg returned without Kate. A woman, who Greg guessed was Deborah jumped out. She grabbed Meg from behind holding her arms down as she struggled to get free. “Is this your girlfriend?” Without warning Deborah’s arms opened and she flew back landing on her rear five yards from Meg. “No, I am!” Kate had seen the trouble. She grabbed Meg and moved to stand with Greg. She was fierce with anger. There was too much history with the Thomases for her to be docile in hostile company. “This town has always been a magnet for people like us.” Deborah stood up and dusted off her jeans. She wasn’t mad. On the contrary, she eyed Kate approvingly.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


83

Tyler smiled maliciously. “Did I forget to mention I wasn’t alone?” Two guys came down from the stands and stood behind them while Tyler and Deborah stood in front. They were surrounded. “Tyler, something’s wrong.” Deborah said. She must have been trying to black out someone’s senses without success. Kate was not allowing any of it but she couldn’t be selective. It was either no one could do anything or she could only block one person. Blocking one would take Kate out of the equation as well. Even if Greg took another that still left two to cause mayhem and Meg wasn’t able to do any tricks that would help in a bout. “It’s her.” He pointed at Kate. “She’s the only one concentrating.” He opened his jacket and showed that he had a gun on him. “It won’t be a problem.” Tyler gave a nod to the taller goon behind Greg and he moved up to grab Greg’s arm. Greg pulled free and hit him hard enough to knock him down. Kate released her universal jam. Both sides had some talents and she hoped theirs were stronger. She pulled Meg behind her. Meg assured her she could keep herself protected. “Get her!” Deborah ordered and the other thug lunged at Kate. She dodged him easily. Greg went to safeguard Kate but the one on the floor grabbed his ankle and he fell to the ground. He had fortified himself with telekinesis making impact negligible. They wrestled. Greg blocked out his senses but it didn’t stop his attacker much. It wasn’t the first time he had to tussle without sight or sound. The other guy circled Kate and made another leap and missed. Seeing that Kate was moving too quickly Deborah commented, “How many tricks do you know?” She blacked out Kate. It only lasted a second but their friend had Kate in his hold. Out of nowhere Brad pulled him off and knocked him to the floor. Brad shook his head like he was getting blacked out but it didn’t last. The groups separated. “We have family business to discuss with Greg.” Deborah was sugary sweet. “Family’s allowed.” Kate had the patented Thomas family grin that reminded Greg of the twins. It could mean only one thing.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


84

“You’re welcome to join the discussion. I’m impressed with your multi-tasking. Maybe she can be of use.” Deborah glanced at Tyler. “She isn’t going anywhere with you.” Eric marched up from the right. “I expected you might show.” Tyler remarked. He was pleased. He wanted to see Eric again. “And were you expecting us?” Matt was coming up fast on the other side with Brian at his side. Tyler did a double take to see Eric’s identical twin. “Greg is our nephew.” Deborah said instinctively backing away from Eric who was ready to fight if they didn’t leave. “We really don’t care.” Eric laughed fiendishly. It was seven to four and Tyler’s group was at a disadvantage. “Later.” “No. Whatever you want the answer is no.” Greg growled. His mouth was bleeding from his brief brawl with the taller goon. “We’ll be in touch.” Tyler promised. They walked down the fence to the exit as Father Francis passed them hurrying to the kids. The priest watched Tyler and his crew leave. “You guys really do get yourself into predicaments quite frequently.” He smiled at the familiar faces glad that everyone was safe. “Is someone going to tell me what’s going on?” Brad asked. Greg hung his head down wondering how Brad had shirked off the blackness. “You have a thing or two to explain as well. How did you shake that off?” “What? That darkness? I don’t know. What was it anyway?” “It isn’t exactly a fully developed gift but Brad has a strong sense of clarity of mind. It makes some skills less effective.” Father Francis explained. “Huh?” Brad was more lost. It was absolutely true. Brad wasn’t simple but he was singularly minded. When he played he only thought about the game. When he was at school he was all about grades. His focus was very compartmentalized. “Let’s get out of here.” Meg suggested from within Brian’s arms.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

“We’ll go to my house. My parents are gone.” Brad’s parents were always out of town. It was convenient for all his party hosting although it wasn’t needed. They drove to the modern glass house in the hills. Father Francis joined them as well.

85

They gathered in Brad’s living room. Seeing Eric and Matt in Brad’s house seemed out of place like they were intruding into Greg’s world. Greg groaned realizing he had to let Kate in on his plans and Brad would learn about their paranormal skills. Both were things he wasn’t eager to do. “That guy is my biological mother’s brother. I don’t know them at all but they are related to me by blood which means they know how to block out senses.” Everyone but Brad understood. “Oh, that explains nothing.” “Brad,” Father Francis voice carried its usual tone of serenity, “there are some people that have some skills that just don’t follow with the natural order of things.” He started pointing out the people in the room and describing their gifts. Matt and Eric were too eager to be examples as they lifted things without touching them and then moved at inhuman speeds. “Okay. And no one thought to tell me this?” “There seems to be an instinct to keep these things private.” Father Francis added. “We trust that you will not share this information. There are places that have more than their share of gifted people. Santa Katrina is one. That girl was right.” “When did you get there?” Greg wondered. “I saw things getting heated and I went to get security but there was no need. The Thomas boys were there. They’re better than security even if those people weren’t skilled.” Greg was relieved to know that things couldn’t have gone too far if security would have been notified. The priest was right. The Thomas brothers were a better force in their favor. “You’re not like any priest I have ever heard about.” Eric liked him. “Don’t peg any group of people. We’re all different.” Father Francis like Eric despite his insolence. Or was it because of his insolence.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


86

“So now your uncle wants you for something?” Kate was glad the secret was revealed. She had done the math to realize it was the reason for the rift between her and Greg. “And how long have you known?” She glared at her brothers. In Kate’s opinion she should have known before they did. “I wasn’t the one that wanted to keep you out of it. I’ve learned my lesson that you are not to be protected.” Eric mixed a truth and lie. “Learned your lesson?” Greg sassed. He turned to Kate. “He’s learned nothing of the sort. But I’m to blame. They kept it from you at my request. I hated it but I wanted you to be safe. You can be mad at me.” She debated how, who and how long to be mad. “You were suppose to be my hacksaw not another shackle.” “What do you think they want you for?” Meg asked before it turned into a lover’s tiff. “It doesn’t matter.” Greg shifted in his seat loathing the mystery. “Father Francis,” Kate asked, “what could the others do?” “Two of them are telekinetic like your brothers but not nearly as good. And that girl and guy can black out senses like Greg.” Their head master informed. “I bet they have some gang of special talents. I’ve heard about one in Santa Monica. I wonder if they are part of that.” “A gang?” Brad understood that better than the rest of the craziness. “Not everyone who has these gifts uses ethical guidelines in how they use them. Remember Stacey? She used hers to cheat at tennis.” Father Francis commented. “Stacey had something?” Brad felt lost without a compass or a map. “She had super speed.” Kate said. “Like you?” Greg laughed the hardest among those that got it. “Katie can learn gifts from people. She kind of lifted that one without permission.” “Classic.” Brad was impressed. “People that use their gifts without restraint tend to lose themselves to the talent. That’s why Stacey went ballistic when you stopped her from winning tennis with it.” Father Francis recalled the infamous upset when Kate broke Stacey’s unbeatable tennis record.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


87

Greg remembered too well Kate’s fat lip after Stacey hit her because she lost her first tennis match in over two years. At the time he only had his natural talents, both rather innocuous but since he had learned telekinesis he understood the intoxication of power. “I could see that.” Eric confessed. “Sometimes when Kate stopped me I would get really irked. I kept it in check because she’s my sister but it’s frustrating to not be able to work your magic. The impotence is maddening.” “You went off on me pretty good when I stopped you from cheating at pool with Greg.” Kate remarked. Apparently she hadn’t reached the end of her anger and her brothers were not relieved of blame. “He was a cheeky bastard.” Eric hadn’t used that term since long before Greg dated Kate. “Kids.” Father Francis cautioned. “It looks like you have a new problem and this time you may be out numbered and facing new challenges.” “So we realign and get the parents involved.” Matt stated. “Parents?” That didn’t sound right. Brad wasn’t sure Father Francis should be there. Actually he considered it a bad idea. “They got their skills from their parents.” Father Francis assured him. “There may be some other people that can help you.” He had their undivided attention. “A couple of alums have been working in a counter gang movement.” “A gang’s a gang.” Brad said. “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” The priest quoted The Road Less Traveled. “See and I would expect a Bible verse.” Eric joked. “Would you like that instead?” “Frost is good.” “You’ll like the alum. They’re twins but not identical.” “Well, that hardly counts.” Matt said with an arrogant air. “Let’s talk to them first. Before telling our parents.” Greg liked that better than getting the families involved.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


88

“If these fiends are from the Santa Monica gang, they are familiar with some of them. I’ll arrange a meeting.” Father Francis promised.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

Auditions

89

Chris called Greg the next day to ask why they skipped the party. Greg blamed the twins. It was easy and credible. Their second class on Monday was with Father Francis. He confirmed that he got a hold of his friends and wanted to know how Friday after school worked. It was perfect for Kate’s brothers who would have to travel up from Santa Barbara. They were only thirty minutes away but it was easier at the end of the week when they could stay at their parents’ house afterwards. Greg and his friends walked down the hall when Jeff of all people was picking on Ian. “Watch where you’re going frosh.” Jeff was the top student, or he was until his math grade from the year before. Jeff’s friend Sam was with him. Brad and Greg were immediately on the situation. “Hey, that’s my brother.” Greg snapped. Jeff jumped back. Greg had hit him before when he got fresh with Kate. Jeff hadn’t forgotten the pain and it didn’t take a genius to see that Greg was better prepared for a brawl. “He bumped into me. I just don’t want it to happen again.” “If it happens, it happens.” Brad backed Greg up. He was physically more intimidating – all muscle mass. Jeff and Sam scooted off tails between their legs. “Thanks.” Ian relaxed. He was preparing to be the object of some high jinks. “You let me know if anyone gives you a hard time.” Greg ordered. “No one has. That was the first.” “Good.” Kate gave him a kiss on the cheek. “Such a good big brother.” Tryouts for the play were that week. They were held at Santa Katrina High because they had a bigger auditorium where the final production would be performed. The four friends had appointments on Wednesday. Greg was going with the flow but expected he would end up working behind the scenes unless he could finagle his way out completely. The students were asked to be ready to read lines from the play and sing a song of their choosing. Greg opted to sing Happy Birthday but his friends wouldn’t allow it.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


90

His dad and Angela tried to help him find a better selection. Angela was a big country fan and she played him several Randy Travis songs that were within his skills. It was nice to see her easygoing side again. Andy wanted his say as well and offered up songs from his youth pulling out old CDs of Talking Heads, the Kinks, the Beatles, Oingo Boingo and the Police. It was too much for Greg as they played snippets from several songs. In the end Angela pulled out the best idea and handed him a copy of a Gene Kelley album that had Singing in the Rain on it. He had heard it enough and it was from a musical. Greg felt like an idiot as he played it over and over again learning the lines and singing along. He burned a copy of the backup music to take with him for the audition. Wednesday lunch they discussed their choices. Brad had a silly song that sounded like an old Scottish ditty. The name was The Scotsman and it told the story of a man getting drunk and passing out on his way home from a pub. Two ladies happen along and check to see if Scotsmen really didn’t wear anything under their kilts. They decide to leave a blue ribbon as a gift on his manhood before walking off. When the drunk wakes to nature’s call he sees the ribbon and says, “Lad, I don’t know where you’ve been but I see you won first prize.” Greg loved it. It wasn’t only a funny song but Brad could sing it a cappella. Kate and Meg were sure it was inappropriate. That only made Brad more resolute to sing it. He may follow the women but he didn’t obey. Meg had picked a song from Mamma Mia called Take a Chance on Me. She thought it was a new until Brad informed her it was an old song from the seventies. Kate told her that was good because it was a classic that kept coming back. Kate’s song wasn’t much younger than Meg’s. She selected the Rainbow Connection. Brad busted out in laughter. Greg knew it was a Muppet song from the movie but didn’t recall much about it. She had the lyrics with her and he read them over. It was a great song for her, sweet and sanguine. “It’s better than your barroom limerick.” Kate said defensively. “I don’t think so, Kermit.” Brad smirked. “It was my favorite movie when I was a kid.” “I like it.” Greg said as a word of warning to Brad.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

“You like everything she does.” Kate stuck her tongue at Brad.

91

Lindsay had gone to auditions on Monday and told them it was all very comfortable. By the end of school, Greg’s stomach was in knots. He didn’t want to sing and he wasn’t expecting to get a part. He wanted to put in an effort for support. By the afternoon it started to feel like pressure, peer pressure. They had early times, all four in a row and Brad drove them to Santa Katrina High School. All the buildings on Santa Katrina’s campus looked alike, square with brick walls. They followed signs to the auditorium and Sister Regina, a teacher from St. Iggy’s, welcomed the students as she registered the potential candidates. She was the music teacher and would be the musical director for the production. Greg could never tell a nuns age. They all either looked in their thirties or eighties. Sister Regina was a rare exception in between. She was a frail woman but she could bark a class back into order. It must be one of the things they taught at nun school along with praying for hours and how to put on the habit. She did break from the other nuns at school by wearing sneakers. You couldn’t see them under her robe unless she moved fast enough that her hem rose above her ankles. It was especially comical when she played tennis and she was pretty good despite her frumpy attire. Kate was first up and Greg noticed that she was terrified for the first time. It was so strange that she took the mugging with more courage. When she returned, her anxieties were gone – the worst behind her. While Meg was taking her turn Kate told Greg and Brad it was weird because the large room was vacant except for three teachers. One from Santa Katrina had showed her some dance steps and asked her to copy. They weren’t hard. Greg wrapped an arm around his waist feeling butterflies in his stomach. He hadn’t anticipated on an impromptu dance quiz. Meg returned with a pleased expression. Ever since she was small she had a good ear for music and could pick up a tune faster than anyone in the family. Apparently it went well for her but then not only could she sing, she had taken dance when she was younger. The fact she could hear with super clarity probably promoted her natural talent.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


92

Greg was last as they waited for Brad. The girls were giddy and compared notes. He wished they would stop talking about it. Brad came out in great spirits. He claimed his song was a hit and had them all laughing. Pirates of Penzance wasn’t just an ordinary musical. It was a farcical one. Greg walked into the room. There were three teachers sitting behind a long table looking very much like a poor man’s American Idol judges. Miss Carter was the only St. Iggy’s teacher. “This is Mr. Philips the drama teacher for Santa Katrina and the head director.” She introduced. “And this is Ms. Olga the dance teacher.” Mr. Philips was a typical English teacher down to a corduroy jacket with elbow patches. He was probably about fifty give or take. Ms. Olga was in her thirties and had a lean dancers figure with her dark hair in a bun. She wore jeans and a tank top. She was attractive. “You can call me Olga. I never use my last name.” Olga allowed with a hint of an Italian accent. “Thanks.” Greg stuttered from nerves. One thing was for sure – he wasn’t going to call a teacher by her first name. “What song did you plan to sing?” Miss Carter asked. “Singing in the Rain.” Greg held up his CD but they didn’t need it. They had a computer set up with speakers and it was preloaded with many selections, his included. Greg thought he brutalized the song but he didn’t mess up once on the lyrics. After he was done Olga walked over to him. “You play baseball?” She guessed from his physique. “Shortstop.” “Good. Try this.” She pointed to Mr. Philips who queued another tune on the computer. She started dancing a simple step. Greg did his best to follow. Every time he got close to her movements she added a new twist. “Not bad.” Olga smiled as she led him into new and more complicated steps. “We’ll get out lists next week with the parts but there are other ways to contribute. We’ll need stage crews and band members. Do you play any music?” Mr. Philips inquired. “Piano but poorly. I’d be willing to help with sets.” Greg answered thinking that was a sign that they were not impressed with his audition.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

Mr. Philips made a note. Greg left glad to it was over. Brad, Meg and Kate were waiting patiently for him. “It wasn’t too bad.” He lied.

93

“Hi guys.” Chris walked up with Kevin, another Santa Katrina student. He was Stacey’s cousin and the source of her false rumor about Kate and Chris hooking up after their winter dance. “Hi.” Kate smiled too hard at Chris and completely ignored Kevin. “Kate, right?” Kevin asked. “Yes.” She only gave him a courtesy glance. “I’m Kevin.” He put his hand out but pulled it back when she didn’t move to shake it. “Didn’t you start the rumor about Kate last year?” Brad didn’t mince words and went for a full frontal assault. Kevin couldn’t have been surprised that they would know he was the connection. “I didn’t mean to. I didn’t even know about her blog until she quoted me.” Greg didn’t believe that. “Kevin’s all right.” Chris half-heartedly endorsed. “Sorry.” Kate put out her hand. “That was rude.” “It’s understandable.” Kevin shook it. And then moved to shake Meg’s. Brad paused before doing the same. Greg used extra strength in his grasp, as did Kevin. There was no love loss there. “Are you any good at this stuff?” Greg asked Chris. “I was in choir. Kevin is great. He’ll probably get the lead.” Greg really hoped that Kate wasn’t good enough to be the co-star. “What are you singing?” “Ladies Choice. It’s from Hairspray.” Chris answered. “Oh, I love that movie.” Kate and Meg gushed together. Greg’s nerves may have passed but his stomach lurched anyway. He didn’t know that song but the title was enough to sicken him. “A little birdie told me that you joined the tennis team.” Chris cocked his head and raised an eyebrow to Kate. “I did.” She smiled. It was irksome. She hadn’t mentioned the change in plans to Greg.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

“Chris Jenkins?” Sister Regina called. “Good luck.” They wished them well and headed out for the day. “Kate, I didn’t know you were joining the tennis team.” Brad hadn’t heard either. “It was a last minute decision. Coach Evans asked me during lunch yesterday and I agreed.” “That’s great.” Greg meant it but he didn’t think it was great that she hadn’t told him before he heard it from Chris of all people. Kate nervously pulled her hair behind her ear. “I was going to tell you. I just forgot with the tryouts and all.”

94

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM
 More Auditions

95

When Friday came Greg had forgotten their appointment to meet Father Francis’ friends until Kate reminded him that her brothers would meet them after their last class. School was out early as per usual for the end of the week. Her brothers waited for them outside the head master’s office with Father Francis. Greg had the same sensation of the twins slowly oozing into his personal world. They didn’t belong on campus any more than they belonged at Brad’s house. “This way.” The priest led them to St. Iggy’s auditorium, which was much smaller compared to the one where they auditioned. All the double doors along the sides were closed and the curtains over them were drawn. It gave the room a stuffy aroma and was reminiscent of their finals. The only difference was there weren’t rows of desks prepared for the testers. A young man in his early to mid twenties stood by a table set up with ten chairs. He was just under six feet and tan with golden brown hair and brown eyes. He met them halfway as they walked into the room. “Father Francis.” He gave him a mannish half hug. “Frankie will be back in few minutes.” “This is Henry.” The priest announced. “He graduated six years ago.” Everyone nodded and said hello at once. “Do you always talk in unison?” That seemed to amuse Henry. “Father Francis has told us a lot about you guys.” Like Eric and Matt, he used the plural even though his twin wasn’t in the room. “And what is it that you do?” Matt asked. “Let’s wait for Frankie.” “No need. I’m back.” In walked a female version of Henry but shorter by about five inches. “Hi, I’m Frankie.” Everyone said hi at once and she smiled. “Why couldn’t you be a girl?” Eric muttered as he hit Matt’s shoulder. They were both eyeing Frankie appreciatively. “Wait, we’ve met.” Eric said. “We may have.” Frankie gave him a sideway look. “You were at our grandmother’s funeral. Only you introduced yourself as Franchesca.” Eric had spent time socializing with some ladies. She must have been one of them.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


96

“I kind of remember that.” She blushed. “Mrs. Sanchez was our favorite teacher. We were really sad when she passed.” Kate and her brothers sadden at the mention of their grandmother who passed away. They shook it off as they shuffled into their seats. It was a tender spot for them since the brothers didn’t know her very well and Kate not at all. “She was the one that flirted with you. She was bummed when we suddenly left to get Kate.” Matt whispered to Eric as they sat down. “And now she has a second chance.” Eric lifted his eyebrows up and down. Greg overheard them and guessed it was then that they interrupted his first meeting with Kate. He hadn’t known if he would ever see Kate again. If he did he knew they were going to make things hard for him. Even at the time, he planned to see her again one way or another. She was so mystifying and beautiful. Frankie opened up a notebook. Her momentary bout of embarrassment morphed into a cold sterile clinical nature. “Okay. You two must be Eric and Matt and you’re telekinetic and telepathic. And so is Brian, that’s you.” She pointed out the people as she read. “Kate has telepathy, strong empathy, can stop other people using their gifts and can pull people into her dreams.” She peaked up at Kate impressed. “And talking to animals. Meg can hear far away and see mildly through people’s eyes. Greg can do the same but more developed and black out people’s sight and hearing. And that leaves us Brad who is somewhat immune to all this because he has a strong singular focus. Did I miss anything?” “Sort of.” Matt said. “We’ve kind of blended our gifts.” “Blended?” “Kate can learn and teach.” Eric explained. Frankie’s eyes widened in moderate but pleased surprise. “Excellent. I guess that comes from your well developed empathy?” Kate nodded. She was shy in front of new people and the clinical examination wasn’t going to warm her up faster than normal. “So what have you learned?” Frankie wanted the full scoop.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

Kate spoke slowly as she ran through the list. “I have learned telekinetic, hearing, seeing,

97

blacking out, sensing other people’s gifts, discerning if someone is telling the truth and speed. I’m rusty on reading people’s skills and lie detecting.” “Speed?” Frankie must have known Father Francis’ contribution of her two rusty talents. Speed was a new item that hadn’t been mentioned in her notes. “This girl who use to go here had it.” It was clear by Kate’s tone they weren’t close. “And she wasn’t a friend?” “She was quite antagonistic to Katie.” Greg spoke up. “So you kind of stole that trade secret?” Frankie smirked and added to her notes. “Yeah. Stealing isn’t hard if I don’t know the person, I guess. Sharing takes more trust.” “And what have you taught?” “We try to share them all but some people have easier times with some things. Like Eric and Matt are even better at speed than I am.” “It’s the type of gifts and their personalities.” She scribbled feverishly. “Okay, we’ll figure out who has what and skill levels another time. First, I want to see this speed.” Matt and Eric were at the door in seconds. “I’ve never seen that one before.” She turned to a blank sheet and wrote all their names in a circle. “How do you all relate to each other?” As they told her who was related, who was friends and who was dating she drew lines connecting the names. Henry was looking over her shoulder. It was a lopsided spider web. “Let me try.” He tore the page out and reworked the data. He held up his revised graph and in the middle was Kate’s name enclosed by her brothers and friends’. It made a perfect circle. She was the one that was connected to all of the others. “That’s right.” Eric spoke up first and Matt quickly agreed. “So you are the focal point of the team.” Frankie said to Kate. “Makes sense.” “I don’t know about that?” Kate’s attention allergy caused her face to redden. “Who are you closest too?” Henry asked taking out a highlighter. “Greg.” Eric and Matt said in unison with the same cynical tone. Henry dragged the marker over that line for emphasis. “And who is your closest brother?”

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

“We’re all close.” Kate quickly said but Matt and Brian said “Eric” as Eric said “Me.”

98

He didn’t wait for Kate to counter as he marked the line. “And the twins are obviously close.” He noted that connection. “Any other stronger bonds?” “The next strongest are all the siblings.” Matt added. “And Eric is good friends with Greg. And Meg and Brian are tight.” He took out a new color and drew over those lines. “Does that help?” Eric wondered why they needed to know how close they were. “Just a theory on how Kate shares and learns. We apply the scientific method where we observe, theorize and test.” Frankie informed the group. “We won’t add your parents and Father Francis but I assume they all tie back to Kate as well.” “Even my dad.” Greg testified. Eventually Henry drew the following graph.

Kate grimaced at being the center of the team. “You still haven’t told us what you do?” Eric wanted to know who they were dealing with. “We have telekinesis and mind reading.” Henry answered flatly. “Mind reading? Isn’t that the same as telepathy?” Eric had read some of Tyler’s thoughts even though they weren’t in a mental conversation. It was because Tyler unconsciously wanted to speak his mind. Most people did. Still he learned a lot without revealing he was telepathic. “It’s more an offensive skill rather than communicative.” Frankie explained using the same terms that Father Francis used when teaching Kate. “The skills usually fall into one of three categories; defense, offense and communication. Many can fall into two groups and a user can make a difference from one being more defensive verses offensive.”

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

“Does that matter how people use them?”

99

“There’s a psychological impact. When people start using their skills offensively they can become controlling and easily angered when they can’t manipulate things the way they want. Those who do use them offensively tend to use them often and they grow stronger. That’s just the nature of it. Practice will improve things no matter what.” “Father Francis told us that you had a situation last spring and now a new one. Can you tell us about that?” Henry wanted to know what had brought the group together. Matt updated them on Gran’s attempts to harm Kate and how they worked together to stop her from hurting anyone seriously. It was the first Brad had heard the whole story and he was as attentive as Henry and Frankie. “She shot you?” Brad blurted out at the finale. “And this new problem.” Henry probed. “My uncle wants me to help him with something. I don’t know what but I don’t think it is anything good. My mother left us when I was a kid and I hadn’t heard from her side of the family until this summer. My aunt is helping him and two friends.” Greg updated. “And what do they do?” “They can bloke out things and their two thugs seem to be telekinetic.” Father Francis updated. “Telekinesis is a common gift.” Frankie made more notes. “What are their names?” “Tyler and Deborah Jones. I don’t know the other two guys names.” Frankie and Henry looked at each other. “We have heard of them. What do they know about you guys?” “They know I can black out senses and they know Eric and Katie can do things. I guess blocking them.” Greg recalled back on the few times he had seen his distant relatives. “And telekinesis and speed.” Kate reminded him. “That isn’t good.” Frankie frowned. “Yeah, they were talking about how they could be helpful.” Brian added. “So what can you do to help us?”

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


100

“There are places where these kind of things started to congregate, like Santa Katrina. We have helped people develop their skills and use them in positive ways. Showing them how to keep them better hidden. The desire to stay off the radar is always strong with any skills. We’ve helped trap some criminals who had organized a team. Your uncle and aunt were part of that gang. They didn’t get arrested. Sounds like they’re looking to start their own group. They came to you because these things are genetically passed along and the more the merrier.” “Does it matter that I told them I am not interested?” Greg asked. “What did they offer?” Henry inquired. “I didn’t give them a chance to make an offer.” “Hmm.” Frankie didn’t give more of a response. Eric shifted uneasily in his seat. “We can help you guys organize. We can test your skills and build them up. If that goes well, we’ll show you how to work better together in a group. Some of these will be hard to build. Speed will take practice and to get any stamina you’ll need to find a place where you can’t be seen running. The more you practice the better you get with less concentration needed.” “We’ll be able to use more at once.” Greg liked the idea. It would be a good exercise to measure and hone their skills.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM
 Pop Quiz

101

“Kate, come here.” Frankie stood up and walked away from the metaphysical gathering. Kate followed and they stood about ten yards apart. “I’m going to try to shove you back but I want you to stop me. I want to see how much you can resist and for how long.” “Maybe you should start with one of us.” Eric didn’t like Kate being the guinea pig. Neither did Greg. “I want to test Kate first. We’ll test all of you next time.” Frankie dismissed his protest. “Do you want me to just stop you or everything?” Kate asked. “What do you mean?” “I can stop one person but it takes more concentration than stopping everything around me.” “Just me. Ready.” Kate nodded. They stood there for a minute. Frankie’s palms were faced out about waist height. Kate stood erect with her eyes closed. Then Kate slid backwards. “I’m losing it.” She squeaked out. “Refocus.” Frankie ordered not letting up on the pressure. Greg didn’t like that she didn’t give Kate a break but held his tongue. Kate stopped sliding and then half a minute later started to move back again. She sighed from exhaustion and fell back. Before she hit the ground Eric caught her with telekinesis and gently stood her upright. And he wasn’t happy. “Does it always weaken?” Frankie wasn’t concerned that Kate almost fell. Eric glared at her. Pretty or not, Eric didn’t like her picking on Kate. “Yes. And everything becomes a distraction. I can’t move and I can’t try to do anything else, not even telepathy.” Kate was perturbed that Frankie was so detached. “You can hear telepathy.” Eric said. “True. I just can’t reply without speaking. It’s easier to receive than send.” “What about if you stop everything?” Frankie wondered.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


102

“I can do that without even thinking sometimes. It just happens but then no one can do anything and it wears out but not as quickly.” “So it is either one person or all. Interesting.” Frankie added that to her notes. “What about speed? How much faster are you?” “Twice as fast, except for that once.” Eric answered for Kate. “When?” “We were all together and someone shot Kate. Everything got really slow as we all sped up.” Matt stated. “That was when you moved out of the way of the bullet in time.” “And they stopped it, the bullet.” Father Francis clarified. “They did? You were there? Who was speeding up and who was stopping the bullet?” “Eric, Matt, Brian, Greg and Kate all sped up and all stopped the bullet.” “A bullet? Geez. I have never heard of that. It isn’t very big but that makes it so much harder especially at that speed.” Frankie flipped the page for more room to write. “Can we test that?” “No.” Eric snapped. “And we told you that.” “We won’t aim at anyone. And I didn’t realize you stopped the bullet and not just stopped it from hitting Kate.” She seemed annoyed at his outburst. “And you say that was the fastest you moved.” “Yeah.” Eric relaxed a little. “I bet when you all sped up it built on each other. Very intriguing. We really do need to test that out.” Frankie turned to Eric. “Stay seated.” He had his hands on the table ready to stand up but froze at her command. His eyes tightened and he got up. “No more experimenting on Kate.” Greg hadn’t forgotten how protective Eric could get. Thinking back on smaller triggers, Frankie was lucky he hadn’t lost his temper earlier. “Okay tough guy. Let’s have it out. But if I win, you listen going forward.” “And if I win?” She laughed. “Name it but not that.” Eric grimaced. “I see what you mean by an offensive skill. Can you read all of us right now?”

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

“One at a time but after your outburst I zoned in on you.” “If you’re afraid of losing, I understand.” He made a passive dare.

103

“I’d say you’re a fair match.” She put out her right hand palm up and curled her fingers in a bringit-on motion. “Let’s play.” “Frankie, we can do this later.” Henry discouraged. “Hush.” She said simply. Eric had his usual wicked grin. The one he savored for situations where he was confident he had the upper hand. Greg hated that look. Eric turned back at Henry, “Be ready to catch your sister.” “I guess you can’t block me and move me.” Frankie noted. “I won’t go there.” They must have both started with telekinesis because there was an energy force pushing out from the middle of them. Greg could see the dust motes swirl out from the otherwise invisible wall. Then the wall started to move closer to Frankie. She shook her head and it moved back and reversed crossing the middle and getting perilously close to Eric. He closed his eyes and it zipped back the other way and Frankie flew back almost hitting the wall before Henry stopped her. She staggered to get her balance. “So you can use speed and telekinesis. One more time.” “Why should I?” “Humor me, or are you afraid of losing?” She had read him well. Eric’s ego was his Achilles’ heal. They started again and that time the wall started angling left and right as it closed in on Eric. He added speed but it only slowed it down and he was shoved back slowly. “It helps to shift things when you hit any resistance.” Frankie said casually. “Are you going to listen to me now?” “We’ll see. Seems like a push.” Eric wasn’t flatten by his lose. Unlike many big egos, his wasn’t hollow. It could take a licking and keep on ticking. “Okay, when can we see you again to take some measurements?” Henry decided it was time to stop fooling around. “Is next weekend too soon?”

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


104

They agreed to meet the following Saturday. As they left Greg overheard Eric talking to Frankie. “I’ll hold my end of the bet if you do.” “It would be worth it if you’d really listen to me.” “Why should I listen if you renege on bets?” He walked off. Greg caught up to him. “What was that about?” “She owes me dinner.” “You like her?” “She likes me.” Eric feigned hurt that Greg didn’t see it. “I missed that.” Greg shook his head at Eric’s conceit. He was surprised that Eric would be interested in someone who needlessly taunted Kate. He was sure Frankie found him annoying. “Best of all, she isn’t Matt’s type.” The last girl that Eric was interested in had played him and Matt against each other on Gran’s orders. At the time, Eric was terribly hurt that Matt had let anything happen. All was forgiven when the truth was revealed – forgiven but not forgotten. “What is Matt’s type?” “He likes wimpy girls, like Kate.” Eric was only kidding. “Katie is not wimpy.” Greg didn’t like hearing Kate described as weak. Greg walked down to the student parking lot. Brad was waiting with Kate. They were standing next to Greg’s Bronco not talking. “Do you know…” Greg began. “Ssshhh.” Kate hushed him. Brad had his hand open with a quarter in his palm. It lifted about an inch up and fell again. “I did it.” “Teaching him new tricks. Do you think that’s wise?” Greg smiled. “I have a lot of catching up to do and it is so cool.” The jock had the silliest childlike grin. “Do you know what your brother was betting against Frankie?” Greg hinted expecting that Kate wouldn’t approve. “Dinner.” Kate stated accurately. “He thinks she likes him.” “How do you know that already?”

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

“He thinks every girl likes him.” She shrugged.

105

“Isn’t she a little old for him?” Brad mentioned holding the quarter in the air with his mind. He had a new toy to play with. It started spinning but fell after two rotations. “A couple of years. I don’t think Eric cares.” Something about Frankie didn’t sit well with Kate. Probably that she was cold and used her as a test subject. Greg thought about their hypothetical musing from Fishermen’s Wharf. She seemed rather inert on the matter. Of course, she may be planning on it not making it on its own. If something started to manifest, would Kate be so passive? “So you don’t like it?” Greg wanted to hear her say it. Kate gave him a flat expression. “I can’t control him whether I do or don’t.” “Doubt that.” Brad remarked. Greg and Kate both stared at him. “What if he never accepted Greg would you date him?” “Well, it didn’t happen that way.” Greg was sure it would’ve been an impasse. “You’re the center of the group Kate. I’d wager it’s because of your empathy. That’s why you all sped up feeding off each other. It all channels through you.” Most of the time Brad came off oblivious to the world around him. Then he would make some insightful statement that made Greg think he played dumb most of the time. Fact was, even as Brad made his assessment, he didn’t seem to be that aware of how brilliant his words were. “That’s Henry’s theory. I don’t see it that way. We’re all connected all over.” He grabbed the quarter and pointed at her. “No one person is connected to everyone but you.” “Well, aren’t Frankie and Henry now?” Kate asked proving him wrong. “Not if you don’t like them they aren’t.” Brad played with his quarter ignoring the awkwardness he created with his opinions. Oblivious and brilliant. “In this circle and dating doesn’t have to be the same thing.” Greg added. “But I don’t think Eric would get close to someone without at least your flaccid approval.” “I didn’t like his last girlfriend.” Kate challenged. “And now she’s his ex.” Brad said as if that confirmed his deduction. “Because she moved to Europe.”

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

“And never came back? Or he couldn’t go there and see her? I heard they stopped all flights overseas.” Brad sassed. “It isn’t a bad thing that you guys are so tight. It’s a byproduct of all this

106

wackiness. If I understand this correctly, you’re in each others’ minds, dreams, even your feelings. Guess I’m part of that now.” Perhaps hearing the history summarized in one sitting made it easier for Brad to see. Bottom line, he understood correctly. “Frankie is fine.” Kate said it to shut them up. She didn’t mean it. If no woman was good enough for Jim, there was no hope she would ever approve of anyone for Eric. He was her favorite brother. If she has to share his attention with another woman, she’ll have her say and more. Eric would be between a rock and a hard place if he tried to date someone that Kate disliked. Would Greg ever see the day that Eric would mess up that badly?

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

Casting Call

107

The next week at school the student body was on pins and needles waiting for the casting list to be posted. Except for Greg who could go without ever knowing. Meg had the best shot at a real role and by Wednesday she was unbearable. Kate took her off campus for a girls-only lunch. She did it for Meg but Greg appreciated it more than his cousin. Thursday morning the list was up. Kevin, Stacey’s cousin, was the Pirate King and Chris was the Sergeant of the Police. Brad landed the Major General. Greg couldn’t believe it and credited to his wellpicked audition song. Greg was listed as Samuel, who was one of the pirates. And by the grace of God Meg landed the lead role of Mabel and Kate was Edith, one of her sisters. “Meg, you’re the lead.” Kate said as they jumped up and down holding each other’s arms. “And we’re all in it.” Meg beamed. “This will be so much fun.” “So does that mean you have to kiss Kevin?” Brad joked to Meg. “No, have you even read the script? I end up with Frederic played by some guy named Vincent. Mabel and him are in love.” She practically sang the word love in her high spirits. “Don’t tell me Edith ends up with the Sergeant.” Greg sighed. It would be his bad luck for Kate to have to kiss Chris over and over again in rehearsal. And since he was a pirate, he would have to see it over and over again. “No, he doesn’t really have a love interest but at the end everyone gets paired up. He’ll end up with Ruth who is some girl named Regan.” Meg checked the list for the name. “Edith ends up with the Pirate King.” Kate rolled her eyes. “It’s Stacey’s cousin. Yuck!” Greg didn’t like the idea but he preferred it to Chris. At least Kate wouldn’t enjoy kissing him. “How good an actress are you?” “Not that good. And he kisses her a couple of times.” Kate let her hair fall forward to hide behind. “You’ll be fine.” Meg didn’t want them raining on her parade. “I wonder how I got a role with a name.” Greg’s singing may not have been horrible but it didn’t deserve any special attention. After his character all the other pirates were nameless.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

“You have some speaking lines but no solos. Don’t worry.” Meg assured him. She had been

108

watching a copy of the musical repeatedly since they heard of the production. “There’s a kick off lunch tomorrow for the whole cast and anyone that wants to work behind the scenes.” “Ian is going to be in the band.” Greg bragged for his stepbrother. “He’s a drummer and really good. He has a full set down in the basement.” The kick off lunch was on the patio at St. Iggy’s. It was a late lunch so the students from Santa Katrina could drive over after classes. The usual lunch benches were arranged closer and had table clothes over them to give it a more occasional ambiance. It was a buffet with barbeque chicken and the works. The four of them grabbed their food and took a table. Chris waved as he got his plate of food and stopped by with two other guys from Santa Katrina, Kevin was one of them. “Hi Meg. This is Vincent, he’s playing Frederic.” “Hi.” Meg suddenly seemed speechless. Vincent was good looking, the tall dark and handsome type. He smiled when he saw she was pretty. Greg figured he had the same concerns she did about who she would have to kiss on stage. Chris introduced the table to Vincent as they sat down uninvited. “All we need is Regan and we’ll have most of the main characters.” Kevin noted. “No need to call her over.” Chris mumbled. He didn’t sound excited that she was part of the cast. He caught Greg’s eye and Greg was sure he wasn’t pleased. Chris was mostly too accepting of everyone. Kevin was a jerk and yet Chris hung out with him some. Greg worried that Regan was going to be a nightmare. “So you’re Edith.” Kevin gave Kate a sinister leer. “I guess it could’ve been worse.” “But then again, it could’ve been better.” Kate joked with a hint of edginess. “I hope you’re good. I’m willing to have private rehearsal times with you if it will help.” He flirted. “Really, have any of you read the script?” Meg moaned. “You don’t have much dialogue between the two characters just a couple of kisses.” “Yeah, I know.” Kevin confessed. Greg put his arm around Kate and pulled her into him.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

Kevin laughed. Chris watched it all carefully.

109

“Hi there.” Another Santa Katrina student joined the table. She sat down. “I’m Regan.” She was cute with brown hair and eyes and a big smile that stretched from ear to ear. Kevin took on the responsibility of introducing the others. The fact Chris didn’t do the honors was another bad sign this girl was bad news. “I’m so thrilled. I’ll be honest. I was hoping to get Mabel but then I do get to kiss Chris, so it washes out in the end.” She was supercilious. Greg hid a smile. It amused him that Chris would have to kiss a girl that he didn’t like. He tried not to let his jealousy get the better of him but he found humor in the idea anyway. Then Regan turned in her seat to Kate, “Is he any good?” She wanted to know if Chris was a worthy kisser. Greg’s face heated up. Chris was appalled. Even Kevin stared unblinkingly to Regan’s inappropriate comment. Kate’s mouth dropped open but she recovered. “He’s great. I wish I were you.” She said it to irk Kevin. Unfortunately it also irked Greg. Chris blushed and averted Greg’s eyes. “I knew you were the one to ask.” She was a loyal fan of Stacey’s old website that recapped all of Kate and Chris’ dates with added and inaccurate details. “She’s just pulling your leg. Don’t believe everything you read.” Chris said warily. “Sure, sure. It was all over the top anyway. I mean really, to think you two stole off to have a fling. Who could believe that?” Regan was sarcastic but Greg wasn’t sure if that meant she put credence in what she said or not. “So how did you land the Major General role?” Chris asked Brad to change the topic. Brad took a second to respond. He was still incredulous at how uncouth Regan was. Greg noticed that he had become increasingly protective over Kate and Meg. The whole inner circle got that way over each other. Brad also had an added sense of gallantry that made Kate and Meg more important to guard to him. He shirked off his concerns and finally answered. “I guess they liked my audition.” “What did you sing?”

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


110

“The Scotsman. It’s a drinking song about a man who gets drunk and passes out in his kilt. Two ladies see him and check to see if he is wearing underwear and leave a ribbon as a momentum of their visit. When he wakes and sees it he declares that he doesn’t know where he’s been but at least he won first prize.” Chris laughed so hard tears dripped out of his eyes. Regan was revolted. “You’re kidding.” Brad started singing with a little bit of a Scottish accent. “Now the Scotsman woke to nature's call and stumbled toward the trees. Behind the bush he lifts his kilt and gawks at what he sees. And in a startled voice he says to what’s before his eyes, Oh! lad I don't know where you've been but I see you won first prize.” “Okay, okay. I get it.” Regan held up her hand for him to cease and desist. “That’s awesome.” Chris bellowed. “You’re pretty good.” Greg complimented. “And I thought you were just screwing around when you picked that song.” “I was. I’m as surprised as you guys that I got a good part.” Brad didn’t have an arrogant bone about getting his prime role. “You do realize you have to sing one of the hardest songs in the whole play?” Regan defied. “It’s super fast.” He winked at Kate. “I’ll keep up.” He planned to learn speed next. “Welcome.” Father Francis addressed everyone. “We’re glad that you were able to celebrate with us today. Copies of the play and a soundtrack are available for each of you as well as the rehearsal schedule. Please fill out an information card to make sure we have the best numbers and emails to keep you posted. We also want to mention that Jeff has taken on the responsibility of scenery and props.” Many at their table moaned as most of the crowd gave an compulsory applause. “We do not have a firm date but we are looking at February or March before Spring break. Please eat up and enjoy.” He walked over to their table to congratulate some of his favorite students on landing so many quality roles. “You four never fail to amaze me.” “Thanks Father Frank.” Brad said.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


111

“Francis.” He automatically corrected. “And who else do we have here?” Greg introduced the Santa Katrina people to him. “Splendid. The joint effort is already building new friendships across the schools.” He walked on. Kevin rolled his eyes after he left. “What’s wrong with you?” Chris asked. “I don’t like him.” “How can you not like Father Frank?” Brad was in disbelief. Everyone liked Father Francis. “Easy when you get rejected.” Kevin bitterly said. Kate glanced at Greg puzzled. “How hard is it to get into this school?” “It’s easier to get into Berkeley and almost impossible to transfer into.” He said quietly. “I guess I was lucky.” She was a rare exception. “How did you get in as a junior?” Kevin glanced up at her. It was a question that came up often her first year at St. Ignatius’. “My grandfather teaches here.” Kevin was disgusted. Brad chortled. “Better than that, she isn’t even Catholic.” “What?” Kevin was skeptical. “Who isn’t Catholic in this town?” “I was baptized.” That was Kate’s only true connection to the religion. “Baptized?” Kevin threw his head back in disbelief. She had stated it as proof she belonged but it only increased his incredulous repugnance. “Is that how you got a good role in the play?” Regan added insult to injury. “Because of your grandfather?” “Hardly, he’s the math teacher.” Kate didn’t like Regan’s accusations. “Whatever it takes. If you have connections, use them. I would.” Chris just shook his head. Then he peered at Kate with a perplexed expression. Kate dropped her eyes and peeped out a small “oops.” Greg took notice and when they got to his car he pinned her against the door. “What was the oops for?” She hid behind her hair so he moved it away. “Katie?”

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

“I accidentally replied to Chris’ thought and he realized it.” She confessed “Telepathy?” She nodded as she tried to hide behind her long hair.

112

“Katie.” He brushed her hair behind her shoulder. He didn’t like talking to her hair, as pretty as it was. “I know. It was involuntary.” That didn’t make him feel better about her slip. He opened the door and let her in.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM
 Tennis

113

Kate started tennis practice twice a week after school. She was maxed out on time and Greg saw less and less of her. Their first match was against Santa Katrina on Thursday. Girl’s tennis wasn’t the big draw that football, basketball and baseball were. Even so, Chris made the effort to be there to cheer her on, even against his own school. Kate dominated the matches and was victorious. Greg had intended to take her out for a private date after the match. He didn’t account for the team and friends to want to grab pizza in a group. He was forced to share her company. Coach Evans, who was the head coach and his baseball coach, sat down with Greg as Kate was selecting new songs for the jukebox with Brad. “I hear you and Brad are in the musical. Congratulations.” “Thanks. Are you worried it will take too much of our time when baseball starts?” Greg heard a little regret in his coach’s tone. “They promised me that won’t be a problem and you guys don’t need as much as most of the team. Still, I’ll be happy when it’s over.” He smiled. “I’m glad Kate is on the team this year. She’s one hell of a tennis player.” “Yeah, I was surprised. She kind of hates too much attention.” “She tries to be too nice too.” Coach Evans added. “I tell her constantly that she can be nice after the match. She’s good enough to wear out her opposition but she would do even better with a little more ferocity in her game.” “At least it’s better than if she couldn’t turn it off after the game.” “True.” His coach laughed probably thinking about Stacey, as Greg was when he made the comment. “What will she do when the play opens?” “I don’t know. But her role is kind of small and always part of a group. It isn’t like she is the center of attention. She doesn’t want to be ignored, she just hates to be the star.” They glanced up and Brad, Chris and several team members crowded Kate.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


114

“She’s the star of the team.” Coach Evans smiled. “I’m hoping we can find a better tennis coach. We have some candidates but Father Francis is worried he’s going to lose Mr. Stewart soon so he is reluctant to hire any yet.” Mr. Stewart was a horrible teacher and was on probation after falsely accusing Greg, Brad, Kate and Meg of cheating on their midterms. “Is Mr. Stewart in danger of being fired?” Greg speculated that his probation wasn’t going well. “I don’t know about that. I hear he’s doing better this year.” Greg didn’t think he was doing much better. If anything, he wasn’t as proficient at Chemistry and that tamed his sadistic nature. Less horrible wasn’t exactly the same thing as better. “Then why would he leave?” “He doesn’t like it here in California and his mother is sick. She lives on the East Coast. He may not make it another year if she gets any worse.” “That sucks.” Greg wouldn’t miss Mr. Stewart but an illness in any family was never good news. “One applicant can fill in both positions and Father Francis is very impressed with her. I told him to just hire her but he wants to wait until after the holidays. She doesn’t have credentials and he would have to go through bureaucracy to break the requirements. It wouldn’t be the first exception he hired.” Kate was hugging Chris good-bye. Greg tried to be happy that he was leaving rather than let it annoy him that she embracing a former interest. “I guess things are winding down.” Greg went to collect her. “Hey superstar, are you ready to go yet?” “Yes.” Kate was relieved. She was spent from the game and socializing. Brad and Meg gave her hugs and congratulated her for the umpteenth time. Greg drove her home. “I should’ve realized the whole team would want to celebrate in a group.” He told her on the way. “Is that bad?” She held his hand. “Not completely. It’s just been a while since we went out alone.” “How about Saturday, after we meet with Henry and Frankie?” “It’s a date.”

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM
 Practice Makes Perfect
It took some convincing for Greg to get permission to go out on Saturday afternoon with the group. Angela didn’t like Ian being home alone. Andy told her she could stay home but that it wasn’t

115

needed for a couple of hours. In the end Greg was allowed to go and Ian would be home alone for the first time if only for a short period. Angela only agreed after she learned Jim would be next door in case anything happened like a house fire or earthquake. They arrived at Henry and Frankie’s home, which wasn’t more than ten minutes away. When the entire group had gathered they went out to the backyard. It was spacious and they had circled off a track shape with some wooden benches and safety cones. “We’re going to test speed.” Frankie said. “Who wants to go first? Who’s the fastest?” Eric stepped forward. She rolled her eyes. “First run a lap without any enhancement. You don’t have to go your fastest, just a comfortable pace.” Eric ran the lap just over three minutes. When he ran it again with speed enhancement his time was halved. Matt and Greg halved their times as well. Brian and Kate took turns and they all were short of twice as fast when they sped up. Then Frankie had Eric and Matt run together. They pushed each other faster just from their competitive natures. When they sped up they took less than a minute. She had them all run at once and they were around the track in thirty seconds. “That’s thirty miles per hour.” Henry added to the log. “That’s incredible.” Frankie looked over his shoulder at the numbers. “I wonder if all their skills gain strength.” Brad tried running a lap using speed. Kate had empathized with him and Meg while she ran and it worked. Either because he was more athletic or because the speed was exaggerated by the combined effort, he caught up quicker. Meg had sped up as well but with less impact than Brad. Frankie was very interested in how promptly they learned from Kate. She was more interested in how they increased abilities when they worked together. If all of them using their skill at the same time enhanced things, it could help Tyler’s group as well. They hypothesized the effect would be less pronounced since they were not bonded out of blood and friendship. Henry noted that the enhancement might be an underlying affect of the empathy, which meant that it was a benefit that wouldn’t help the gang

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


116

unless they had a skilled empathizer as well. Still learning gifts was something extremely unique and that was a greater competitive advantage. After they were done on the track they went down to the basement. It was a large room with the occasional support column where needed. One corner was well padded and had a four-foot long punching bag hanging from by a chain bolted to the ceiling. They also had a full set of weights and some typical gym equipment. On a table a little further away they had several paint ball pellets. There was a fresh sheet hanging on the wall behind them. They used different color paint balls and a high-speed camera to videotape who was the fastest with telekinesis. Eric was the fastest followed closely by Matt. Brian, Greg and Kate were bunched together in that order. Brad and Meg were able to pick up the lesson with slower times. “Brad,” Frankie called him over, “outside of having an immunity that’s on the verge of one of these gifts, can you do anything else?” “Not that I know of. Why?” “That means that Kate’s empathy is so strong with you that she can teach you and you don’t have any genetic glitch. Anyone that’s close to her could learn these things.” “How come she’s the only one that seems to be able to teach things? Except for us to each other.” Matt pointed at Eric and himself. “She’s that good.” Frankie guessed. “I’ve never heard of anything like it and I’ve met a fair share of empaths.” They took turns at weights to see how much they could lift. Stronger people were able to lift heavier weights but all could lift more weight with their minds than with their muscles. Like their speed, joint efforts helped increase their abilities. Brad was already up to snuff because he was the best at weights without telekinesis. Combining paranormal gifts with natural talents had great results. The boys were straining to outdo each other and Frankie took the chance to talk with the girls. “Which skills take the most concentration and which are more effortless?” “Hearing doesn’t take much. I could listen and do these other things.” Meg was certain. “Empathy is kind of the same. But sometimes I can’t empathize with people.” Kate explained.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


117

“Like me. You have a resistance to me.” Frankie didn’t sound hurt by it. It was a fact that was apparent. Kate nodded and then changed the subject. “And when I pull people in a dream, once they are there I don’t have to think about it anymore until it’s time to let them go.” “Could you try that tonight with Henry or me?” “I can do both. I can pull in everyone if you want.” “That would be excellent. Maybe you can try to teach me.” “We can try.” Kate doubted it would work. Frankie treated them like lab mice and it bothered Kate. “I’ll understand if you can’t and I don’t think you are a lab mouse.” Frankie had heard her thought. It made sense that she would listen in on Kate’s mind but it wasn’t going to build trust. “You know if we can get you to flex your deterrence skill more, you may be able to affect more than one selected person and use another of your skills to boot.” “It wears me out the quickest.” “That may be more a self proclaimed prophecy than fact. Try to stop Eric and Matt now.” She said quieter. “Being twins and standing together may make it easier.” They watched the twins and sure enough Eric and Matt both lost the knack. “Hey.” Eric looked at Kate. “Just experimenting.” “You stopped us both.” Matt realized when Eric spoke. It was a new twist on the old trick. “Try Greg and Eric now.” Frankie suggested. Kate tried again and succeeded. “I don’t think I could hold it long.” Her body shook with concentration. “Not yet. You will. What about seeing other people’s vision?” “I can see when someone close to me writes something but I haven’t seen more than that.” Meg admitted. “I have done the same but I don’t like to it.” “Why not?”

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


118

“I prefer telepathy although vision has a longer range.” Kate knew that Jim was far from Andy when he saw him signing his wedding certificate. “And seeing through people’s eyes feels kind of invasive and telepathy is a two way street.” “You won’t like mind reading then. Do you want to try to learn it?” “I already have.” Kate said shyly. Frankie’s eyes shot up from her notes. “When?” “Last time we met. You were reading Eric’s mind and I think I started to read yours. It was like telepathy but you didn’t seem to hear me. I heard things you didn’t mean for me to hear.” Kate confessed shame faced. “I didn’t like it.” Frankie flushed. “I should warn you about something.” She said gently. “I have grown up with people that could read my mind, Henry and our dad. We all have a bad habit of putting out false walls to protect our privacy.” “You weren’t thinking good things about Eric.” Kate didn’t look up. It was another reason to keep her distance from Frankie. “I know. They were there to keep Henry out and possibly Eric.” “I don’t like it.” Kate repeated. “You’re brother is a nice guy. I like him. I have good thoughts about him. It’s just that he flirts a lot and I don’t want him inside my head.” “So you think bad things?’ Kate understood why she would hide her true feelings but not why she would do it in a rude way. “Untrue and unkind. Yes.” Greg had stopped working on weights and was absorbed in the conversation. Frankie had made a huge mistake. Weather she meant her negative thoughts about Eric or not, Kate would be intolerant. The other boys were getting bored and they decided to call it a day. Greg took Kate out to dinner. She wasn’t very talkative and was exhausted. They caught the latest comedy but she fell asleep half way through the movie. Greg walked her to her door and kissed her. “Don’t over do it.” “I’ll see you soon.” She kissed him again.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

Greg fell asleep and found himself in Kate’s misty room. “What’s up?” “I have to call in Frankie and Henry and I didn’t want to be alone.” “What about your brothers?” Greg wondered why she didn’t call them with him.

119

“I don’t think my brothers are asleep yet.” They had gone to bed early for a weekend night after their truncated date. “I’m only getting Frankie.” Kate noted. Frankie walked into her room. “This is interesting. It feels almost like being awake but I know I’m dreaming. Is it always misty?” Greg nodded. “And there isn’t an obvious light source.” It was as if the mist gave off a soft light over everything keeping shadows from forming. “Is Henry still awake?” Kate asked. “He may be. He was working on his computer and he sometimes loses track of time. Is that why he isn’t here?” “Or he doesn’t want to come.” “I doubt that.” Frankie sat at Kate’s desk. “Where is everyone else?” “Brian and Meg are on a date and probably aren’t home. I don’t know where Matt and Eric are. I can try again.” “Try to empathize with me first.” Kate closed her eyes but it wasn’t working. “Let me just get them.” Frankie nodded but showed some signs of frustration. It was one thing to not be trusted. It was another if it was going to prevent her from experiencing a shared skill. Eric walked in. “Geez, I barely fell asleep Kate.” “Where’s Matt?” Kate wanted more people. Frankie made her uncomfortable. “On a date.” He said and Kate frowned. “It’s only a first date. Nothing to write home about.” “Not a lot of secrets in your family.” Frankie stated. Her family had taken to hiding as much as they could for privacy. Kate’s just left it all out there to the point that boundaries were blurry if not completely eradicated. “You get used to it.” Eric flopped into the sitting chair.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

“In the morning, we’re all going to remember this?” Frankie amazed at all the details and the peculiar fog. “Yes. Here.” Kate grabbed a notepad from her desk.

120

“Let me.” Eric took it and wrote something on a piece of paper and gave it to Frankie. “You’ll have that in the morning.” It was his number. He had his wicked grin on display. Frankie took the note and put it in her pocket. “Really?” “Katie even pulled me through once.” Greg announced. “She did!” Eric voice rose. “It was after she was in the pool. It wasn’t anything reprehensible.” Greg tried to ease his concerns. He forgot Eric didn’t know. Eric simmered a bit but let it pass. He sighed. Kate was grown up and he was a fool to think she was his baby sister still. “How did you do that?” Frankie was more interested in the process rather than the moral implications. “Well, we fell asleep in the dream and I guess I was holding on to him.” She averted Eric’s condemning eyes. “Nice.” Eric hissed out. “Kind of judgmental, aren’t you?” Frankie said sarcastically. “Actually, I get protective a lot.” He grimaced. “That’s a kind spin. They’re all protective of you.” Frankie observed. “I wonder if that helps? Or if there is something about you that contributes to it.” “We’re all like that with each other.” Greg repeated Brad’s remarks. “It’s just we get more so about the girls and even more about Kate because of what happened with her grandmother. It’s plain pack mentality.” “Yeah. She’s the most skilled but the most victimized.” Eric agreed. Zuzu rose from her curled up position on the bed and stretched out. She jumped down and started sniffing at Frankie’s feet. Frankie reached to pick her up but she slipped out of her fingers. “She doesn’t like to be held.” Kate told her. “She wants to see who you are.”

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


121

Frankie held her hands up and let the cat finish her investigation. “What does she think of me?” “She says you smell like a dog, a Golden Retriever.” Frankie laughed. “That’s Buster. We put him in a room when you were over.” Frankie moved off the chair and sat crossed legged on the floor for Zuzu to better examine her. “Hello.” She started petting Zuzu who purred excessively. Being held was against the rules but affection was always welcome to the flirty cat. “That will win her over.” Greg acknowledged. “She’s a real attention whore.” “It won’t work.” Kate answered an unheard question in Frankie’s mind. “I don’t know why I can’t empathize with you.” “I think I understand and you must have once if you can read my mind.” Frankie didn’t seemed as bothered by it as she was earlier – perhaps hiding her weakness in front of Eric. Her clinical mind had probably spent some time giving it special consideration. Knowing that Kate could read her mind she must have adjusted her walls to stay away from Eric bashing. It would be needed to soften Kate in the future. “It’s easier to learn than share a gift. I didn’t care for Stacey but still learned speed.” “Maybe in time.” “What do we do if Tyler comes back sooner rather than later?” Eric posed the million-dollar question sensing the tension between the lady folk. “I’ve been wondering when he’ll reach out to Greg again.” “I’ll let you know as soon as he’s near.” Greg promised. “Why wait?” Eric glanced at Greg. “Why not call your mother and find out what she knows about this. She came to you for a reason and I bet dollar for donut it was about him.” “Is that true?” Frankie hadn’t heard about his mother trying to warn Greg. “I don’t want to talk to her.” Greg was unmovable. “How would you feel if I reached out to her?” Frankie offered. “Would you like me to try?” “Not really but better than me calling her.” After some small talk Kate released Frankie and Eric from her dream but kept Greg. “What is happening with you and Frankie?” Greg felt the anxiety.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


122

“She likes to think things about Eric being a jerk and I don’t like to hear it.” Kate was relieved to talk about it. “She says she often thinks false things to keep other people from getting too deep into her mind.” “And you don’t believe her.” “She was telling the truth but knowing she’s lying doesn’t mean I know what she really thinks. It isn’t fun to hear.” Kate could tell when people were honest when she wanted to. “They don’t really feel like they are in the circle do they?” Kate shook her head. “I wish I could stay here all night but I better get back before one of us wakes up in the wrong house.” He gave Kate a long kiss.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

Katie Over Does It Greg started to worry more and more about Kate. She was constantly tired. Rehearsals were

123

twice a week, tennis was twice a week or more if they had a match, they had a weekly study session and spent at least one day a weekend testing with Frankie and Henry. It was taking a toll on all of them but only Kate looked completely exhausted. Frankie was pushing her the hardest at boot camp. Greg wondered if it was from frustration that Kate didn’t empathize with her easily or if there was an ulterior motive behind it. Kate and Eric were easily the most talented and perhaps Frankie preferred dealing with Kate’s standoffish resistance rather than Eric’s raw romance. The first Pirates of Penzance rehearsals were simple. They ran through lines and lyrics on one afternoon and everyone with singing parts would practice the other. They had until November before they started learning dance steps and working it out on stage. To keep things fair the readings were held at St. Iggy’s and song rehearsals were at Santa Katrina. Kevin was making a nuisance of himself with Kate. He liked to remind her and Greg that they would have a few on stage kisses. When the teachers weren’t looking he often squirted breath freshener in his mouth or popped an Altoid and smiled forebodingly towards Kate with a puckered lips. That was enough to aggravate Greg’s worries but Regan didn’t seem to think so. She was becoming quite the diva. He was apprehensive she might try to hurt Meg before opening night. He had seen a television show about a girl who did that. Regan was fixated on the fact that she was Meg’s understudy. Kate was hers. Greg was Chris’, which wasn’t bad at all. They got along as good as if it were summer even though Greg could see how he looked at Kate and how she liked it. Every other week or so he sensed Tyler nearby but never for long. Whatever Tyler wanted he wasn’t in a hurry. Eric figured there was a bigger plan and Greg was only a pond. When the time for execution was close, he wouldn’t dillydally. Time flew by with all their activities and it was the weekend before Kate’s birthday. Greg didn’t know what to get her. In the end he decided she needed a new iPod and got her a pink Nano. She would love it. She was an easy girlfriend to keep happy.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

Frankie had called Greg’s mother as promised but she only left a message. There was never a reply. Since Tyler hadn’t made his cause known – no one felt it warranted a follow up.

124

At Frankie and Henry’s they were moving on to strategies. They would split into two groups and everyone watched out for someone else on their team until it came to full circle. Kate, Greg and Eric were often a team since they were so connected. It was pointless to put Eric and Kate on opposite teams. He would defend her even if he were competing against her. In their team, Eric would watch out for Kate, who watched out for Greg, who watched out for Eric. When someone would try to do anything the watcher countered leaving the other to continue their assault or protection as needed. Brad and Meg were still catching up but they had made great headway. Buster, the Golden Retriever, had joined them in their regular boot camps. Kate had bonded with him instantly. It had helped her warm up to Henry but there was still much ground to cover between her and Frankie. Frankie hadn’t learned from Kate despite more attempts. It would be wiser to have her teach Henry but he was unwilling to get between his sister and her star pupil. Greg didn’t know what Frankie was thinking. If Kate were half as protective of Eric as he was about her, it wouldn’t take much to keep Kate from warming up. The next best chance Frankie had at learning a skill was Eric, who would have the same resistance because of her taut relationship with Kate. She needed to win them both over as confidants. Eric was more than willing to flirt with Frankie but Greg had decided it was the chase. He was bored and mischievous and she was a challenge. And for all Greg knew, he had another dozen on campus to fill his weekdays with. “Next week we’re having a get together at my house for my birthday. I would really like if you came.” Kate asked Frankie and Henry. “Father Francis will be there.” “That would be fun.” Henry said earnestly. “And we can finally meet the parents.” Frankie was all business. Meeting their families would give her more insight. “You can bring Buster. Zuzu would like to meet him. She kind of likes dogs if they aren’t too hyper.” “We’ll do that.”

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

“Good. And Holly will be there. She works with my dad and she has some gift I can’t quite place. They went out to dinner after work last week.” She rolled her eyes.

125

Greg had forgotten about the new employee and how Kate distrusted her. Kate was as bad as Eric. Neither liked new people until they were proven. It wasn’t fair. He hated his early days trying to break through the family’s defenses to get close to Kate. If she weren’t always so wasted, he would have brought it up. As it was, he let his opinions go for the sake of harmony. They broke into different groups that day. Greg, Meg and Brad on one team. Eric, Matt and Brian on another. Frankie took Kate off to the side to work on learning a skill again. She wanted to learn speed first, probably because that gave Eric an advantage on her when they met. She played Eric’s ego that day but clearly hers was just as big albeit more brittle. The twins on the same side gave the brothers a great advantage. Eric and Matt were a force to be reckoned with. They were double the trouble. Henry moved Brian to the other team but Eric and Matt were still able to out maneuver the other four on any task. Usually they tried to grab some kind of flags or balls before the other team. “It isn’t working!” Kate snapped. “I need to get some space.” She ran into the house. Eric and Greg jerked their heads to look at what was going on. “I’ll get Katie.” Greg ran after her. She sat in the kitchen with her head in her hands. “Are you okay?” She appeared weary and frail. Gently he cleared stray hair from obstructing her face. “I just feel like I’m being pushed too hard.” Kate was fighting back tears. “Don’t cry. Give yourself a break.” Greg couldn’t handle seeing her cry. Frankie came into the house. “Kate.” “Leave me alone.” Kate wasn’t usually so disrespectful. She was too tired to be nice. “I’m not some oddity for you to experiment on.” “I don’t think you are.” “Yes you do.” Greg didn’t think that was accurate. Frankie didn’t know how to let her hair down but in the meanwhile, she came off as remote. “Hey.” Eric walked in. “Kate, let’s go home.”

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

“We aren’t done yet. Kate can sit out the rest of the day.” Frankie was losing control of the

126

group. It was only an illusionary control to begin with. Kate was the center, no one argued that, but Eric was the leader. “I’m taking her home.” Eric wasn’t combative. His authority was solid. He tenderly grabbed Kate’s arm and got her standing. “We can skip the rest of the day.” “You were going to listen.” Frankie challenged. Eric scrunched his eyebrows. It was an old agreement that Frankie never intended to fulfill her half of the obligation. “That’s off. Kate is wiped out. She needs a break.” He started leading Kate out of the house. He cocked his head and stopped. Spinning around to look at Frankie he said, “The timing isn’t good.” They left. Greg and Frankie stood in silence. After a long break Greg said, “Did anyone ever mention what a protective monster he is?” Her eyes darted to Greg. “How did you ever get passed him?” “I rescued her twice.” Greg counted in his head. “Then he eased up a little. After I saved her life he finally accepted me.” Frankie laughed. “She’s holding back. It’s my fault or she does it because she doesn’t trust me.” “Probably both.” Greg didn’t know if that was the best response but it was true. “What was that about timing?” “I told him we could go out but he pretty much shut that down.” She had been rejected. “It was my only ace up my sleeve. I held it too long.” “You committed the unforgivable sin, don’t mess with Katie.” “Why do you call her Katie?” “I started that to bug her but it kind of stuck.” “How do I get her to accept me?” Frankie was lost. It wasn’t a hard solution but she kept herself from seeing the cure. “Back off. Can’t you see how worn out she is?” “She wears herself out by blocking me. I hoped if she got tired she would let go of that and concentrate on the matter at hand.”

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

There was a plan behind it. “It isn’t working.” “No, it isn’t.” “You have to win them both over. And just because he flirts with you doesn’t mean he trusts you.” Greg wished someone had given him advice when he was on the outside looking in. “I have to win them both over. That’s the answer?”

127

“Yep. You keep talking about them like they’re a project. Kate’s aren’t the only walls up. Do you like them as people?” “Of course. They’re great. Even Eric grows on a girl after a while. If he weren’t telepathic and empathetic and a mind reader, I wouldn’t think twice about going out with him.” “Does he use that stuff on you?” Greg didn’t think he did. It would be breaking rules to his game of love. “I don’t know. He acts like he knows I am interested.” Greg laughed. “He pretty much thinks all women are interested.” And after what Frankie just said, he was right about her. She sighed. “I’ve never worked with so many communication skills around me. I feel completely exposed and transparent. It isn’t in my character to be vulnerable.” “You want them to trust you before you trust them. Let me know how that works out.” Greg went back to the yard. Buster jumped up to greet him. The others were getting their things together. “I guess we’re ending early.” “Seems like it.” Henry said. “We’ll see you at Kate’s party. Are we still welcome?” He tried to sound like he was joking. “Of course you are.” Brad answered. “Kate’s cranky. She pushing herself hard.” Being pushed too hard, Greg thought. School, the play, tennis and their little boot camp were adding up. Greg stopped to get some flowers for Kate and went straight to her house. Jim answered the door. Holly and him were working on some new marketing campaign and Greg prepared to find Kate in an even fouler mood than when she left boot camp. “She might be asleep.” Jim warned.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


128

“I’ll be quiet.” Greg promised and he softly crept up to her room. She was lying on the bed with her trusty sidekick Zuzu in her usual post. “Hey there.” “You shouldn’t have gotten me flowers. I acted like a child. I don’t deserve them.” “I brought them because I love you and you didn’t act like a child. You acted like someone that was trying to please too many people at once and you snapped. It happens.” He put them on the nightstand. He sat on her bed and stroked her hair. “You want to get some sleep?” “You can stay.” She sat up and kissed him. “Thanks for the flowers.” “They were better than that.” He joked puckering up for more rewards. She complied. “Did you see that Holly was here?” Zuzu jumped down from the bed and walked out of the room. “Is she going to check on them?” “Maybe. I don’t know.” Kate smiled reassured by the cat’s devotion. “I don’t like how you’re wearing yourself out.” Greg had danced around the topic some but the time for subtlety had passed. It wasn’t her fault but she had the power to stop it. “How come it’s only happening to me? We all have busy schedules.” “Frankie thinks,” Greg started and Kate sighed at the sound of her name, “that you’re spending energy by keeping a distance from her.” Kate got up and started pacing. “I can’t help that. She is just so intense. How are you supposed to be close to someone that is that sharply edged?” “Katie, relax.” Greg stood up and hugged her. “I’m not saying that you don’t have a right but it could explain why you’re so tired if you are doing double duty every time you’re near them.” “I’m sorry. I’m tired and irritable. Eric was right to bring me home.” “Yeah. Tell him that. He could use the ego boost. And I always like to see him take charge.” Greg said cynically. “Reminds me of the good old days.” “Stop it. Eric was looking out for me. At least someone was.” She pulled away. Eric was a soft spot for her after all of Frankie’s foul thoughts. “Do you think we can skip next weekend if they’re here for the party?” “I’m sure we can talk them into it.”

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

“Good, maybe a weekend off will help.”

129

They decided to get in some studying. They had big term papers due before Thanksgiving. Greg got his laptop and they sat quietly in her room working. Kate dozed off and he stayed and worked. An hour hadn’t passed when Zuzu ran back in at full speed and jumped up on Kate. When she didn’t wake up Zuzu pawed her face until she stirred. “What?” Kate said to the cat as she stretched awake. Her eyes opened wide until there was white showing around every side of her brown irises. “You aren’t going to believe this. Holly can turn herself invisible.” “Is she sure?” Greg was amazed at the small black and white cat’s stealth abilities. “Zuzu scared her when she was alone in dad’s office snooping around and she vanished for a second before reappearing. We need to get her to do this in front of me.” “How?” “We’ll have to set something in motion for next week. Dad probably invited her to the party and she can’t resist more time to sink her claws into him.” Kate dripped with false sweetness. Greg hated to hear Kate sound so opposing to someone that may be innocently interested in Jim. It was Kate’s idea to find him someone special and when a lady came along, she rejected her. Kate’s dark circles convinced him to play along. “We’ll think of something.” He barely spoke to Holly and he didn’t have a strong impression either way. If anything, she was extremely bland and Jim did deserve better than bland.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM
 Now You See Her

130

The next day Kate was more rested. She had a good nights sleep and color was coming back that had been long gone. The routine of school, tennis and rehearsal helped. The weekend warrior workshop was the culprit that wore her down. The tennis and rehearsals invigorated her. The last rehearsal that week Mr. Philips had them standing on the stage as they walked through their lines and sang their songs. The play started with the pirates bidding adieu to Frederic who had come of age and chosen not to join the crew. He leaves with Ruth, his nanny who had mistakenly entrusted him to a pirate instead of a pilot, and they run into Mabel and her sisters. Mabel and Frederic hold hands while the sisters sing about how scandalous it was. Then the pirates find the other sisters and started chasing them around the stage. Kevin zeroed in on Kate and pulled her into a tight hug on cue. Greg unconsciously curled his hands into fists. Then the Major General, Brad, walked on and sang his song that was incredibly fast. Brad didn’t have any problems with it. The pirates leave after the General convinced them that he was an orphan like they were. They have a rule not to harm other orphans. This is well known about the Pirates of Penzance and many crews had professed the same bogus claim to be set free. The police don’t appear until the second half where they have a couple of numbers. They vowed to help Frederic who wanted to end piracy and capture his old comrades. Frederic learns from Ruth and the Pirate King that he was entrusted to them until his twenty-first birthday. Since he was born on Leap Day, he is technically still one of them even though he is twenty-one years old. He regretfully rejoins them and then mayhem ensues ending with everyone being happily coupled. Again Kevin had an unnecessarily tight grip on Kate as they walked through the final scene. It really was a ridiculous musical for sure. As Greg waited for Kate and Meg, Regan chatted with him. Greg didn’t know if his ego was getting the better of him but he was sure she was flirting. He talked up Kate and how they had been happily dating for almost a year. That didn’t change her demeanor but Kate’s appearance did.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

The ride home would have been the perfect debriefing from the odd events with Regan if Kate hadn’t told him that she invited Chris to her party. He knew they were friends and hell, he considered Chris a friend as well. Still she kept him close and that got under his skin.

131

Chris was the first to arrive after Greg. They played pool while the other guests collected. Ellen, Jim’s mother and Kate’s grandmother, had a fantastico spread of Mexican food. As Kate had predicted, Holly was there. They hadn’t come up with a plan on how to force her to use her powers. Kate was going to keep an empathetic feeler on her and hope it may happen by surprise again. Frankie and Henry came under the guise of friends of Eric and Matt’s. They weren’t much older and it was plausible. Frankie wore a skirt and she looked better than normal. Eric couldn’t keep his eyes off her but he had not forgiven her for upsetting Kate. He couldn’t ignore Frankie completely since they were supposed to be friends but he did manage to keep other people around. Greg had to hand it to him. He could work a crowd to his purpose. Matt had brought Joann, the girl he had dated a couple of times. She was a cute petite blond and Kate adored her. Luckily for Matt. Auggie stopped by on an extended invite from Chris and they spent most of the time with Kate and Greg and their friends. They didn’t know any other people. They were playing pool when Frankie came up to Kate. “Can I see your room?” She asked. “I’ll give you the tour.” The ladies left. “Is that Eric’s girlfriend?” Chris asked picking up on the signs that Greg barely recognized even after both parties had so much as admitted they liked the other. “Not really. Kate doesn’t like her for him.” “So it was over before it started?” Chris understood the dynamics. Brad smiled. He made the some conclusion weeks earlier. Buster and Zuzu were palling around. They were an odd couple, a large dog and a tiny cat and they kept near Holly at all times. When she wasn’t in the mix of the party, they weren’t. Greg lined up the cue to shoot when he heard Buster’s bark inside the house. He finished the game and went to check on Kate. Frankie and Kate were in her room with Buster and Zuzu. “What was that bark about?” Greg asked hoping it was what she wanted.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

Kate was smiling. “Buster scared Holly. It was completely accidental.” Frankie teased. “And?” Kate closed her eyes and disappeared.

132

He could see where she sat on the bed by her indentation but he couldn’t see her. “You really are kind of scary.” “Do you think she’s a plant?” Frankie played up Kate’s suspicions. “The timing seems coincidental.” Kate reappeared. Don’t feed her fantasy. Greg didn’t mean to start a telepathic conversation with Frankie but he had. I don’t know if it’s all fantasy. She replied. Greg could sense she was uncomfortable with her walls down. Technically telepathy was less revealing than mind reading because it was like a conversation. But if you weren’t careful, a stray thought meant to be personal would be overheard by whomever you were connected to at the time. “We’ve come to an agreement.” Kate said unaware of their telepathic chat. Greg cocked his head waiting for the details. “I’m going to try to be more open with Kate and Eric.” Frankie announced. “And if he’ll let me take him out to dinner, I’ll start there.” “He’s a good guy.” Kate endorsed her brother. “You’ll have fun.” “He has a certain charm. He just has so much of it.” “You don’t have to go out with him.” Kate didn’t want to force her into it. “He doesn’t need a pity date.” “I’m sure he has many choices. It’s just one night, right? If it leads to more great and if not, at least we spend time outside of the group.” Greg smiled. If you think that’s all he wants. “And I’m going to try harder by not trying so hard.” Kate added. Greg didn’t know how she would pull it off but as long as the key to success was to go easier on herself, he would be there to remind her.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


133

Frankie stood up. “I’ll go see if there’s even an option. He was pretty adamant last time.” She left. “Playing match maker is dangerous.” “I laugh in the face of danger.” Kate gave a mock giggle. “Real intimidating.” He jerked his head, “I thought you weren’t too keen on her for Eric.” “I’m not. He’ll get bored.” Her plan was to end the attraction not feed it. No challenge meant no interest. Greg hoped it worked that way. If not, things would only get tenser and that was the opposite direction of where they needed to go. They went back to the party and Eric and Frankie chatted alone on the patio. She had talked him into a date. Frankie was going to give it the old college try. Greg didn’t think it was worth the trouble but she could run if she wanted to. She stepped closer than her comfort zone allowed with a hand on his forearm. Maybe she was more interested in Eric as a date than Kate as a lab mouse. Holly was keeping her distance from Buster. He was sitting next to Henry with his head in his lap proud to serve his master well. Chris and Auggie walked up to Kate. “We need to get going.” Chris said. “Happy Birthday.” He gave Kate a big hug. Auggie repeated the warm wishes and the gesture and they were off. “Have you ever pulled him into a dream?” Greg asked. She had accidentally pulled Greg in before they really dated when she thought about him. He never minded until it dawned on him that he might not be the only person that crossed her mind as she fell asleep. “No.” Kate said. “You aren’t jealous?” Greg kissed her. “You know he’s why I had to step up.” “Then I owe him a thank you. And that was ages ago.” “And yet he’s still around all the time.” She kissed him softly. “I have everything a girl can want right here.” She wrapped her arms around him. She sighed. “Eric?” He guessed. “He’s scolding me.” She released him.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

“How can he be flirting with Frankie and annoying us at the same time?”

134

It was meant as a joke but Kate stiffened. “This is just an old habit to him. Like breathing. He doesn’t even mean to anymore.” She tried to pretend that Frankie and Eric getting friendlier didn’t bother her. “Are you really okay with them going out?” “As far as I can tell, she’s flattered and he’s just curious. And she isn’t in cahoots with Gran.” Kate avoided answering the question. By her words Greg knew she was reading their emotions to help evaluate the situation. “You don’t know that Holly is.” “Even Brian thinks it’s a possibility and he has a mind for that stuff. She shows up to apply for a job that doesn’t exist and then flirts with her new boss? And oh yeah, she just happens to have the power of invisibility?” “Yeah, you make a lot of good points.” Greg admitted it wasn’t just an act of over-protectiveness. “Try to remember that it’s incredibly hard for an outsider to get close to someone in your family.” “Aren’t we worth the trouble.” She mocked a pout and batted her eyes. “I’m immune to your enchantments.” He openly lied. It wasn’t a sin to lie if it was so obvious that no deception resulted. “If that were true, you would’ve never got through.” She had him there. “Pull me in tonight. I have a present.” The year before Greg had given her present to her in a dream and he liked the privacy. It’d make a good tradition. “Anytime you want.” It was true.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

Brothers United Having the weekend off revived Kate to her full health. She was in great spirits at school. Dancing was added to rehearsals and the boys needed extra instructions. Ms. Olga decided to keep the genders separate for a few weeks until they were more comfortable in their moves. They still met as a whole cast weekly to go through the play but with alternating nights of dance.

135

At their joint rehearsal the moment Greg dreaded arrived. Kevin was directed to kiss Kate. Not just kiss her but to lean her back as she kicked up a leg and lay one on her. They continued through the play and at the end he was to instructed to give her a big smackeroo as they all danced around in the final number. As soon as the scene was over Kate pushed him away to Kevin’s delight. “What? Aren’t I better than Greg?” He taunted. “In your dreams.” She hissed. “Better than Chris?” Greg didn’t wait outside for Kate. He didn’t want to get trapped by Regan again and he wasn’t going to leave Kate alone with Kevin lurking around. Meg was still talking to Miss Carter when Kate and Brad were ready. Seeing that it was going to be a while they went outside to let her get her final directions for the day. Ian was close behind. Kevin was there with Vincent ready to resume his torment. “If it isn’t the exquisite Kate.” “Leave her alone.” Brad backed him off. He had seen Kevin’s atrocious behavior and his rude comments were spending Brad’s self-restraint. In all fairness, Brad didn’t keep a large balance of restraint on hand at any given time. “She’s good. I can see why she has so many guys enchanted.” Greg didn’t realize he had lost his temper until he was wrestling Kevin. Kevin sped up, just like his cousin could, but Greg hindered him. Vincent was egging them on until Brad clocked him in the jaw and they tussled. Cool it. He heard Kate in his head. I’ll back him off. “No.” Greg grunted. It was an old-fashion non-metaphysical fistfight and it felt good.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


136

Coming out of the auditorium Chris jumped in and pulled Greg off Kevin. “Ignore him!” Chris didn’t know who started it but he guessed correctly that Kevin pushed Greg too far. He stood between them with a hand on each. Catching Greg’s eyes he shook his head that it wasn’t worth it. “Why are you mad?” Kevin spat out finally free from Greg’s hold. “I said she was good.” Chris sighed. He turned around with normal human speed and soundly socked Kevin. Kevin reeled back tasting the blood from his lip. “They doesn’t even go to this school.” He snarled and lunged at Chris. The altercation was reignited. Greg and Chris were squaring off with Kevin. Vincent had tackled Brad to the ground. Ian jumped on his back trying to help stop the fighting. “What is going on out here?” It was Sister Regina. Mr. Philips was with her. The boys all stood up but no one said a word. “JUG for you three.” “And detention for you three.” Mr. Philips echoed. “Sorry.” They mumbled without any integrity behind the word. Kevin would have a black eye for sure. Chris got in a good swing. Greg hid a smile knowing the teachers wouldn’t like to see it. If it wasn’t for the fact that Chris was defending Kate’s honor, Greg would’ve been more grateful for his help. Still he was plenty pleased to see the black eye. Vincent was gingerly holding his jaw. Greg, Brad, Ian and Chris went to clean up in the bathroom. “Great.” Chris said. “I’m going to get hell for helping you out.” “You didn’t have to. I had it under control.” Greg answered. “You don’t know Kevin. He doesn’t look like much but that guy can move fast.” Greg shrugged. It wasn’t a problem for him. “He’s a jerk.” Chris summarized. “This isn’t the last of it.” Brad said. “Father Frank will give us a lecture and of course our dads will have a say. They’ll be called before we get home.” Meg was unhappy to hear about the brawl but she withheld judgment. Before she took a jab at Stacey she would have been more critical. Since then she understood how someone could be provoked beyond better reasoning.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


137

Mr. Philips and Miss Carter had kept Meg behind to discuss Regan’s constant interference with her rehearsal performance. They were addressing Regan but they asked Meg to be extra patient and to ignore her as best she could until they had it under control. The scuffle was another downer on her starring moment. Greg drove his stepbrother and the girls home in silence. Andy took it well but Angela fumed. Once again her angelic Ian had been taken down a dark path happily following behind his big stepbrother. She sent Ian to his room so they could talk to Greg. “Start from the top.” She kept her voice controlled. “Kevin was talking crap about Kate and I just lost it. When his friend was cheering him on, Brad joined in. Chris came out and tried to stop it but when he heard what Kevin was saying he hit him, better than I did.” He didn’t mean to show he was impressed with a grin but his lips formed one of their own volition. “Then we all started in and Ian jumped in to help Brad.” “And are you proud of yourself?” Angela asked Andy. Andy was looking at Greg and then blinked up as he realized she was addressing him. “I have some pride. He was standing up for Kate. It isn’t like he gets in a fight every week.” Andy had his run-ins as a kid and accepted it as part of growing up. “I think it says something that Ian wanted to help. You do realize he wasn’t hurt or even in any real danger?” Angela frowned. “He didn’t have these problems before.” She had softened but that didn’t stop her from being a mother. “No, not this problem. But he got picked on. He doesn’t anymore and he won’t after this spreads through the campuses.” Andy winked at Greg. “Scuffling with seniors, he’ll probably be admired by his classmates.” Mercifully Andy didn’t know about the bout after the football game. That might have made it seem more habitual. And it was a good point that Ian would be idolized for his courage. “They called and said you have to serve JUG this weekend.” Andy noted. “Yes.” Greg had made his bed and he would lay in it. It was fair. “That’s good enough for me.” “You aren’t going to ground him?” Angela mildly challenged.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


138

“Not unless you want me to be mad he didn’t fight better. Sounds like he could have really wailed on that kid and he held back. I think that shows some maturity.” “You’re impossible.” She rolled her eyes and shook her head. “I got in a lot more trouble than he did and I think I turned out all right. Even found me a pretty woman to love me. They’ll live through a Saturday at school.” She dropped her head back thinking as the ceiling fan spun in mesmerizing methodic circles. “I don’t want Ian to become a bully.” “He’s not a bully. He is just learning to stand up for himself and others.” Greg and Andy said similar responses over each other and laughed. She had a slight grin as she accepted it wasn’t the end of the world. “Maybe some of these things are part of growing up. Isn’t getting grounded for it part of it as well. I got in a catfight or two and I had to give up a social life for a couple of weeks as a consequence.” “That hardly seems fair to ground Ian if I’m not.” Greg gave his puppy-dog face. He had only used on his father and Kate but she was family. It was a good stress test to see how it would work. “I want to hear more about these catfights you mentioned.” Andy requested of Angela. “Any mud or jell-o involved?” “With that, I’ll be leaving you.” Greg got up and went to sleep. He pulled Kate into his dreams to check in on her. “I was thinking the same thing.” She admitted. He hugged her. “I didn’t mean to lose it.” “It’s okay. We all get pushed past our limits.” She kissed his sore lip. “Does it hurt?” “Not when you do that.” It stung a little but he wasn’t going to let it interfere with some womanly comfort. She kissed him again. “What am I going to do with you?” “Keep on doing the same.” He was living through the ache for the enjoyment. “Did you get grounded?” “Not at all. And Angela loosened up some.” He ran his lips over hers gently. “I always liked her. See, I can accept new people.”

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


139

Greg rolled his eyes. Who his father married was less impacting on her life than who Eric or Jim dated. It was hardly proof to the contrary.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM
 J.U.G.

140

Saturday was a cloudy day. Greg hoped it would rain so that they wouldn’t have to do yard work for JUG. He left the house early with Ian and on the way he sensed Tyler’s presence and that time he tailed them. “Great.” He mumbled. Having Ian with him was as bad as having Kate. He reached out for Eric’s mind. Tyler is around. He’s following us to school. Why are you going to school? Isn’t it Saturday? Eric must have been waking up because his mind was groggy to hear. I got JUG. Realizing Eric wouldn’t understand what he meant he clarified. It’s detention. And Ian and Brad will be there as well. Getting up now. I’ll get Matt and Brian. Try to let us sleep in next time. Is anyone with him? Maybe Deborah. I’m not sure. When Greg got to school he pulled Father Francis aside and told him about Tyler. The head master decided to keep them inside for the whole of the day. They didn’t escape manual labor. The kitchen counters were in the process of being retiled and they were asked to help. It was better than copying verses from the Bible, which they did for an hour. By noon Father Francis released them from their bondage after Greg assured him the Thomas brothers were there. Eric, Matt and Brian waited by their cars. “He was here and he’s still nearby.” Eric pointed to a note left on Greg’s windshield. “Meet us at the bottom tennis courts.” Greg read. He showed it to Matt and Eric. “What is that?” Ian asked. “Ian, I’m going to take you home.” Brian said. “Why?” Ian could tell it wasn’t a good omen and he didn’t want to leave his big brother. “Take him to the In & Out Burger on Main. We’ll meet you there. This won’t take long.” Greg turned to Ian. “Please just do this for me and we can’t tell your mom or my dad.” “Okay.” Ian would do anything for Greg. They were closer than ever after the shared fight and resulting punishment.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

Brian drove off and the others walked further down the hill to the last tennis courts. “We wanted to talk alone.” Tyler said to Greg. “Stay here.” Greg requested. “Let’s find out what they want.”

141

His friends hung back but stayed in view. Greg walked through the fence gate. “Okay, they aren’t going further than that.” Empathically Greg felt Eric and Matt mind reading. They were listening in on Tyler and Deborah. “We get that you aren’t interested in exploring the full potential of your gift but we still need your help. We can make it worth your while.” Deborah tried to tempt Greg’s greed. “Not interested.” Greg shook his head. “If we can’t offer you a reward, we will resort to forcing your hand.” Tyler added with venom. “Who’s the little kid?” “Leave him out of this.” Greg snapped. His heart leapt to his throat. “We want to. Believe us.” Deborah played good cop to Tyler’s bad cop. Eric joined them on the court. “The thing is, we don’t share resources and we don’t take kindly to threats.” “He can read minds like Frankie and her brother.” Tyler said to Deborah. “Oh, he can do more than that.” Deborah added. “He can move things, block our skills and act very quickly.” Tyler grinned. “Can you tell which one he is?” “No.” She smiled. “But I understand Eric is the most outspoken of the two, if I were to take a guess. I think he’s the boss.” Eric didn’t show a sign that their taunting worked. He’d be a tough man to play poker against. They knew his name and more. Hearing that they had inside information couldn’t have been any more comforting to Eric as it had been to Greg but Eric’s face didn’t betray a hint of concern. Tyler spoke to Greg. “This is our last request. The next time you won’t have a choice.” “Leave and never darken the streets of our town again.” Eric warned. Matt and Brad had walked onto the court.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


142

“See how he calls in his back up without even speaking.” Deborah felt affirmed. “We’ll be seeing you.” She waved good-bye as if she was leaving a social get together. They sensed them leaving. “We need to talk to Frankie and Henry now.” Matt said. “This is not good.” After collecting Ian and Brian, they dropped Ian off and went to meet the rest of the team. They gathered in the living room to discuss the encounter. “Do you want the bad news or the really bad news?” Matt questioned. Frankie and Henry glanced at each other and braced for both. “They have an idea of who we are and what we can do. It seems they have found Gran who was too willing to give them some intelligence on us.” Eric continued. “Luckily Gran has a limited understanding of what we can do.” “And they want to get some guy named Guido out of prison.” Matt finished. Frankie and Henry went pale white. “Guido isn’t his real name. It’s Eugene Antonio and he was the leader of the group we helped catch about a year ago.” Henry wasn’t worried. He was terrified. “He was the mastermind and his gift is very interesting. He can produce replicas of himself. They can’t do anything. They are only sophisticated shadows but you can’t tell which is the real Guido. He’s a whole new kind of wicked.” “They said they would force my hand. Commented on who Ian was to me in a threatening way.” Greg added. “Damn.” Frankie stood up and paced. “We’ll help keep an eye on him. We can’t let them get Guido out. He’s the worst kind of bad news. He started with robbing banks but moved on to smuggling. He smuggled guns and drugs and he was working on selling information to other interested parties. An organized crime syndicate was seeking them out to help them eliminate their competition in Chicago.” “Is there any chance he can get out?” Meg asked. “He’s in a top security prison in Delano. He might be able to cause some trouble with his talent but it isn’t enough to escape. Not without help. We told the police but they didn’t believe us and of course Guido wasn’t going to give a command performance.” Henry answered. “How do you think they found your grandmother?” Frankie wondered.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

“Hell if I know.” Eric was puzzled. “But that was what they were thinking when they started running down my skills.” “You said she got some help last year?” Frankie was flipping through her notes. “Someone named Maria.” “Marie.” Eric and Matt corrected in unison.

143

“She didn’t age and could cloud your thinking.” Frankie found her note. “I wonder if they are part of a club. There are a few and most are open about their members and don’t do much other than gossip about things they can’t with normal society. But there’s one support group of women who meet infrequently and are very selective and secretive. If they’re looking for more help, Deborah might have joined to seek out potential recruits.” “I remember them. They call themselves the Wonder Women.” Henry rolled his eyes at the outlandish name. “We need to keep a watchful eye on Ian. He doesn’t have any skills and they would have no problem abducting him.” Frankie sighed. “And your parents and family need to be informed of the situation.” Greg nodded. He didn’t want to get them involved but the security status had been amped up. They needed to know that Ian couldn’t be left alone. “Duplicates himself.” Eric mused. “Kate, why don’t you pay this guy a visit?” “What?” She yelped. “You already have a clone.” “There can never be too many of us. That would be a useful thing to do. Maybe one of you guys can take her to see him.” He said to Frankie and Henry. “I’d love to except for two reasons. One, they don’t know we are helping you guys, or least they aren’t sure and I’d like to keep it that way. And two, we would need him to do it in front of Kate and I don’t see him complying willingly.” Frankie responded. Henry shrugged. “Last time I visited him he didn’t come to meet me. He only sent a duplicate. If he did that again…” “I don’t want to go see some gangster in prison.” Kate was inflexible.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


144

“You wouldn’t have to be in the room. Just near the room.” Matt kind of liked the idea. “But we’ll keep that in the back pocket for now.” Kate glared at her brothers. “You know what I think would be helpful?” Frankie was irked. “If you got over your aversion to me and started helping us build up some more defenses. This is going to get worse before it gets better and maybe you just need to suck it up and figure out how to share with us.” “Back off.” Eric snapped. “We should keep trying.” Kate agreed. She had been looking better after some time off from the training. It was a sure way to wear her out again. “No.” Eric put his foot down. “She looked sickly all the time. This is the best I have seen her in weeks and she doesn’t need to push herself if it is going to jeopardize her health.” “Eric, I want to try. I’ll be careful.” Kate promised. “If you start looking bad again you stop.” He commanded. Frankie treaded on thin ice.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

Old Circle, New Problem

145

They all reorganized at Kate’s house. Jim was home and was shocked to see the whole crew walk in with three new comers, Brad, Henry and Frankie. He didn’t need to be eased into the topic. Their faces told enough that he knew if it wasn’t about Gran it was in the general area. “We need to call everyone together.” Eric said. Andy left Angela and Ian at home until he got the full story. Sandy and Ron were there within minutes. It didn’t take Gerard, Ellen and Father Francis long to arrive from their various locations. Gerard had taught Frankie and Henry when they were at St. Iggy’s. He wasn’t wholly surprised to see them knowing they had their skills nor was he surprised that they were gathering again. Gerard felt that Gran was too invested to walk away from her mission for good. Brad’s presence caught him slightly off guard but the fact that he was very tight with Kate, Greg and Meg counterbalanced it immediately. After hearing the whole story Andy went to get Angela and Ian. She was beside herself with fear. “So these people want to hurt Ian?” He was watching TV with Buster and Zuzu in Jim’s den. “They want to force Greg’s hand.” Frankie said. “They see Ian as leverage.” “Ian isn’t leverage!” “But we can’t be sure it will be him. It could be any of us or even other people close to Greg.” Sandy hadn’t been that despondent since their meetings after Gran’s attacks. “Ian needs to be guarded since he’s young and unskilled. The rest of us can reach out and contact each other. He’s blind in this world.” Brian said. “Is he okay now? Should I go get him?” Angela was frightened and just received more information about Andy’s secret world than she bargained for. “He’s safe.” Greg promised. “And Buster and Zuzu will be able to tell us if anyone slipped past our senses.” “He should know that he has to be aware of his surroundings. He doesn’t need to know the whole situation, it’s better if he doesn’t.” Henry suggested. “Kate, do you think you can teach him any skills.” Frankie asked.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


146

“He’s only fourteen.” Andy said knowing that they didn’t usually start showing for a couple more years. “Oh.” Frankie didn’t know that. “It may still work.” The phone rang and Jim checked his watch. “Shoot, I forgot I had a date.” He picked it up. “Hi. We’re going to have to reschedule. Tomorrow sounds great.” He hung up the phone. “Was that Holly?” Kate had a displeased face. “Yes.” He didn’t want to discuss it in front of everyone, especially his ex-wife, Sandy. And Kate didn’t like her. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out her opinion. “She may be a plant by Gran. And she can turn invisible.” Kate dropped her two bombs. “What?” Jim was floored. “Why do you think that?” Kate vanished and reappeared. “Zuzu caught her. The timing is awfully convenient and clearly Gran hasn’t just been sitting around knitting.” He dropped his head and stared at the tiled floor. “I really don’t need to worry about that again.” Kate vanished again. “Okay, don’t.” Her disembodied voice sassed. “Kate,” Gerard spoke up, “Do you think it’s okay that you’re picking up so many skills?” She materialized again. “Sure. Why not?” “Because skills can overtake people if they aren’t careful.” Frankie interrupted. “It had crossed my mind as well. Like with your grandmother, she has lost herself to her power. I don’t think having many skills means it will happen to you but you are at greater risk. Practicing should help keep things in balance.” “About this training,” Ron had been silent until that point, “You kids weren’t going to let us in on this?” “We wanted to know the whole story first and now we do and so we’re here.” Matt remarked protecting Greg. They had wanted to involve everyone from the get go. Ron grunted. It was clear he didn’t like the kids starting their own super friends group without their parents’ knowledge. “What about recruiting ourselves?” Father Francis suggested.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


147

“We know some people that we can call on if things escalate.” Henry was matter of fact. “You know that. But they don’t live in town and they can’t come here indefinitely.” “I mean if Kate can teach Brad, why not others?” The priest let the idea sink in. “Well, it only works if she is close to them.” Frankie hid her own frustration on the topic fairly well. “Who else are you close to?” Father Francis asked. “What about Dave?” “I think I could do that.” Kate was close to Dave. They had gone on a date when she first started St. Iggy’s. He was Meg’s brother and roomed with Brian at school. “I’ll try first.” Brian offered. “I’m not as good as you but I’m a heck of a lot closer to him. And he can see like Meg, so he already has the glitch.” “What about Lindsay?” Brad asked knowing they hung out. “Do you really want to get Lindsay involved in this mess?” Meg asked. “I don’t know about her.” Kate confessed. “We’re friends but not really tight.” “Chris.” Eric suggested. “You can’t tell me you couldn’t with Chris.” Greg rolled his eyes. He was thinking the same thing but didn’t mention it because he hated that she was connected to him. “Probably.” Kate agreed. She averted her eyes from Greg who had a sour look. “We should try to teach Ian telepathy at least. He may be too young but it would be very helpful.” Henry broke the awkward moment. “And he’s out of the school play and no baseball for him.” Angela added. “He’s not going anywhere but school and home.” “You can’t do that.” Greg protested. “He can’t be treated like a prisoner.” “We’ll be at rehearsals and baseball with him.” Brad threw in his support as always. “We won’t let anyone get near him.” “No way.” Angela rejected their compromise. “Angela, both those things are good for Ian in the bigger picture. And we don’t want to scare him to death. He’ll already have a lot on his plate to know he has to be careful and learn telepathy.” Andy hugged her. “We’ll get through this.”

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


148

“I agree with Angela.” Sandy put in her two cents. “I was going crazy last year when Gran was after Kate.” “What happened last year?” Angela had only heard there was some emergency. She hadn’t tied it to the matter at hand. “My mother wasn’t happy to learn I wasn’t Kate’s biological father.” Ron’s guilt would never be completely erased. “She terrorized her until my father put his foot down.” He saw that she wanted details. “By terrorized I mean she tried to drown her and shoot her, little things that really tear the family apart.” Angela paled. “What do you think about Ian doing these extracurricular activities?” Ron had lived through the same thing Sandy had watching their daughter be put in repetitive danger and he was as brave as Andy. “I think we stick together and change our lives as little as possible. We’re stronger than you think.” Ron believed in his family and friends. He had seen them do remarkable things even for remarkable people. “On one condition,” Angela bargained, “I want to learn telepathy as well.” “It isn’t that simple. None of the adults have learned anything new.” Gerard tried to be gentle. “And you don’t have any experiencing with these things.” “At least try.” She was determined. Kate closed her eyes and reached out to Angela. “Can you feel that?” “What?” Angela wasn’t expecting Kate to try right away. “Close your eyes and see if you can feel my presence.” Kate ordered. “Perhaps it will help if we black out her senses.” Greg figured it would keep out the distractions. “Ready?” Angela nodded. A minute passed and then she said too loudly, “I can feel something.” Just think it. Kate mentally sent to her. She nodded again. Another minute passed and Andy said, “I heard something.” “Do you still hear it?” Kate inquired. “Fainter. It’s more like a general idea rather than a sentence.” Andy explained.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

Greg released Angela from her blackness.

149

“Wow.” Angela said. “At first it was like having a conversation with Kate but she explained that was because of her skills. Then she told me to reach out to Andy and I think it worked.” “It did.” Andy gave her shoulders a squeeze. Frankie got up from her seat and walked off. Eric followed. Kate sighed. She would have to find away to let down her wall with Frankie. Henry mouthed for Kate not to worry about it but that didn’t stop her worrying. “We’ll practice.” The momentary success eased Angela’s fears. Greg got Ian and they all explained that there was a gang that was causing trouble for Greg, Brad, Kate and Meg. They didn’t to tell him the true story. They said that he needed to be aware of his environment and that Kate was going to try to teach him how to contact them with his mind. Ian sat with all the adults staring at him with plastic smiles on their faces. Greg registered that he had grown up a bit over the last few months. He was always courageous. He took the hit from the ball machine and got back in before long. Ian was more than that now. He was stronger from the baseball and more confident from school and the play. The new family was good for him. Kate went through the same exercise with Ian and he picked it up in a heartbeat. He immediately reached Greg and his mother without trouble. Angela felt a great sense of relief knowing he could contact her instantly if something went wrong. Greg and Kate went to find Frankie and Eric. They were sitting in the seldom-used living room chatting and laughing about nothing important. She was leaning on Eric’s shoulder a little. “Frankie, do you want to try again?” Kate offered. “Maybe we could hang out. It would help if we tried to be friends first.” She glanced at Eric. “I know I come off as a task master sometimes and that doesn’t help.” Kate’s eyes narrowed on Eric. They were probably having a silent exchange. “He thinks he knows everything. Don’t listen to him.” Kate joked. Greg guessed he had told her to wait. Once a protective monster, always a protective monster. “Buster.” She called for the dog, who immediately ran in with Zuzu at his feet. “Ready?”

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


150

Greg could see it wasn’t as simple for Kate to empathize with Frankie as it was with Angela and Ian. She had always liked Angela from when she met her after the Dodger game the year before and you couldn’t help but like Ian. He was such a sweet kid. Whatever Kate was doing with Frankie was taking a greater toll. “Come on Kate, I think you’ve done enough for the day.” Eric saw her struggling to empathize with Frankie. He didn’t think it was worth it. “Wait.” Frankie held up her hand. “I think it’s working.” “Stop that!” Eric almost shouted. “Okay.” Frankie frowned and was stunned by the abrupt command. “Why did you do that? Who did that?” Eric looked back and forth at Kate and Greg. Neither seemed to understand what he was talking about. “Who was blacking me out?” “It wasn’t me.” Greg said. “Maybe it was me.” Kate wasn’t sure. “I didn’t mean to.” “Have you ever accidentally used a skill before?” Frankie clicked back into her sterile persona. “Dreaming, when I first learned it. But my dad said that happens.” Kate told her. “But all skills start off like that.” “What about when you spoke to Chris telepathically?” Greg reminded her. “Oh yeah.” “Maybe we are practicing too much if they are happening on their own. Or it can be a side affect of having so many rolling around in your head.” Frankie was back to business as usual. “Sorry. I don’t mean to always wear the lab coat. Forget I said anything and we’ll just keep an eye on it.” Kate smiled. “Thanks.” “And we’ll still hang out. It can’t hurt.” Frankie patted Buster’s head. “Sounds fun.” Kate wasn’t convincing but she was willing to put in the effort after all Frankie and Henry had done for them. “Great. Why don’t the four of us have dinner next Friday, on me?” Eric had his wicked grin on. He had been distant with Frankie for a while but she had warmed up. “It would probably be better if it was a girls night out.” Frankie cocked her head.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


151

As soon as Eric was interested again, Frankie pulled away. It was an upsetting pattern and Greg hoped he was reading too much into it. “Nonsense.” Eric wouldn’t have it. “We can all go.” Kate preferred to have buffers and Greg and Eric were the best she could think of. “Fine.” Frankie finally agreed. “It was working. Wasn’t it Buster?” She had her most sincere smile. Frankie couldn’t hide her pleasure that they were able to bypass the wall even if the results were only mediocre. Baby steps Greg mentally warned without intending to. Frankie nodded that she heard and understood.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM
 Double Date

152

School was a reminder that things go on even when a crisis is on the verge of exploding. Their first quarter grades were returned and Greg was pulling A’s in every class but AP Chemistry where he was getting a B. Kate was close behind matching his grades except for a B in AP History. She was particularly proud of her A in English. Rehearsals were going strong. They were learning dances and getting better at the songs. Olga was a great teacher and even the clumsiest of students were picking up the steps before long. Kate was her favorite student from St. Iggy’s. They hit it off right away. The band was flawless and only showed because their music was needed and in case they made any changes or added in alternative songs that later productions had acquired from other Gilbert and Sullivan musicals. The teachers kept that option to be finalized at a later date when they had the core of the performance perfected. Kevin was still antagonistic but it seemed unimportant given everything that was going on in Greg’s personal life. He still cringed every time Kevin kissed Kate. Greg wished there was some way to change that arrangement. He didn’t see why it had to be Kate. Any of Mabel’s sisters from the play would do without disturbing the plot but that was the traditional pairing. The props and scenes were being worked on the days that rehearsal wasn’t scheduled. Each rehearsal they found new props and backgrounds in partial development. The best part was there was no contact with Jeff, who led the backstage work. In addition to Kevin’s naturally irksome personality, Regan’s attitude kept rehearsals from being fun. Her inner diva was released and untamable. She was the most demanding of all the performers. She uncompromisingly commented on Meg’s delivery. The teachers’ patience wore thin, Olga’s most notably. Regan was ignorant to that fact. She was ignorant to most things outside her own excellence. It gave them something to talk about at dinner with Eric and Frankie. Eric selected the fish house on the pier. It was the same place Greg took Kate on their first official date. Being that it was a spacious restaurant the tables were private enough to have conversations even on the most sensitive topics it was always a good choice.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

“She’s turning into a nightmare. I swear that Meg is going to hit Regan if she doesn’t stop critiquing her every line.” Kate said as she poked her salad with her fork. “Meg doesn’t seem the type to lose her temper.” Frankie remarked thinking that Meg was too docile to be an instigator. “You would think so but she hit Stacey last year.” Kate told her.

153

“But then again, I could be wrong.” Frankie had guessed correctly that the Kate’s brothers were temperamental. She hadn’t accounted for Meg, who was always so demure, to have a hidden tempest within. Eric updated Frankie on the incident. “Stacey was chasing Greg for months and she wasn’t happy to lose him to Kate. So she refocused on Brian even though he was starting to see Meg. It almost worked until she lost a tennis match to Kate and hit her in the locker room.” “Someone hit Kate and you didn’t do anything about it?” “I wasn’t there.” Eric didn’t know how he would’ve taken it if he had been. He didn’t think he would hit a girl but it would have taken every ounce of self-control to resist the urge. “Meg always came down on us for our irritability, especially Brian because she likes him. He hides it better but we all get too cautious about Kate.” Kate coughed. “Too cautious? I believe you coined the phrase protective monsters.” Greg laughed. “I was trying to hide my faults here. Geez, Kate, give a guy a break.” He wasn’t really hurt. If it is possible to be more proud of ones foibles than their virtues, Eric was. “As Kate has just proven, we all have tempers.” He winked at his sister. “So when Stacey started blogging all kinds of lies about Kate, Meg started boiling. I saw it brewing. Say what you will about my bad temper but it doesn’t boil ever.” Greg didn’t know if that was true. It was like water versus iron. One had a much lower boiling point. On the flip side, it also cooled down quicker afterwards. Eric continued. “After we learned that Gran was using that website to get information on where Kate would be, we all reached our limits. The kids ran into Stacey at the pier.” Greg ignored his use of the word “kids.” Eric was only four years older than them but Matt and him jumped between the “adults” and “kids” groups easily as it suited their immediate need.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

“I don’t remember what Stacey said to provoke Meg.” “That Brad and I slept with Kate to get her to help us cheat on math.” Greg filled in the hole.

154

“That was it. Good thing I wasn’t there.” Eric made a disgusted face and then shook it off. No amount of self-restraint could have held him back. “And Meg of all people punched Stacey right in the nose.” “It was hysterical.” Kate finished up. “At first, I thought I hit her. I was ready to but Meg beat me to it.” “You guys really know how to stick tight.” “Not always.” Kate glanced at Eric. “But when the chips are against us we know what really matters.” She was thinking about when Eric and Matt were fighting over Marie. “And that’s what counts.” Frankie smiled. “You really are a astonishing group.” “We aren’t going to talk shop.” Eric gently reminded her. “Of course not. I mean aside from the phenomenal metaphysical stuff, you really do understand each other well, the good and the not so good.” “What makes you such a hard nut to crack?” Greg asked at Eric’s mental encouragement. Frankie glanced at Eric suspecting as much. “It’ll sound like shop talk.” “I’ll allow it. If it is too much, we’ll change the topic.” Eric waved his hand for her to proceed cautiously. “Like Kate, I’ve built up walls. That’s why she probably has a harder time empathizing with me. I don’t know why Kate would have any considering the great talents of her controlling brothers.” Frankie said sarcastically. “In my case, you grow up in a family that can read your mind you get a little tired of it. Half the time I have two levels of consciousness floating around my head. One that I keep out front for mind readers and one that I guess is like everyone else’s.” “I can see that. When I was annoyed at Matt last year, I shut him out completely. Usually it is like he’s omnipresent. Even now I can tell you he’s watching some television show that he thinks isn’t very entertaining.” “Henry is working on the computer. Or playing one of those on line games. He’s such a nerd sometimes.” She smiled. “But I love him.”

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

“Where are your parents?” Kate didn’t know if she was intruding into personal space.

155

“Our father retired early and they spend most of their time traveling. They have been going crosscountry in a camper for the last couple of months. After the holidays they are going to Australia for six months. He was a cop and Henry and I are very glad he retired even if they’re never home.” After their meal they strolled around the pier. It helped Kate to see Frankie’s friendlier side and Greg hoped it was the beginning of the end. Aren’t you going to hold Kate’s hand? Eric’s thought popped into Greg’s mind. Is that allowed? If you do, then it won’t seem so bad when I do. Whoring out your sister? Greg joked. Use the word whore in the same sentence with Kate again and I’ll teach you a lesson you won’t soon forget. Eric was proving his boiling point was at a lower temperature. I don’t know if I feel like holding her hand. It may lead to hugging or worse. She may expect me to kiss her, possibly with an open mouth. Greg jabbed Eric. You’re killing me Greg. I need your help but you’re eliciting the big brother in me. Eric was torn between winning ground with Frankie and being a protective monster. Greg hid his smile. He put his arm around Kate. How’s that? Tonight, when you sleep, I’m coming to get you. Eric poorly threatened. “Greg, are you only doing that because Chris is here?” Kate asked. “Where?” Sure enough, Chris and Auggie were heading out of the theater with two girls from Santa Katrina. It was a small town and it was one of the favorite hangouts for all ages. “He still doesn’t let you take her out without chaperoning.” Chris teased Greg seeing the two couples. “I’m a protective monster.” It was Eric’s official catch phrase. “Don’t you guys have a football game tonight?” Greg tried not to sound disappointed that they ran into them. “It was an away game. We didn’t feel like traveling.” Auggie answered.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


156

Frankie had forgotten her no-shop-agreement and was eyeing Chris. She remembered his name from the family discussion the previous weekend. “Hi, I’m Frankie.” They introduced themselves and shook hands. After a brief chat they parted ways. “So that’s the Chris you guys were talking about?” Frankie turned back as they other couples walked off. “That’s him. Kate and him use to date.” Eric glanced at Greg to check sensitivity levels. “Oh, that’s why you weren’t excited to add him to the team.” Frankie got it. “They’re friends.” Kate naively countered. “Are you guys going to talk to him about it?” “No shop talk.” Eric corrected and picked up her hand in a fairly casual move. She smiled. Greg was shocked. Maybe every girl did like Eric. He hadn’t seen the signs but she wasn’t dropping his hand. Even Kate dropped his hand the first time he held hers and she liked him. Maybe it was a bad sign. Maybe it meant that Frankie was so unconcerned about Eric that it didn’t even register as a move. Greg pulled Eric into his dream that night. “Are you looking to open a can of whoop-ass?” Eric asked. “No.” Greg furrowed his brows in confusion. “For not being helpful after dinner?” Greg laughed. “No. I just wanted to know how things went and I couldn’t ask tomorrow in front of your mind-reading girlfriend.” “I only got a hug. You have to go slow with those walled-up types. How did you get Kate to kiss you?” “She flirted shamelessly with me.” “I find that hard to believe. If I recall she was rather irked with you at the time.” Eric had learned he kissed Kate because it had annoyed her. It was the confusion that annoyed her and not the romance. “That was a show for you. Afterwards at her house she hid the remote, which somehow led to a tickle fight and we bumped heads. When I was checking on her bump I just kissed her.” Greg remembered it well. It was such a good memory, fun and scary.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

“Nice. You had to knock her out first?” “At least I got a kiss and we hadn’t even gone on a date.” “What about the ball game?”

157

“Well, it wasn’t a real date. Our dads were there. I did pecked her on the cheek and I tried to hold her hand but she wouldn’t have it.” “Good for her.” Eric still had brotherly instincts. “Eric, we’ve been dating for almost a year. How can you still say that?” “You were a cheeky bastard.” Greg smirked because it was true. “Are you going to take Frankie out again?” “I didn’t ask. She gave me the I-had-a-nice-time line. I couldn’t tell if it was a brush off.” “Can’t you read her mind?” “Yeah, but I didn’t then, too much information. And I don’t want to play it like that. Why mind read with people you’re close to. You may as well use telepathy or old fashion conversation.” “True.” Greg thought about it. “I knew Kate liked me because I could see through her eyes. I guess that was why I was so cocky but it was really scary to get close knowing.” “Close is hard. Plus Frankie’s last relationship ended poorly.” Eric looked down. “Do they ever end well? The fact they ended is a bad sign.” “She dated Tyler.” Eric lifted his eyes to see Greg’s reaction. It was expressionless. “He was thinking about it when he was talking to you at your school. She doesn’t know I know.” Greg didn’t like hearing that but if it was in the past he didn’t see a need to make a judgment call. She was instrumental in arresting much of his gang and his instincts trusted her. “Frankie is warming up.” Greg tried to sound encouraging. “Because I was cooling down. It can be amusing but something has to change for us to synch up.”

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

Boot Camp Recruit

158

Thanksgiving break arrived. Kate and Jim went to see Beth’s family in San Louis Obispo. They stayed the full weekend. It was the longest time that Greg had been separated from Kate. By Friday he missed her more than he cared to admit and there were two full days left. Brad and Eric were around to keep him preoccupied but he still noticed she wasn’t there. He took Ian to the cages Friday afternoon. Baseball tryouts would be right after the holidays and Ian needed to be ready. He did the brave thing and invited Chris to join them. Afterwards Chris and Greg caught the latest blockbuster action film. It was weird hanging out with Chris. They were pals but they never spent time to develop a friendship beyond baseball camp. It was their first man-date. “You miss Kate a lot.” Chris could read Greg as well as Brad or Eric. “I’ve gotten use to her. You kind of have a thing for her.” It wasn’t a question. “I guess. I don’t know why. I would never do anything about it.” “You would.” “I wouldn’t. She’s yours and even if you guys broke up she would be heartbroken long after we went our separate ways to college.” Chris had thought it out to that potential. “We aren’t going to break up.” They were destined. “There’s something special about her.” Greg wondered if her empathy drew men to her. She was so shy most guys shouldn’t notice her but they did. “You’re a hero type and Katie is a damsel in constant distress.” “She does get into a lot of trouble.” “About that trouble,” Greg didn’t know how to broach the topic and it seemed like a good segue, “there are some reasons for that.” “Is that why her brothers are always around and so intimidating?” Greg laughed. “I think you meant irritating. And don’t say stuff like that in front of Eric. It only feeds his inner monster.” “Like I ever see him.” “You may see more of him.”

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

“What are you driving at?” Chris questioned. “Remember at your winter dance last year?”

159

“How can I forget? The twins showed up and told me some cock and bull story about falling into the pool.” It was the first time he called it a story. It was the first time he ever mentioned it around Greg without said twins in the vicinity. “It was a story.” “As was the elevator and the mugger in San Francisco.” “How much do you know?” “Just that Kate hates lying to me. Sometimes I hear her in my head.” She is telepathic. Greg sent to him. “I have wondered the same. She’s something.” Chris had missed that Greg hadn’t spoken out loud. Oddly, he didn’t take the revelation with disbelief. And so am I. Chris stared dumbfounded realizing that no one spoke, in the traditional sense of the word. “Last year Katie was in a lot of trouble. She found out that she was Jim’s daughter and not Ron’s. Ron is the father of Brian and the twins.” “Should you be telling me this?” Chris worried it was too personal to share. “You have to know it all.” Greg proceeded. He explained how their grandmother tried to hurt Kate and was the real reason she was tossed in the pool. “She almost drowned?” Chris was shaken. “She hid it so well. It was a lie but I didn’t suspect the truth was so dastardly.” “Aside from the telepathy, there are other things that are going on.” He updated Chris on their many skills. Then he finished the story about Gran other attacks. “You guys stopped a bullet?” Greg was perplexed that he believed the story with an easy acceptance of paranormal powers. “It took five of us. We combined speed with telekinesis and had pure adrenaline coursing through our veins.” “Something’s going wrong again?”

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


160

“Not with Kate. This time it’s my problem.” Greg reminded him of camp and how he had trouble the last week. He told him about his uncle and aunt trying to break some villain out of jail and wanting his help. Chris was taking it all evenly, too evenly. He was a cooler head than Greg but if Greg hadn’t known about the crazy world of metaphysics he would have freaked to hear anything. If he even believed any of it. “And you need my help somehow?” “Well, I would like it and you have a choice but I can’t just ask anyone.” “You’re asking me because I can mimic people?” “What?” “Why am I here?” Chris had spoken too quickly. “Mimic people?” “I jumped the gun. Finish up what you’re talking about.” “You mimic people? How come Katie doesn’t know you do something?” Greg didn’t know how that slipped by her. Unless she sensed it before she knew what to look for and never reconsidered it. “I don’t tell people. Do you often tell people?” “But she can tell when someone has something. How did you hide that? What is that?” Chris slowing started to morph. His hair lightened from black to brown and his eyes from brown to blue. All his features reshaped. After a minute he was identical to Greg. “Oh, you have to do that for Eric and Matt.” Greg laughed at the idea of being able to fool them. “I don’t think so.” Chris returned to his usual appearance. “I left out a major detail. Katie can learn skills, learn and teach actually. Turns out she can only do this to people she’s close to and even though Brad doesn’t have any of these glitches, he’s learning them because he’s a good friend. Your name came up because obviously,” Greg rolled his eyes, “you’re close to Kate and she would be able to teach you. This is dangerous stuff though, so if you aren’t interested…” Chris absorbed the gist of the offer. “You want me to join up?”

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


161

“We have a weekly boot camp on Saturdays. Some former students and friends of Father Francis are helping us develop and strategize. If you don’t want to, I totally understand but you can’t ever repeat anything we discussed here.” It was fortunate that Chris had a skill. He’d keep it secret to keep his secret. “To who?” He huffed out. “So you’re asking me to help you because I’m close to Kate?” Chris understood the connection he had with Kate was key. “I’m not eager to ask anyone to enlist. It isn’t safe but you’re on the short list because you’re close to Katie.” “Not because we’re friends.” “We are friends.” Greg was honest. Chris half expected Greg to dodge it. “We are but you hate me being near Kate.” Greg didn’t think he was obvious about it. Then he remembered his uncharacteristic snap during the summer. Even without that, there were a few signs. “Because you dated and I get jealous.” Greg hated saying it but he had to be candid. He was asking a lot of Chris. “And I know you wouldn’t make a move but the fact that you two still have a strong connection isn’t comforting.” “What do you think this Tyler guy is going to do?” “He mentioned forcing my hand and using Ian to do it.” Chris rubbed his palm over his right eye. “And how do you stop this?” “I don’t know. Either we get them to lose interest or catch them in the act of breaking this guy out. Get them arrested.” “I’m interested.” Chris said after taking a long moment to consider it. “What do I have to do?” “We aren’t meeting this week because of everyone visiting or being visited by family. If you can come with me next Saturday, that would be the first step.” “If you can do all these things, how did you not knock out Kevin?” “Well, we don’t flaunt it. And he can move fast. Just like Stacey could. Which we all can now because Katie learned her trick when she played her at tennis.” “Next Saturday then.” Chris confirmed. “Gives you time to change your mind. I’ll understand if you do.”

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

Greg missed Kate so much after Saturday that he couldn’t wait for her return on Sunday. He pulled her into a dream just to say hi but that was about all they said.

162

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM
 Understudy

163

Between school, the musical, basketball and weekend boot camp, Greg was booked almost every minute of every day. Coach Evans worked practice around the rehearsals schedule. He frequently joked that he looked forward to the day they were all his again. He didn’t like sharing. Rehearsals were all inclusive since they had the basic dances down. The first rehearsal after Thanksgiving break was chaotic. Even the teachers were unfocused. It went long as they ran through the musical more as a refresher than with any real constructive analysis. Only Regan seemed to be ready for critical commentary. Miss Carter did her best to keep her at bay. Olga was not as indulgent. Half way through the second act Olga pulled Regan aside to have a private chat. Regan returned in a huff and kept her opinions to herself for the rest of the evening. AP Chemistry had a lab on Thursday before their second rehearsal. It was more complicated than usual and Greg, Brad, Meg and Kate didn’t have time to change out of their uniforms before going to rehearsal. It was the first time they weren’t able to change. For all the advantages St. Iggy’s had over the public school, smaller classes, beautiful campus, better facilities – uniforms were the major disadvantage. “Nice outfit.” Regan sneered at Meg. “Is that your Mabel costume?” “I like them.” Chris smiled at Kate and Meg. “You look scholarly.” Kate and Meg blushed. Kevin gave them all a slow look over. “I’m just glad we don’t have uniforms.” “Places everyone.” Mr. Philips called. The pirates and Regan took their positions for the opening number and they started their run through. The cast was back on track after their prior disorganized practice. Regan and Vincent had a duet before the sisters, without Mabel, took the stage. Kate led the lines and singing when the sisters entered stage left. Vincent, as Frederic, joined with a solo. For being a jerk, he sang pretty well. Meg’s big number was after his and she nailed it. “You were a little pitchy.” Regan commentated without being asked. Olga glared at her. “Regan, we’ll do the directing.” “We’re allowed to give constructive criticism.”

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


164

“Regan let’s talk.” Olga took Regan aside for the second rehearsal in a row. She wasn’t going to wait until things went too far. Miss Carter excused herself from the others to join Olga and Regan. “Where’s the Major General.” Mr. Philips moved things along. Brad was half way through his performance when it was interrupted. “I can sing circles around her. I want to know why I’m given second billing.” Regan had raised her voice and it carried in the auditorium. From the shakiness in her words, Greg guessed she was doing all she could to not cry. “This is a promise, you do not want us to reconsider the casting now.” Miss Carter’s librarian glasses and tight bun emphasized her strictness. “I don’t have to take this.” Regan spat out. “It’s your decision.” Regan stormed out. Greg and Chris exchanged looks. “Okay.” Miss Carter turned back to the students who were openly watching. “Back to work. Kate take Ruth’s role and Carrie take Edith.” The two girls moved to their new positions. Kate was off stage talking with Chris until Brad finished the Major General’s song. It was very fast. Brad used his new speed skill to keep from stumbling over the words. They completed the play without further incident. “Kate.” Mr. Philips called as the other cast members left. She loped over to the teachers to have a quick conversation. Chris, Kevin and Vincent waited with Greg’s usual crew to see what the outcome was. They were pretty sure that Regan wouldn’t be welcomed back after her unruly flare-up. “Well?” Greg said when Kate exited the auditorium. “I’m Ruth.” She was very still from fear. It was a bigger and harder role. “You’ll do great. This is wonderful.” Meg was elated. Not only was Kate her best friend but also Regan had worn her nerves raw. “Congratulations.” Chris offered.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


165

“You would be happy about it. I have to admit, I’m a little disappointed.” Kevin leered at Kate. The changes meant Chris would kiss Kate and Kevin would kiss Carrie. Carrie wasn’t nearly as cute as Kate plus Kevin enjoyed taunting Kate. He had a love-hate crush on her. “You’ll have to get use to disappointment.” Greg laughed and gave Kate a quick peck on the cheek. “I’ll have to come in for extra practice with Olga.” Kate added. “You’ll pick it up.” Meg encouraged with open glee. Kate’s fear subsided as a devilish thought crossed her mind. “I’ll let Carrie know you are willing to have private rehearsals.” She said to Kevin. He glared at her.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM
 A Spy Among Us
Greg picked up Chris on his way to Frankie and Henry’s that Saturday. They walked into the

166

backyard where the others were already grouped off and playing tactical games. Dave had joined before Thanksgiving and was working closely with Brian. Brian had managed to teach Dave telekinesis but it was difficult and slow. Kate taught him everything else. “Isn’t that Eric’s girlfriend?” Chris watched Frankie and Eric interact. “Sort of. I don’t get them but they seem to be hitting it off.” He didn’t know if it would last. Kate expected it to fizzle out and he suspected she was right. “Chris?” Kate called. Greg hadn’t told the group that he had spoken to Chris about their team. “Hello.” Chris waved to everyone. “Glad you can come.” Henry walked over with his sister. “What have you been told?” “Everything.” Greg responded. “Good.” Frankie said. “We’ll work with Kate to learn how to do some of these amazing things.” They grabbed Kate and worked in a corner of the yard while the others ran through some drills. Greg watched Kate working with Frankie and Chris. Chris lifted a coin in his hand like Brad had when Kate was teaching him. Buster barked for attention. He loved Kate because of her natural talent to talk to him but she was too busy to play. Frankie took him inside. Kate continued teaching Chris speed in the meantime. “Good of you to bring him.” Eric told Greg jerking his head in Chris’ direction. “I wasn’t sure you would do that.” “We’re friends.” Greg shrugged. “And he knows how to work on a team.” “That can’t be good.” Eric stared at Kate and Chris. Greg turned back and saw his replica standing with Kate. “Now I have a twin.” He teased as Chris returned to himself. “I hope Kate can tell the difference.” Greg rolled his eyes. “Please, it would take more than that to fool her.” Unless she wanted to be fooled, he worried.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

“She won’t do that.” Eric heard his fear.

167

Eric was the star pupil. He was learning how to use more gifts at once. Deterring others took the most concentration. Eric was able to block and still use his other gifts. It was a break through and once he jumped that hurdle, combining many skills at once came rapidly. “It’s your confidence that helps. You open up the full potential with your state of mind.” Henry remarked. “It’s called conceit and it is annoying in most other situations.” Brian teased. Greg could see that Eric had liberated himself to reach the achievement. Kate, who was far more cautious and self-doubting than her brothers, was limiting her own potential. Eric had reached a critical point in momentum to pass the barriers. “Matt will probably be next.” Henry guessed wisely. “And then it is even money on Brian or Greg after that. Meg will be close.” Meg had the most improvement. She thrived in the training as she did in rehearsal. The repetition helped or landing the starring role had given her a boost in confidence. It would be great if playing Ruth would help Kate but he didn’t think so. Since their last rehearsal, Kate had been more reserved than ever. Kate thrived in free form situations. By the end of boot camp, Matt had accomplished thwarting others and moving things in conjunction. Kate was spent after spending the day with Frankie and Chris. Chris learned quicker than Brad. Frankie was still a challenge for Kate but she had picked up telepathy and speed with weaker results. Frankie saw how telepathy was preferable to mind reading but the two were very closely related. With telepathy she could still glean some general stray thoughts even when the other person wasn’t aware. Most people wished to be heard even when they didn’t speak their minds and that was key. Frankie’s new skills were always softer. It was probably her maturity. Chronologically she was only a bit older than the twins but she was more mature. They started to have debriefing sessions after their days of tactics and drills. Kate had an update. “Turns out that Holly was a plant from Gran. Jim confronted her last week and she vanished. He hasn’t seen her since.” “Did he tell dad?” Matt wanted Ron to know that Gran was still up to no good.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

“He did and Ron’s going to call Morrie. Hopefully he’ll have a heart to heart with Gran.”

168

“How did your grandmother get so close to you guys last year?” Henry wondered. “I mean you can feel Tyler coming miles away.” Miles was an exaggeration but they felt them before they saw them. “We think she had some kind of stealth gift.” Brian answered. “I guess we should have it too.” “Stealth?” Frankie sat up. “You didn’t mention this.” “It isn’t that different from deterrence. It just deterring yourself instead of others.” Eric said blasé. “We’ll have to test this.” She grabbed her famous notebook to add the new information. Eric and Kate exchanged glances. They never liked to see Frankie get clinical. “Have you sensed Tyler or Deborah around?” Henry asked the St. Iggy’s students. “At a distance.” Greg admitted. “That’s good.” Frankie said. “If they got help from your grandmother before they may go back for more. If she can help them sneak up, you wouldn’t feel them at all.” “She can only hide herself.” Matt said. “Are you sure? We haven’t tested it.” Frankie was irked they hadn’t mentioned it earlier. “We’ll test it.” Eric promised, his voice a tad infuriated. “Next week.” She gave him a stern look. “Is there anything else you’re forgetting?” “Nothing comes to mind.” Eric was abashed. He didn’t like that Frankie turned into a stringent pre-school teacher. They had just gone on a friendly date and she was putting up barriers again. Henry put his hand on Frankie’s arm to relax her. She was stiff as a rod in her seat. She got the messaged and slouched back moderately at ease. “Anything else happen lately?” Henry wanted to make sure things didn’t slip through the cracks again. He was smart enough not to come off accosting in his attempts. “Kate was bumped up to Ruth in the school play.” Meg answered. Everyone started to congratulate Kate. She blushed and then she disappeared. “Um, Kate,” Brad said, “You don’t have to hide from us.” “Oops.” Kate’s voice squeaked as she showed herself again.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

“You didn’t mean to do that? That’s the third time.” Frankie said. “Third time?” Henry repeated for clarification.

169

“This isn’t the first time she unintentionally did something.” Frankie turned to Kate. “You can’t do that in front of other people.” “I haven’t.” Kate stared at her hands in her lap as she tried to hide behind her hair probably fighting the urge to vanish completely. “It may be a comfort level thing. There’s a strong instinct to conceal gifts and she doesn’t need to around us. Subconsciously she’ll be less likely to reveal skills in front of strangers.” Henry wasn’t absolute but he seemed to think that was a logical assumption. He wanted to keep his sister from getting to harsh on the matter and scaring Kate from sharing. “It could be a blessing in a time of need. The skills seem to operate on instinct.” Frankie capitalized on his assumption. And she may have meant it. “You missed it.” Henry hadn’t mentioned the day’s break through event. “Eric and Matt have mastered deterrence with other skills.” Eric and Matt, who didn’t mind attention at all, were grinning ear to ear with self-satisfaction. “Anyone else close?” “The others are close. It would take more than larger numbers to out maneuver this team.” “How big is Guido’s gang?” Brad loved to hear about Guido. The nickname was aptly suited. “We aren’t sure. We guessed twenty and at least ten are in jail with him. I doubt they all stayed on to follow Tyler and Deborah. They were the youngest and their skill can come off somewhat meek in comparison.” “Twenty? There are only nine of us.” Chris counted. “Eleven with you two.” “And our parents.” Brian added. “Dad and mom can be helpful. Jim and Andy weren’t really able to do much.” “And grandpa Gerard was good with blocking but it was his shotgun that tipped him into a more invincible force.” Eric said with a clear sense of awe. It was a ballsy move both times. “Don’t forget Ellen.” They all nodded at Kate’s comments. Frankie flipped to her earlier notes. “She called in some cougar back up.”

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

“A few wild animals will put our numbers in the lead.” Matt glanced at Kate. “I wonder if you could black out an animal.” Henry looked at his sister. “I’ll get Buster.” Experimenting with the powers always excited the paranormal geek twins. Buster was happy to rejoin the people after his isolation. “Let me.” Frankie tried talking to Buster. “You were being a bad dog today.” She scolded. He bowed his head. “He says there was

170

something in the bushes.” Frankie patted his head. She was much warmer to the dog than people. “Okay, don’t worry but we’re going to try to close your eyes and ears. If everything goes dark, I want you to give a bark.” Greg did the honors but nothing happened. “Kate, you try.” Frankie suggested. “Okay but Greg is the originator on that one.” A couple of seconds later Buster barked. “I think animal brains are different than human’s. Since you have a kinship already established, you were able to do it.” Henry guessed. Buster bounded over to Kate and put his large head in her lap for her to pet him. She obliged and scratched behind his ears. “You’re a good guard dog.” She cooed. Then her face dropped. “It wasn’t just something in the bushes, it was Holly.” “What?” Frankie was on her feet. “She was here?” “Yes. He remembers her smell.” Kate scanned around the room. “She saw us training.” Henry was stunned. “And you guys were teaching each other.” “Is this bad?” Chris asked not fully understanding the implications. “It means that we’re losing the element of surprise.” Henry wasn’t happy. “Are you sure she’s a plant from Gran and not Tyler?” Greg wondered. “Why would Tyler put someone at my dad’s office before they even reached out to you?” Kate logically deduced. “But if they have talked to Gran once, they may get an update.” Eric stood up and paced. “Everyone calm down.” Matt took charge since Eric decided to fret. “We can’t undo it but we know that they may know more than we hoped. We still have our training.”

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

“And she left before you locked him up. He scared her off. That was pretty early on.” Kate rubbed Buster on his head.

171

“Why didn’t anyone sense her?” Dave asked. He had learned empathy but hadn’t developed it to feel people around him. The others could tell when unwelcomed people were near. “We were all busy with our projects. It takes concentration away.” Brian answered. Their spirits sank. Their circle had been infiltrated. They all worried it wasn’t the first time but they were determined to make sure it would be the last. “Wait.” Kate said. “We know it didn’t happen before. Even if she was invisible and hiding from us, he would still catch her scent.” She gave Buster a big hug around his neck. He wagged his tail.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

Christmas Puppies

172

The winter dance was a good diversion for a night. It was the first party Greg had been to since his near DUI that he wished he could partake. Kate told him to go ahead and she would stay dry and drive home. He did but kept things to a mild buzz. Brad was toasted. As the year before, Santa Katrina had their dance the same night. Kate set Chris up with Lindsay. Santa Katrina’s school had their dance the same night but he went to St. Iggy’s. It wasn’t an imposition since he was still on the outs with his school for siding with Greg in the scuffle. The Thursday before Christmas, Jim had a get together at his house for those in the know. All the usual suspects were in attendance. Even Father Francis had joined the festivities. Ellen arrived late. She usually did the cooking for Jim’s parties but they had ordered pizza in a lazy effort to keep things casual. “Can someone help me unload the car?” She asked. Eric and Matt volunteered and the three walked in with five dog carriers, each with two puppies inside. Eric moved the table and chairs to the side mentally as Ellen started laying out newspapers covering the floor. She opened the cages and the puppies spilled out and started hopping around and licking her face. Buster was interested in the new arrivals. Zuzu kept to the countertops wary of the hyperactive visitors. “We rescued them about a month ago. They’re about ten weeks old. I think they’re mostly German Shepherds.” Ellen spent time helping an animal rescue mission in the area. “Kate told me about the invisible woman intruding on your practice and I thought some of you would want to adopt. They make great guard dogs.” Most of the kids were already sitting down for the pups to meet them. “I’ll take one.” Father Francis said as he picked up a dog that was pulling on his shoelace. “Do you need a good home?” He got a slobbery yes in response. Sandy was playing with a girl puppy that was the shyest of them all. “Ron, I would love a dog. And Katja needs a home.”

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

Ron was not a pet person but he couldn’t tell his wife no. He had softened so much in the last year. “Katja? You named her already. Are you asking permission or updating me of the status?” “It’s a good German name.” Sandy smiled up at her husband. He squatted down and petted the puppy. “At least she isn’t as spastic as the rest.” Sandy hugged him still holding Katja in one arm. “That’s a yes.”

173

Before long they dogs were divvied up. Chris and Brad were on their phones checking with their parents. Dave and Meg were sure their parents would approve but Andy promised they could keep one at his house if they didn’t. Frankie smirked at Ellen. “You’re a sharp woman.” “Of course I am.” Jim left and came back with a bag from the local pet store. “I think we cleared out the store on collars, leashes and food bowls.” He plopped the bags on the table. “You knew what I was up to?” Ellen was taken aback. “Mom, I can see right through you. Kate and I picked these up yesterday.” “I’ll name him Benedict after the new pope.” Father Francis put a collar on his new friend. He picked a white one and the dog looked like he was dressed in matching clerical attire. “We’re naming ours Zeus.” Matt announced. Eric was at his side scratching their new friends ears. “Hey, I didn’t say we could have two.” Ron protested. “For our condo. We have a bit of yard and lots of people have bigger dogs there.” Eric didn’t wait for permission. Why start a bad habit? Ron had lost his control over his family and he was happier for it. And who was he kidding? As if he ever had control of the twins. “What will we name ours?” Ian waited for Greg to dub the dog. “Tommy after Tommy Lasorda.” Greg announced. “Good name.” Of course Andy liked naming the dog after the retired Dodger manager. “Andy, you are not allowed to turn my boy into a Dodger fan.” Angela accused. “I will and then we’re going to fix your San Francisco Giants fetish.”

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

“Socrates will come home with me. I’ve been thinking of getting a dog. The house is just so

174

empty all the time.” Gerard was happy with the Christmas surprise. His work and family had saved him from slipping into a deep depression after losing his wife, but when he was home, he was alone. “We’re taking her home.” Dave confirmed that he got the official okay from their mother. “Let’s call her Roxie.” Meg smiled amorously. “I’m calling mine Dogzilla.” Brad said to his puppy that had the largest paws of them all. “Dogzilla? What kind of name is that?” Greg kicked Brad’s foot. “It’s a fierce name.” He pouted. “Well, he kind of looks like he is wearing gloves, I could call him Rocky.” “That’s better, not much, but better.” “I’ll match Hercules here against your Rocky any old day.” Chris said playing with the largest puppy. “I guess we have to take both of these then.” Jim said as he and Kate each had the remaining puppies sleeping in their laps. They were the smallest of the litter. Kate beamed at her dad. “What will we name them? He’s a boy and this one’s a girl.” “How about Boris and Natasha?” Andy suggested. “After the two cartoon characters.” “Those are Russian names.” Sandy corrected too analytical to see that it didn’t matter. “I like them.” Kate held up her small dog. “How do you like the name Natasha?” “I should have brought extras.” Ellen joked. Kate stood up and put Natasha next to Zuzu. “Are you going to be nice?” Zuzu sniffed carefully at the puppy and then turned away to lick some imaginary dirt on her back. Kate scratched her head. “She’ll be fine when there aren’t so many of them.” “You kids are going to help keep the yard clear of dog droppings.” Ron informed his sons trying to regain some authority in his family. “Sure thing Dad.” Brian promised. “It’s not like we have to use our hands.” “True. Telekinesis is a great thing.” Soon everyone was asking Kate to show them how to talk to their new pets. Greg noticed that Kate didn’t get as tired when she wasn’t at boot camp. Unlike Meg who flourished with practice and

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


175

supervision, Kate excelled when she was rule-free and without a defined objectives. For fun, she tried to empathize with everyone before she started communicating with Boris and Natasha. Her brothers, Greg, Chris and Meg learned simultaneously. It was like using a skill as a toy. Ian, who had only learned telepathy at that point, had picked it up with Greg’s help. Henry turned his head to Frankie, “She just taught six people at once.” Even his better-hidden clinical nature couldn’t resist. It was too incredible. Matt and Eric hadn’t missed the fact that Kate’s skills potential seemed limitless. Little Zeus was busy untying their shoelaces as they sat pretending not to eavesdrop on Henry and Frankie. Greg paid careful attention to both sets of twins. Even with empathy, Greg could barely confirm Matt and Eric were in a telepathic conversation no doubt on the same topic. “Good thing she’s on our side.” Frankie told her brother unaware that some of the new puppy owners weren’t as diverted from their conversation as she thought. Henry kept a smile but his face was ashen. “What were you doing when Buster started barking when Holly was spying?” Are you listening to this? Greg asked Eric and Matt trying to break into their powwow. We are. Eric cocked an eyebrow and giving him full access to both twins’ minds. We were thinking the same thing. “Kate was explaining to Chris that she was going to reach out to him and when he felt her presence to do what she does. They had a coin and first Kate lifted it. Then Chris did the same a moment later.” Frankie whispered. “Did you run down the menu of skills the team has?” “No, he was already updated. And he hadn’t mentioned he could mimic appearances until well after that.” They think Gran knows that Kate can share skills. Greg remarked. It isn’t Gran they are worried about. Matt must have been reading their minds as well as listening. Not even Tyler. We can’t let them get this Guido guy out of prison. Eric added dropping his perfectly cool cover image briefly.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

It isn’t likely that Gran is running to them with every tidbit. Matt guessed. She isn’t going to tolerate criminals often. Brad and Dave had finished their private lessons on listening to their puppies and Kate was

176

working on the adults. The expectations were lower but after Angela’s modest success at telepathy she was convinced age was only a hindrance. We don’t know if they got their last bit of information directly from Gran to begin with but we know they learned something from her about us. Whatever the line of communication is, there is one. Eric’s glance darted to his precious little sister. If he ever discovers what Kate can do, he will come after her. Shit. Greg cursed. Eric looked at him. His eyes were both worried and self-assured. I won’t let it happen. Me either. Matt and Greg thought in unison. If anyone tried to get near Kate or the Thomas brothers, they would need to be well informed and equipped. Kate was easily the scariest in the multi-talent category and her empathy was beyond extraordinary. The same things that made her so desirable to the likes of Guido were the same things that made her so unattainable. The twins were an invincible force for sure. They were a unit in two bodies and yet they had their individuality on the side. Greg didn’t know Matt as well as Eric and that was evidence enough that they were unique on some level. Matt, who spent more effort on keeping the peace and staying level headed then Eric even spent considering either, was as potent a threat as his twin. And a tangle with any member of the group, no matter how remote to Matt, would be met with his full conviction. And Eric, for all his arrogance and peculiar sense of humor, didn’t lose. Something about him comprehended basic human primitive psyches. Every situation was bent to his purpose no matter how whimsical. Often his wishes were simple plans of tomfoolery. When danger called he would protect Kate, his family and the inner circle, in that order. And Brian, who wasn’t as skilled as Kate or as invincible as the combined twins, was able to step in to fill any void left open from his three siblings. His one advantage over his siblings was his rationale. He was the needed counterbalance. Of the whole family, Kate included, Brian kept his emotions level.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


177

The one time he lost it in front of Greg was when Jeff made a pass at Kate and the twins weren’t there to do set things straight. He filled their vacuum. It was wise to be aware that Guido would want Kate’s services if he ever escaped. He would be biting off more than he could chew. Hearing Eric say he wouldn’t allow it was comfort to Greg for the basic postulate that it was an absolute truth. Sandy had minor success chatting with Katja. She didn’t really learn the new trick but adapted her empathy to suit itself to the dog. She read moods, which wasn’t far off from communicating with animals. It wasn’t going to be a long discussion on the state of the economy. Since the dogs were so young, their thoughts were mostly about food, bathroom breaks and wanting to be petted. There was some feedback on a particular scent. Gerard couldn’t empathize with Socrates. Whatever Sandy did to tweak her skill to include animals wasn’t working for him. “You did good.” Jim hugged his mom. “They needed homes and you all needed pets, it just made sense. And Frankie may take an Irish Setter we have. He’s older and was badly hurt. He was left for dead on the road but his will to live was strong.” “That’s great.” Jim loved animals and had always had one or two around until right before Kate showed up at his office. “And you have gone too long without a dog.” Ellen put a gentle hand on her sons shoulder. “I know. It was hard to think of another pet after Georgette passed.” “She was a good dog and the downside to our gift is that losing a pet is like losing a friend.” She smiled at Kate. “It wasn’t until Kate came into your life that you started to come out of it.” “It had only been a couple of months.” Jim scowled. “But Kate did reignite my life. I needed a good swift boot to the head.” “Life goes on, with or without us.” Her words didn’t sooth him. Jim was still sad. “What’s wrong?” “She’s going to college next year. I just got use to having her in my life and it was too short.” “Yeah, once you left for college I never saw you again.”

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

That lie made him smile. “I get it. Grow up already.” “She adores you. She won’t stay away for long.”

178

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM
 Happy New Year

179

Christmas break was a good chance for everyone to catch their breath. Greg went skiing with his family. Kate went to Hawaii with her mother, Ron and brothers. They visited each other every night. One day when Kate was biking with her brothers, she crashed. Greg saw everything as she flipped heels over head and then head over heels before landing flat on the path. She had a big gouge on her leg and her palms were raw from the dirt and pebbles. “Eric will answer for this.” Greg teased when he was in her misty room. “They were in front of me. He didn’t see a thing until it was too late.” “Even worse. Let me guess, you were trying to keep up with them.” She had to be if she wasn’t able to react before impact. Kate stuck out her tongue. For all her powers she was still a kid sister trying to keep up with her big brothers. “It isn’t that bad.” She examined her leg. The bandage was darkened with blood and puss spots. It was gross. Greg hated to think what it looked like underneath. “Their mistake wasn’t as bad as mine in San Francisco.” He admitted. “You have to let that go. It wasn’t your fault.” He shrugged. He wouldn’t forget that he walked away from Kate when treacherous people were around. “How is skiing?” “Dad took a bad spill trying to show off on a double black diamond slope. Luckily he didn’t break anything but his back is killing him.” “Tell him I hope he feels better.” Greg nodded. He would mention it when Angela wasn’t around. “And I got you something.” Greg took the bag from Kate and found a gecko t-shirt inside. “Thanks. Why didn’t you wait until I got home?” “Because I don’t know if I can fit it in my luggage. Mom and I did some shopping.” “Lots of sundresses I hope.”

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

She smirked. “You’ll see.” “What are you doing for New Year’s?” Greg wouldn’t be home in time. “Brad, Meg, Brian and I are going to a party at Auggie’s.”

180

“A Santa Katrina party?” He tried to hide his unhappiness. Chris would be there. Greg saw him as a good friend but his jealousy saw him as a contender. “Sure. Want to come?” “We won’t be back until the day after.” “Ask your parents if you can come back early. I can pull you home through a dream.” Greg liked the sound of parents. When it was just Andy and him things were good. After the wedding things didn’t feel as good but they had caught up. “Maybe his back will be a good reason for us to return sooner.” He figured he could angle it without raising any alarms from a suspicious Angela. The next morning Greg and Ian went to collect their parents for breakfast. Andy stayed behind insisting they eat first and bring him a plate when they were done. He may have proven himself a klutz but he would counter it with bravado. “Greg, I know you love skiing but would you mind if we went home today?” Angela asked as she prepared her stack of pancakes with trimmings. “Is Dad that bad?” Greg worried his dad was in more agony than he let on. “He won’t admit it but he won’t be able to have fun.” “And it isn’t fun for us without him.” Greg agreed. “It’s a good call.” She played into his plans and more importantly Andy needed to be home to heal quicker. “What about you, Ian?” “It’s cool with me. I miss Tommy.” Tommy may have been the family pet but Ian was his favorite. Jim was keeping him with the Thomas dogs while they traveled. Four puppies were a lot of work but his nieces were with him to keep them occupied. “All we have to do is convince Andy.” She sighed knowing he would resist so they could ski longer. It took some cajoling but Andy acquiesced in the end. They loaded the car with their bags, loaded Andy with painkillers and drove home from Mammoth.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


181

“Next time, I’m staying on Sesame Street.” Andy vowed. Sesame Street was one of the bunny runs in Mammoth. “Don’t listen to him. He says that every time.” Greg cautioned. “I know better than to believe him when he’s doped up.” Angela kidded as she patted Andy’s knee. Greg was pleasantly surprised. Angela had been so uptight since they moved in. Her fun side poked out now and again but she wasn’t her old carefree self. She was always worried about Ian or Greg’s relationship with Kate. The eminent danger could have heightened her maternal instincts but it seemed to loosen her up. Perhaps she reached a threshold and reverted back to her more relaxed self accepting that things were going to be rough for a while. Greg had always felt like the lone victim to adjusting to the blended family but they all were. It had been half a year and maybe they were finally getting comfortable with each other in their closer quarters. “So, when does baseball tryouts start?” Angela asked as she sped down the freeway. “After midterms.” It was another good sign. If his stepmother brought it up that meant her resistance was gone. “I can tryout, right mom?” Ian asked too eagerly and in the form of a yes/no question. Greg was ready to persuade if she started to prosecute the idea. And he would have a talk to Ian about how to phrase questions for optimal answers. “I already agreed.” There wasn’t an ounce of regret in her voice. Andy reached over and held her hand. “I love you.” And baseball. Greg added in his own mind. Andy must have heard because he snickered at the right moment. “I love you too.” Kate returned to Santa Katrina the next day and the party was the day after that. Greg preferred staying home and keeping it intimate like they had the year before but was out voted. Brian drove them in one car so that the others could join in the revelry freely.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


182

It only took one beer for Kate to get tipsy. She switched to water after that until it wore off and then back to beer. Greg didn’t stop. He needed to relax. They were kicking back with Chris and some other kids from the musical. A cute girl from Santa Katrina talked Brad into performing the song he used for his audition. The story had made its rounds through both schools. It didn’t take much effort to get Brad to agree. He was in a happy place and she was very good-looking. It was a hit as it always was. Chris and Greg had Kate sandwiched on the couch. When Chris left to get another round for them Kevin took his place. “Admit it, you would rather be Edith.” “She’s a great Ruth.” Greg stammered. “I liked it better when you were Edith.” Kevin whispered into her ear. Greg tensed. Kevin was undoing the effects of the beer. Chris came back with the next round and kicked Kevin out of his seat. “I’ll find you at midnight.” Kevin winked at Kate before moving to a seat further away. “I’ll give you a proper New Year’s welcome.” “Do I need to beat him up again?” Greg didn’t feel the urge to fight. Kate smiled and shook her head. “You can’t let him weasel in like that.” Chris commented as he gave Greg his beer and snuggled back into his spot. “He’s harmless enough.” Kate said quietly. “But he makes being Ruth worth it.” “He didn’t turn you on with his passionate kissing?” Chris leaned in as he slurred out his words. He was more sober than Greg but still buzzed enough to slow down his speech. “Not at all.” Kate’s face twisted in disgust. Greg put his arm around Kate and she leaned back into him. Kevin was a jerk but Chris was someone that Kate had liked to kiss once. “You don’t want to know this but Regan is here.” Chris told them. “She’s in the kitchen losing at a game of quarters.” “Hopefully she stays there.” Kate took a swallow of beer.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


183

When she was done with the beer, Greg and her went outside to get some air and water. It was almost midnight and there wasn’t a soul in the backyard aside from them. It was too chilly for the warm blooded Californians to take for long. Enjoying the solitude and combating the frigid air, Greg started kissing Kate. She was eager as he was. He ran his hands down her back and then slide them under her shirt. The beer had lowered his inhibitions and his mind was clear of any Catholic guilt. “We aren’t alone.” Kate pushed his hands down. Greg gave her a silly grin. They were alone in the empty yard. “Anyone can come out and catch us.” She revised. “Makes it more exciting.” He kissed her again and moved his hands upward but she held them back. “Not here.” She whispered into his ear. “Later.” He barely heard her words. Her warm breath warmed his ear and he got a chill down his back. He made another pass for second base. “Greg.” She chided. “First, I can’t keep you off me and now you don’t want me touching you.” He didn’t want to start an argument but he was. “What about you? Don’t tell me that we would be doing this if you hadn’t been drinking all night.” She countered with the same tone. “You just don’t want Chris to see us.” It was a stupid accusation for Greg to make. “That’s absurd.” She stood up. “I’m going back inside.” Greg sat in the cold night stewing. “I’m an asshole.” He told himself after some time passed. He got up and felt light headed. He had more to drink than he calculated. He swallowed a full bottle of water and tried to shake of the buzz. It helped, very little. He went into the party to find Kate and apologize. People were counting down to midnight and as Greg walked through the crowd everyone started cheering, drinking, hugging and kissing. As he tried to steer clear of the revelers, Regan seized him and landed a big wet smack on his lips. “Happy New Year!” She shouted over the noise. He could smell the beer on her breath.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


184

“Happy new year.” He replied trying to move but the partygoers were packed in too tightly for an easy retreat. “That isn’t going to do.” She grabbed him again and kissed him harder. He pulled her off. She had a lustful look in her eyes. “Thanks.” He said mockingly. It wasn’t worth rationalizing with a drunk to tell her to stop. “Relax, she isn’t here. She’s out front with Chris.” There was malice in her smile before she kissed him again. “Enjoy yourself.” She tried to tempt him to forget about Kate if only for a few moments. “Stop that.” He broke free and moved for the front door. Kate and Chris were on the steps, kissing. Greg jerked him up by his shoulder and pulled his fist back. Chris ducked before contact. Greg sped up and went in for another hit but his sight went black. Kate had done it. He blocked her efforts. “Sticking up for Chris.” He hissed. “It isn’t what you think. We were just talking and then she kissed me out of the blue.” Chris blurted out giving Kate a troubled look. She had played him. Greg didn’t listen. He thrust out a force to shove Chris back. Chris was ready with an equal and opposite force. “Stop it.” Kate said. “It’s true. He didn’t do anything.” Greg could feel his force over powering Chris’. He coupled it with speed and Chris flew back a few yards and landed on the grass. Kate ran to Chris to help him up. “I was coming to apologize. How stupid I am.” Greg barked and headed back to the house to find his cousin or Brad or anyone else. “Was that before or after you had your tongue down Regan’s throat?” Kate yelled at him stopping him dead in his tracks. It took a second for his muddy mind to realize that Kate’s vision flickered to his when Regan kissed him. “You saw that?” Of course she did. He didn’t close his eyes like you do when you kiss someone you love. Chris stood up wiping the grass from his jeans. “Kate, that wasn’t cool. I’m not your back up guy.” He went to the door. “I’ll see you both later.”

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


185

Greg had to tell Chris he was sorry for misunderstanding. He was sorry for more. He had no right to try to hit him even if they were kissing. How could he blame him for wanting to kiss Kate? He would do it all day if time allowed it. Kate was the one that shouldn’t have been kissing him. They had been steady for over a year. “Regan kissed me.” Greg said to Kate unsure how mad he should be at her. “Three times?” “Yes. Three times. She kissed me once for New Year’s and when I didn’t kiss back good enough she kissed me again. And when she told me you were out here with Chris she snuck in another one.” It was true and Kate could tell. “Chris must hate me.” She sighed wondering if she pushed their friendship too far. “I don’t think so. He wasn’t exactly shoving you off.” “He did the first time.” He rolled his eyes. Kate had been insistent. “A fine mess we made. Come on. Let’s go find him and tell him we’re jerks.” They explained what happened and as usual, Chris took it well. “I wanted to kiss someone who wasn’t Greg and you were there. I don’t think of you as my back up.” Kate assured him. He smiled hardly feeling like a victim. “Anytime you fight you can come kiss me.” He couldn’t stay angry with her even after she took advantage of him. “Hold on.” Greg blurted out. “If you’re dumb enough to start a fight with her than I can’t promise to be strong enough to resist.” Greg hoped he was kidding. “You were pretty fast on your feet.” He noted. “I haven’t had as much to drink as you. That helped.” “You really aren’t going to let her kiss you any old time she wants.” “I’ll do better next time. I don’t much like being used but I’ll be honest, the idea passed.” He paused. “And watch out for Regan. She didn’t pick you out of the crowd by chance. She wants to get back at Kate for taking her role away.”

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


186

Greg, where are you guys? Meg was searching for him mentally. Brad needs to get home. He over did it. “Gotta go. Brad is drunk.” Greg pulled Kate to find the others. “You St. Iggy’s kids need to learn to hold your liquor better.” Chris called after them. Brad looked horrible after up chucking but he felt better. Greg grabbed a bottle of water for him and they took him home to dry out.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

Eric Helps Again After Christmas break they focused on studying for the midterms. Rehearsal schedule was curtailed as they were before break when the Santa Katrina kids were wrapping up their semesters. Baseball tryouts were the week after that and Ian made the junior varsity team’s first string. That was better than second string on varsity because he would play more. Kate and Meg took tennis class after lunch while Brad and Greg had free periods. The tennis season was over so it gave Kate an outlet to keep up her form.

187

Kate had become a big fan of Olga’s, who had brought her up to speed on all her dance routines. Olga was a good instructor and read people’s learning habits well. She had a natural talent to work with most personalities and Regan was a rare exclusion. By mid-February Kate was ready and they discontinued the one-on-one make up sessions. Kate didn’t understand why and Greg couldn’t explain it to her, but Chris and him were closer friends after the party. The mild underlying tension was exposed and therefore more tolerable. The puppies were growing fast. Because of the ability to communicate, they were not as destructive as most and they were house trained in record time. Katja had warmed Ron’s heart. He called her the best bitch in town. It was his way of pretending he didn’t adore her. He had been so opposed to pets. He walked her every day and on weekends he often had Zeus as well. The only puzzling thing was that there wasn’t any sign of Tyler or Deborah for weeks. Before his ski trip Greg often sensed them at a safe perimeter. Weeks had gone by since. If they had gotten an update they may have decided to rework a plan or give up to look for a more willing helper. They only met every other week and slowly the group relaxed thinking the worst was behind them. Eric worried Tyler’s group had learned to conceal themselves or had someone helping them. It was a valid concern. Matt pointed out that detecting people’s presence via empathy wasn’t on the list of skills that Deborah ran through and they wouldn’t know there was a need for metaphysical stealth. If they learned of Holly’s spying, it would echo that sentiment. The dog detected her presence and not them. Greg stayed extra diligent knowing they were both apprehensive.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


188

Henry had judged their upcoming skills well. They were mixing up gifts and even using the same gift more than once when they couldn’t before. Building stamina in blocking was the biggest challenge for them. Even though they achieved progress in combining it with other talents it still wore out strength too quickly. It took the most concentration but Kate found a useful hint. She found that if she knew what skill they were blocking, it took far less effort. Frankie pressed for all of them to do better at reading other’s skills when they were using them so that if it came to dire needs, they could use the insight to store their energy reserve. Kate was still polishing that skill to the level of Father Francis but she led the pack in ability. It was second nature for her to sense a skill and then narrow it down into a category. The others, Greg included, had to focus to start it up. Using one of Henry and Frankie’s father’s pistols they did some experiments on controlling the bullet. It took a group effort but they could stop a bullet. It was easier to change the direction it flew. Frankie had also insisted on testing stealth. As she predicted, it was something that could be used to conceal others as well as on oneself but only one person at a time. At least none achieved multiple targets. Luckily, the dogs weren’t fooled. Even if someone combined vanishing with stealth, the dogs found the elusive person. Eric had lost interest in Frankie. She hadn’t posed the possibility of a second date and he wasn’t the kind to beg. It was better. She was too hard for Eric. He needed someone softer. The hunt had held Eric’s intrigue longer than he would have otherwise kept it. Eric needed a challenge but not complication. Conversely, Frankie had loosened up and was even mildly flirtatious with Eric. He took notice and enjoyed it but didn’t reciprocate after the first few times. When he did, she withdrew. It would take more than casual enticing to persuade him she was interested to move forward. Would Frankie up the ante or play out? Greg hoped she’d stay away and Kate was glad it was over. The barrier between Frankie and Kate was compromised but it still spent more energy for Kate to share with her. Henry turned out to be an easier pupil. They were young enough to learn but it was harder. They could do most skills on some level but always with weaker results. For example, they couldn’t vanish but could fade to a ghostly transparent image. Mr. Stewart had not returned to school after Christmas. There was an illness in his family and he moved back to the East Coast from whence he came. Gerard and Father Francis took over his class

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

schedule while the school searched for a long-term substitute or full time replacement. Father Francis

189

taught their AP Chemistry. He had confided in Greg that he had a great replacement but she didn’t have the usual credentials. There was a school board that needed to be convinced to make an exception. It wasn’t the first time he had an unusual candidate and he was sure it was only a formality. Time flew by as baseball practice began. The first baseball game was against Santa Katrina as always. It was an easy win for St. Ignatius’. The difference that year was there were stronger friendships across the teams than ever before. After the fistfight when Chris helped the St. Iggy’s students, he was temporarily an outcast at the public school. It was clear that he was a friend of Brad and Greg and both were considered outlaws at the public school having caused the upset win in football earlier that year and a four year domination in baseball. But Chris was too nice a guy and slowly the seniors from both schools mingled more and more following his lead. Greg took Kate to Auggie’s party after the game. He kept away from the booze and she had a first one and only. Regan was toasted before they arrived and Greg gave her a wide margin of room. They left by ten thirty and he took Kate home. Jim was out of town for work and was due back later that night. Eric had stayed with her in his absence for the few nights he was out. As soon as they were through the door Kate gave Greg a seductive kiss. She took his hand and led him to the couch in the den. “Do you know how cute you are when you play baseball?” She breathlessly whispered in his ear. He curled into her and kissed her passionately. “You don’t go for the thrill of the game?” “I go to see you.” She pulled his shirt over his head. “Katie.” “We have a problem.” Kate ran her fingers across his chest and down his arm. Electrical sensations waked in their path. “We shouldn’t do this.” Despite his words, he didn’t react to stop her. “I want this and this is our relationship. So how do we reconcile that?” She nibbled on his earlobe. “I want this too. We want the same thing.” He held her hand so she couldn’t run it over his bare body.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


190

She pulled her other arm from around his neck and started unbuttoning her blouse. “Good.” She tugged on her hand that he held but he didn’t let it go. She slid her arm out of her sleeve and her top hung down from her trapped arm. Greg couldn’t take anymore. He leaned her back and pinned her under his body. Her skin was exhilarating next to his. He kissed her with full intensity. His hand caressed her side as if by its own will. She wrapped a leg around his. One hand was running through his hair and the other was gently stroking his back. “I love you Katie.” He tried to stop his hand but couldn’t. It ran along the edge of her bra cup and she moaned. “I love you Greg.” She tugged on his earlobe and his eyes rolled back in his head from the sheer pleasure of the sound and her touch. “Enough to wait?” He moved his renegade hand to her hair and leaned up. She stared at him. “Enough to not need to wait.” Kate pulled him down to kiss him. Shit. He thought. It was going to quickly. Eric, where are you? He reached for his only chance to get out of the tempting dilemma. Walking Katja and Zeus. What’s wrong? He feared the worst, that someone had found them. Please come by and be very loud before you come in? Greg fought to keep Kate from taking things too fast or revealing more to Eric than just what he needed to know. One stray thought about Kate slipping through to Eric would be disastrous. Kate tried to undo her bra and he reached behind pretending that he wanted to do it. He could feel three fasteners and accidentally undid one in his feigned attempt to disrobe her. He hoped it was unintentional. Are you two fighting? Eric didn’t understand the request but Greg could feel him approaching the house at a very brisk walk, maybe more a slow run. We’re on different sides of a debate. Greg answered carefully to not trigger Eric’s natural lie detector. It may not work in telepathy but that wasn’t a guarantee. It isn’t a big deal. I just don’t know how to get out of this. Kate pushed Greg up. “I can do it faster.” She reached behind her back to undo her bra.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


191

Greg was out of time and he could tell Eric was still a ways down the block. He loudly turned the doorknob so that it would sound like someone was entering. Kate stopped. “Who’s that?” She couldn’t feel anyone’s presence. “Get dressed.” Greg grabbed his shirt and pulled it over his head. Kate did the same. “It’s Eric.” He had reached the door and she sensed him. She didn’t want him catching them in a compromising position. “Kate, are you home?” Eric called out. “We’re in here.” Kate’s voice squeaked too guilty to see the signs that he wanted to be obvious. “I was taking the dogs for a walk and thought I would bring Boris and Natasha with us?” Eric walked in with the dogs. They panted heavily, tired from a long walk already and the quick trot to her house. Kate didn’t notice in her anxious state. “Um, I think it is kind of late.” “Gosh, look at the hour.” Eric said innocently. “You’re too right. Want to play a game of pool?” He asked Greg. “Or do you two want to be alone?” Greg always knew Eric was a mastermind when it came to controlling situations but he proved himself more proficient than Greg ever dreamed. Kate couldn’t answer that question with any answer other than no. Anyone other than Eric, she may have mustered up the courage to say yes. But her big favorite protective monster of a brother wouldn’t want to know what she was up to. And like it or not, she didn’t want him to know either. “Not at all. We’ve been together all night.” She rolled her eyes. “You’re always welcome here.” Eric let the dogs into the backyard to play with hers. Greg set up the table for a game. Kate went upstairs to check her emails and see Zuzu. “So you weren’t having a fight.” Eric was always able to read people with ease and he knew he was being misled, if not lied to directly. With his metaphysical lie detector he had to know it was a misleading description of the events. “Sort of. Let’s not discuss that.” “I think I know what was going on.” He shot the cue ball and nicely broke to start the game. A stripped ball fell into the pocket. “I just don’t get why you were calling me over and not Kate.”

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

“You don’t want to think about it too much.” Greg promised.

192

“I know you’re right.” Eric shot again and missed. It was probably the fact he had done the math and it broke his concentration. Kate joined them and they told Eric all the details of the opening baseball game. Jim returned and sat with them in the rec room. Greg was safe for another night. Eric took his dogs home and Jim went to unpack and hit the sack. “Sorry about that.” Kate apologized thinking that Greg was as disheartened as she was. He was but glad they had time to wait nonetheless. “He must have sensed something was up and came over. The doorknob was clearly turning before he was close enough to walk in.” “We aren’t ready.” Greg kissed her. “I love you but we aren’t even in college.” “We’ll probably have to wait until then when my family with boundary issues isn’t around to interrupt.” She glared at Greg. “Are you really upset?” “We won’t be able to even then. Brian will be at UCSB. We’ll have to wait until he graduates.” Greg teased. “He’ll give us space because he’ll want his own.” It was true. Brian and Meg had been dating longer than they had and may have already crossed that line. He didn’t want to think of his cousin’s romantic escapades and cleared it from his mind.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM
 Stage Fright

193

The third Friday in March snuck up on Greg and it was opening night of The Pirates of Penzance. Greg walked from class to class in a zombie like state. Kate was even worse. She didn’t speak a word all day in any class. Sister Renee had asked for her input in Existentialism and Kate sat there dumbfounded. Patiently Sister Renee repeated her question and Kate gazed blankly at the nun as if she spoke Latin. After a long wait Meg chimed in to save Kate and thankfully Sister Renee allowed it. She didn’t often, especially when it came to the granddaughter of the brilliant Gerard Sanchez. The four friends went to In & Out for lunch and Kate wasn’t eating. Greg took a long draw on his milkshake as he stared at her forgetting his own stage fright. “Katie, you need to eat something.” He begged. She shook her head. “Please.” Meg pleaded. She didn’t seem to have any concerns for the upcoming performance. If anything she was in her zone and ready for her starring moment. Kate put a fry in her mouth. She chewed for a very long time and then swallowed. Meg and Greg exchanged worried looks. “Uh, Greg, make her stop.” Brad said. “What?” Greg peered at Brad. Seeing a concerned look on his face he turned to Kate. She was fading. She was mostly solid but he could see the contrast of the green trees against the beige building through her dimming form. “Katie. You’re starting to vanish.” Kate glanced at her hands. She had solidified when he spoke and she didn’t see it. “You’re fine now but you were fading there for a second. I could see the building behind you.” “Oh.” She wasn’t audible. He only saw her mouth move. “Okay, I have to take her home.” Greg got up. “We’ll see you guys later.” He walked Kate to her white VW Bug and drove it home. Just his luck she had a stick and he stalled a couple of times. She didn’t flinch as she usually did when someone else drove her car. If she weren’t close to catatonic she would have demanded he pull over to let her drive.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

He took her to her bedroom. She stayed opaque. He brushed her hair out of her face. “Don’t

194

worry about tonight. You’ll do great. You don’t want to disappoint Olga after she said she should have cast you as Ruth from the start. She’ll hate that.” “No, I don’t want to do that.” Kate was just barely making noise. “I like Olga.” “And you’ll need to speak out louder than that on stage.” “Is this better?” She said in her normal voice. “That’s perfect.” He smiled at her. “Take a nap. I’ll come over to wake you up.” She nodded and Zuzu curled up on the bed. Greg told the cat to call him if she faded again. He had never tried to talk to any animal other than his dog Tommy. Talking to Zuzu was different. She seemed far more intelligent than a dog and yet somewhat apathetic. He wondered if it was a cat thing or if she was different. Ellen had hand picked her for Kate and may have chosen her because she was smarter than most pets. He went home and tried to keep his mind off his own stage fright. He started to do homework but his stomach was in knots. He accomplished nothing. Soon it was time to go. He prayed Kate had recovered from her panic attack. Greg collected Kate from her home. She was still quiet but she smiled. Kate was the bravest person but her courage was usually in the face of death and not humiliation. Greg couldn’t stay with Kate once at Santa Katrina High School. He had to go to the men’s dressing room. “Are you doing okay?” He checked for the last time before he would see her on stage. “I’m fine.” She sounded better and more significantly she was visible. He kissed her. “You’re better than fine.” Greg was in his costume and feeling his gut clenching in fear. Chris seemed completely calm. Greg envied him. Chris had some of the hardest dance numbers to perform and two of the longest songs to lead. Even Brad was showing uncharacteristic nervousness. He fussed with his false handlebar moustache complaining about how itchy it was. They had dress rehearsals for two weeks and he never noticed until opening night. Greg. Meg channeled to him. Meet us behind the auditorium.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


195

When Greg found Meg she was alone. “What’s wrong?” He said and then sensed Kate presence but he couldn’t see her. She was completely invisible. “She can’t undo it.” Meg told him. “Katie.” “Yes.” He heard her voice floating as if from nowhere in particular. “It’s just stage fright. You have to reappear.” He reached out to find her arm. “I know but I can’t.” “Why can’t you steal some of Eric’s ego? He has plenty to spare.” They had less than thirty minutes before show time. Greg sent Meg back in. She would be missed most of the three of them. Then he reached out to Eric and Matt who were there in minutes. Eric walked up to her as if he could see her perfectly and hugged her. At first he vanished with her but he fought it off. Anyone that would have happened by would see him holding his arms around air. “Kate, you’ll be great. You’re great at everything you do.” “I know my lines, the steps, the songs. I know that I can do this. I just can’t turn it off.” Her words floated out from space. “This is our fault.” Matt said. “Well, more Eric’s than mine but I was contributory to it.” He raised a brow at Eric. Eric rolled his eyes but then nodded that he was culpable. “He’s right. We always kept you in a safety zone. No more safety zone tonight.” She started to materialized and then faded out again. “I don’t know what’s wrong.” Eric concentrated and blocked her. She came back into focus. “I don’t want to do that all through this. I definitely don’t want to come back tomorrow and see a lousy high school production twice.” She pouted. “Now, I’m going to let you go and you’re going to stay visible. I’m not kidding.” He sounded like a father. She nodded and Eric released her. “Suck it up. I don’t want people blaming me for your stage fright.” “Okay.” She sounded as vulnerable as the day Greg met her.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

“Don’t mess with me. You don’t want to piss me off.” Eric could be intimidating when he wanted. Greg had never heard him use a threatening tone with Kate before but it was working. She bit her lip and shook her head that she didn’t want to upset him. “Go out there and don’t make us regret coming to see your show.” Matt gave her a big hug. “You’ll be fantastic.” “And if not, so the hell what?” Eric teased. She grinned a little. “You’re right. It isn’t a crisis and if it goes poorly no one will be hurt.” Eric and Matt went to find their seats.

196

“Aren’t you glad I’m such a puppet now?” Kate asked Greg as they walked to the dressing rooms. “I hadn’t seen it for so long, I plum forgot.” He gave her a big kiss. “Now go have fun except when you have to kiss Chris. You can’t enjoy that part.” She nodded but didn’t crack a smile at his semi-joke. “Kate, where did you go to?” Olga called as they walked backstage, where most of the cast was standing around, those in the first number close to their entrances. Greg ran over to join the other pirates. “I felt sick and went out for some air.” She lied easily. Greg wondered if she finally learned that knack from her brothers. He was glad he learned to detect truth from lies. He would need it going forward if she could deceive him. “It’s nerves. Ignore them.” “I’ll be fine.” She sounded like she meant it. Eric’s orders overrode her personal doubts. Kate didn’t have to be on stage until after the first number. She had the second song to sing solo. She faded slightly before taking the stage but she pushed it back. Stepping out from behind the curtain she spoke her first line, “Nay, dear master, my mind has long been gnawed by the cankering tooth of mystery. Better have it out at once.” Then she slid into her song and after her first verse, she let the repetition from the many weeks of practice take over. Greg felt her tension ease. Unfortunately, worrying about her fears was the only thing keeping his at bay and his personal concerns crept up on him. He had a line shortly after her song was complete, a line that suddenly escaped his memory.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

“Always act in accordance with the dictates of your conscience, my boy, and chance the consequences.” Kevin recited easily and looked to Greg to speak his part.

197

“Besides, we can offer you but little temptation to remain with us. We don’t seem to make piracy pay.” Greg had opened his mouth unsure what would come out but the right words spilled out of their own accord. On cue, Greg jumped back from Kevin who pretended to be insulted by his remark and the audience laughed. Hearing the appropriate reaction from those watching gave him reassurance. “I’m sure I don’t know why, but we don’t.” After that, he let his automatic reflexes lead. He was a puppet to his learned lines and movements. His opinion was that they over rehearsed for those many weeks until that moment when the trained mechanization kicked in. Between acts the girls had to switch costumes. Brad’s temporary self-doubt had passed and he too quickly changed clothes. Greg talked to Chris since they didn’t need to change and they weren’t on stage for the first song after intermission. Chris’ cue came and he entered on stage for his role. Greg was glad to be in the mock fight at the end of the production knowing it was almost finished. Kate stepped forward as Ruth to deliver the dues ex machina resolution. They coupled up for the final dance. Kate kissed Chris on his cheek and he feigned embarrassment as the curtain fell completing their first run. It rose again and the cast took their bows in order of role seniority. Brian handed Meg a bouquet of long stem roses. She had given a stellar performance. Jim was ready with a smaller arrangement for Kate when she took her bow. The curtain fell again and the cast sighed in united relief.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM
 Frankie Makes an Effort

198

After removing their stage make-up and putting on their street clothes, the cast joined the throngs of parents and friends for refreshments. Greg was out before the girls. He found Jim with his family. Angela was hugging Ian. “You were wonderful.” “I was scared at first but then it went away.” Ian was always too forthcoming. “Me too.” Greg echoed. He was proud of Ian. Angela gave him a big hug. “Best pirate of the crew.” She was the proud stepmother. For the first time in his life, Greg had a real mom. He blinked back some water from his eyes. “Thanks.” He wasn’t the best pirate but she thought so and it touched him. “You kids were fabulous.” Jim said. “I was worried for a second when Kate took a moment too long for her first line.” “You wouldn’t believe how scared she was.” Greg leaned in so that no one would overhear. “She disappeared and couldn’t undo it until Eric ordered her too.” Jim laughed and shook his head. “She has too many things rattling around in her brain. Good thing she can’t stand up to her big brother.” “She’s come a long way.” Andy remembered how shy Kate was when she first moved in with Jim. “I guess Greg has told you about my mishap.” Kate frowned overhearing Andy’s comment. “We love you more for conquering it.” Jim gave her a half hug and kissed the top of her head. “And no matter how ridiculous the costume, you were still the prettiest girl on stage.” Kate’s role was an older frumpy woman. “What about Brad? That boy can sing fast.” Angela glanced at Brad talking to his parents not far from them. “That isn’t an easy song to walk on stage and belt out.” “You should have heard his audition song.” Kate told them about the silly Scotsman song. Andy threw his head as he gave a hearty chuckle. “That boy is a nut. Did he use any…” Andy used his pointing finger to twitch his nose like Bewitched wondering if Brad used speed to help him sing.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

“Perhaps a little.” Greg smirked.

199

“Well, if it helps.” Andy shrugged. He wouldn’t have been so cavalier if it was a sporting match. Andy had a strong sense of good sportsmanship but alls fair in a noncompetitive play. “There’s Sister Regina.” Ian pulled Angela by the hand. “I want you to meet her.” He took their parents to meet the nun who conducted the band. “You have a neat stepbrother.” Jim watched the new family. “We’re aren’t half bad as a clan.” Greg was glad Andy remarried. It had worked out very well. The warm fuzzy feeling from Angela hadn’t passed and he savored it. “And who is this handsome man?” Olga walked up between Kate and Greg. She was prettier than usual with her hair down from her typical ponytail. “Olga, this is my father Jim.” Kate smiled broadly. “You have a talented daughter.” Jim turned red with Kate. He was older but he had a similar allergy to spotlight attention, after all, Kate didn’t get it from the Thomas side of the family. “You have no idea. I hear you were instrumental in teaching her dance numbers. All I heard about for weeks was how wonderful Olga is.” Olga batted her eyes at the praise. “She’s a natural dancer. St. Ignatius’ steals too many of the quality students.” “Not a fan?” Jim said nervously. He loved his alma mater. “I went to Catholic school in my day. That was long ago.” She rolled her eyes. “Maybe ten years ago?” Jim gave a purposely-low estimate. She giggled at his flattery. “Closer to twice that.” Kate furrowed her brows at Greg. Are they flirting? She asked mentally. Whatever it is, it’s kind of creepy to watch? She hid a snicker and Jim caught her. He’s telling us to buzz off if we aren’t going to behave. Does that mean she isn’t evil? Greg asked. Kate didn’t like Holly because she wasn’t honest. He originally attributed it to the fact that no woman would pass Kate’s approval system. But since she was

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


200

correct that Holly was up to no good, he returned to wondering how willing she would be to a new woman in Jim’s life. “I’ve got to find the twins and Brian.” Kate spoke aloud to excuse them from Jim and Olga. Greg whispered in her ear, “That was smooth only mentioning your brothers and not you mother. Sometimes I don’t see how you are related to them, like when you had stage fright. And then there are moments like that and it’s clear you are part Thomas.” Kate took his remark as a compliment. In that context, it was. “She isn’t evil. I like her.” “And she’s kind of hot.” “Greg, she is twice your age.” “I meant for an old lady.” He joked. Greg could feel that Kate was much more relaxed. The next night wasn’t going to be a problem. They walked up to the larger half of Kate’s family. Gerard and her parents gave them both warm congratulations. “Four o’clock.” Matt whispered to Eric as Kate and her parents chatted. Eric nonchalantly glanced up and Greg subtly followed his gaze. There was a tall slender woman standing with Coach Evans. She was stunning and stood out because of her height and honey blond hair. She was even with Coach Evans, may be six feet. She pulled out a blackberry and typed a quick note and put it back in her purse. “You already have a blond.” Eric responded. “For you. A change of habit is good once in a while.” “I’d break the rule for her.” He admitted. “Did you see the hot little number Jim’s talking up?” “There are a lot of good looking women here tonight. But the tall one was looking this way before. I’m sure she was checking you out.” Eric glared. “Because I am so much prettier than you.” Greg laughed and they realized he was eavesdropping. They must have started a mental conversation because they were still looking towards the blond. Gerard had to make some rounds since many of his students were involved. Ron and Sandy went to get something to drink.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

“You were perfect and I could see you all the way through.” Eric ridiculed his sister. “You were mean to me before the play.” Kate tried to give him a fierce stare. “For your own good little sister.” Matt nodded his head. “He hated every minute.”

201

Kate snickered at the joke but Greg believed Matt’s words. Eric didn’t like to confront Kate. He was much more willing to challenge his brothers but Kate was fragile in his mind. He did it for her and he didn’t enjoy a moment of it. “I heard you couldn’t snap out of a vanishing act. Frankie is going to freak when you tell her.” Brian nudged Kate. “Speaking of the devil, did you guys know she was coming?” Eric pointed to Father Francis and Frankie. She was wearing a black cocktail dress. She waved at them and gave Kate and Greg the thumbs up. “And who do you think she wore that for?” “I thought you gave up on her.” Matt sounded disappointed. “Clearly she realized she had to do something more drastic to get me interested again. That dress is evidence she wants another chance.” Eric was probably right. If Eric was in it for the chase, she was in it to keep the chase going. She upped the ante. “Tell me I’m not as bad as him.” Matt turned to Kate and Brian. The good-looking twin is always the evil one. Greg mentally told Matt. You weren’t supposed to be listening to us. He was embarrassed that Greg overheard their egomaniacal bantering. “No one is as good at being bad as Eric.” Kate vowed not hearing Greg’s joke. “Some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them.” Eric’s wicked smirk brightened his face. “Hello.” Frankie walked up. “And wipe that silly grin off. It’s my standard go to outfit.” She was blushing a little and smiling too hard for any of them to believe her even if they didn’t learn how to decipher truth from lies. “I have some interesting news. Guido made a jail break attempt on Wednesday. He was moved to a higher security cell.” “What happened?” Greg asked wondering what that meant to their group. “I don’t the details but that means that Tyler and Deborah decided to move without you.”

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


202

“Do you think they will try again since it failed?” Matt wanted to believe it was over. “Or worse, will they try to get Greg to help again?” “They could try Greg again but if they felt they couldn’t approach him before they would need help to get to him. If they get more help, why not use it to get Guido out of jail. I think it’s a good sign.” She stopped herself. “I’m sorry. Here I am all shop as usual. You two were great. And Meg was a wonderful Mabel. She sings like a professional.” Greg was impressed. She stopped herself and was friendly. She was trying to get Eric’s interest revitalized and doing a good job of it. “We’re glad you came.” Kate said sincerely. “Where’s your other half?” Greg had only seen them apart once. “He went to talk to an old friend on the police force in Los Angeles to get the full story on Guido. He hides it better than me but he is all business all the time as well.” Greg didn’t believe it. Even if Henry had the inclination, and he did, Frankie was worse. Maybe Henry was better at being approachable but that was a big benefit. “You just need someone to show you a good time.” Eric had just the someone in mind for the task. “Wouldn’t he have to ask me out again for that to happen?” It was the second time that night that Greg and Kate stumbled onto a flirting couple. It was more disturbing with Jim and Olga but it was still awkward to watch Eric and Frankie. “Come on kiddies, let’s go talk to someone else.” Matt wrangled the others away. “You’re a natural wingman.” Greg joked as they moved on. “Not a subtle one but a natural.” “Why be subtle when they can read each other’s minds left and right? They deserve to know we aren’t unaware of their little game.” “Do you get that?” Greg wondered if Matt understood the connection that he missed. “Not really. She is needlessly intricate.” Matt answered honestly. Was he as opinionated as Eric? He must be. There weren’t a lot of differences between the two. How would he deal if he didn’t care for Eric’s choice? Something about Matt seemed more manipulative than Eric being that he was less confrontational. Pointing out the blond was a clue to look for new options.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


203

“She’s all right.” Kate tried to convince herself as much as the others. She didn’t believe it would manifest into anything substantial either way. Even after writing it off, she still didn’t see it as much of a potential. Matt nudged his head in a different direction. “Who’s the honey blond?” They turned to see Coach Evans talking to the same gorgeous woman Matt and Eric were scrutinizing earlier. Definitely he wanted to find a better prospect for Eric. “I don’t know. Maybe Coach Evans’ girlfriend.” Greg guessed. “She has been keeping an eye on us.” Matt warned. “I thought all women liked you guys.” Greg joked. “That’s Eric’s philosophy, not mine.” Matt was more modest by a sliver. “She’s a looker.” Kate rolled her eyes. “You have Joann.” “Just because I’m on a diet doesn’t mean I can’t read the menu.” Matt’s quick wit quipped. Greg didn’t think that was why he asked about her. He had pointed her out to Eric as they scoped out the feminine landscape. He was bringing her up again for a reason. “Yeah but people who don’t look at the menu keep their diets better.” Kate scolded with her equally rapier wit. The blond was playing on her blackberry again and scrutinizing Eric. She glanced at their group and put her phone away. Matt was right. She had been checking Eric out. How odd that he could tell when they are identical and standing side by side. Empathy gave the Thomas folks insights on everything. Kate and Greg made a quick stop to say hi to Brad and his parents and then headed for Meg and her family. Dave was impressed with all of them but his little sister Meg had blown him away. Miss Carter stopped by to congratulate the kids and meet Meg’s parents. Greg heard Chris’ thoughts looking for them and he excused himself and Kate. “Where are we going?” Kate wondered. “Chris was looking for us.” “Oh.” “Are you mad that he asked me and not you.” Greg’s eyes darted to hers looking for telling signs. “That’s fine. Either way, he’ll get both of us.” And Kate meant it.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

Greg’s Second Mistake

204

There weren’t any hard set rules about which night to attend but it was encouraged that St. Iggy’s parents attend the first night and Santa Katrina parents the second. It was easier the second time around. Of course it helped Greg and Kate that none of their families were in the audience. Chris made sure they met his parents. His father had met Greg from baseball camp and his mother remembered that Kate was his date for a dance the year before. Greg met his older brother Doug for the first time. Brad and Auggie tossed a coin to see who would throw the wrap party and Brad won. After ditching the parents the cast and crew reconvened at his house for the biggest party Greg had ever seen from either school. Since the whole school was invited, Santa Katrina too, freshmen and the teachers included, Brad broke with tradition and went alcohol free. Ian was ecstatic to go to a real high school party. Greg didn’t break it to him that it wasn’t as cool as a drinking party. Ian’s classmates were awed that he knew the party thrower by name. Brad made sure they saw that Ian was his good pal. Greg had the best friends. Ian gained instant status in his group and was becoming one of the coolest kids in his class. The twins opted out of the kiddy party as they called it. Brian went for Meg’s sake and to see a lot of friends from the basketball and baseball teams. Eric was on a second date with Frankie. Kate had mixed feelings about it, which was an improvement over absolute resistance. Olga had passed her standards but Frankie still had some ground to make up. Regan hadn’t attended either performance but deigned to make an appearance at the party. She flirted shamelessly with Greg the couple of times she found him alone and less aggressively in front of Kate. Kate didn’t take it well and they moved on to avoid her. Miss Carter was the VIP teacher from St. Iggy’s for the night, outshining Father Francis and Sister Rene combined – a near impossible feat. She floated around from group to group with Mr. Philips and Olga. Sister Regina, the musical director, kept a lower profile but made the rounds to the band members.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


205

Coach Evans escorted the same tall blond lady in her early twenties. She had a thin athletic built and moved gracefully. Greg was impressed because she was much younger than Coach Evans until another woman joined them and put her arm around his coach. Then he remembered that Coach Evans was a married man. He wondered who the blond was and how she fit into the mix. Overtaken by curiosity he went to see his coach and check out the honey blond up close and personal. “I bet you’re glad we don’t have to work baseball practice around rehearsals any more.” “No more sharing my players. You’re all mine.” Coach Evans sneered as he rubbed his hands together like an old time villain from the pre-talkies days. “Greg, this is my wife, Monica.” She was attractive and they were a cute couple. Greg shook her hand. He had seen her at a couple of games before not realizing her relation to Coach Evans. She was a tall, about five foot nine, but was dwarfed by the blond. “And this is Miss Becket. She’s replacing Mr. Stewart.” “Hello.” Greg greeted. She seemed too young to teach. He guessed she had just graduated from college. He was going to have a hard time concentrating on chemistry when she started teaching. “Nice to meet you.” She said pleasantly through extreme anxiety. Teaching high school was a taxing career and she would need to toughen up quick if she intended to last. “I wanted to say hi. I should get back to Katie before she gets into trouble.” He joked. At least he learned the mystery of the blond. Rather boring after the modest build up. Why would Matt have picked her out? Was he just looking out for Eric’s wellbeing? Or trying to find him an alternative to Frankie? “Better yet, bring her by. Miss Becket will be pulling double duty as the girls tennis coach.” Coach Evans suggested. “Kate is the best in the school. She’s the star of the team and she promised to play in the tournament next month. We can’t lose. I have a bet with the coach at Santa Katrina.” “I look forward to meeting her.” Lori’s eyes darted to Kate. She had already pegged her from the student body probably from the playbill’s cast list. “We’ll stop by later.” Greg promised and returned to his friends. Greg found Kate chatting with Lindsay and Carrie. By the time he pulled her away the teachers had left the party. It was after eleven. They strolled to the outskirts of the backyard for some privacy.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

“Is this one of your new dresses?” Greg asked looking over his girlfriend admiringly.

206

“Do you like it? I got it in Hawaii.” Kate twirled a little to accentuate the flare of the skirt. She had nice legs. “It’s not blue jeans but it will do.” Greg kissed her. “I’m wearing Keds.” She pointed her foot to show white sneakers. He ran his hand through her hair pulling it behind her ear as he did. “That helps.” He kissed her neck. “Shoot.” “What?” “Meg and Brian are coming.” He smiled. “We’ll continue this later.” “We will.” She gave him her irresistibly tempting look that made him think maybe waiting until college was too far away. They chatted about nothing important, as teenagers should. Meg admitted she was glad it was behind her. It was a lot of work and too much pressure. Greg lost interest as his friends continued talking about the play, school and the prom. Suddenly, around midnight Greg sensed Tyler and Deborah for the first time in weeks. “They’re here!” He startled his friends. His body was petrified feeling predators nearby. “Who?” Kate looked around for the twins. She had let her guard down over the eventless weeks and danger was a distant thought. “Tyler and Deborah.” Everyone froze. Greg sent a telepathic message to Eric. Brian just told us. Eric replied. That was fast. Greg sent messages to Brad and Chris. “Let’s grab Ian and get out of here.” Kate’s phone rang. “It’s Eric. Get Ian. I’ll be right behind you.” She laid her hand on Greg’s chest as she pushed him to go to his stepbrother. He wanted her to come with them but the party would be too loud for her to talk on the phone. “Hurry up.” Greg and Meg left Brian and Kate. Why did Eric bother with a phone call? Noise wouldn’t be a problem with telepathy.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

“We will.” Brian called to him as Kate and him walked farther away from the hullabaloo for privacy.

207

Greg and Meg rushed into the house toward Ian. Chris and Brad were on the move as well and they converged at the same time. Ian sat with other band members. He peaked up at them wondering why they were all out of breath. “Ian, we should get going.” Greg said tapping his watch as if it was because of the hour. An image of Brian flashed through his head. His face was contorted as if angry about something. Greg wondered what Eric was telling them that he would see through Kate and cause Brian to get mad. Whatever it was, it stopped. “Okay. I’ll see you guys at school.” Ian got up. “What do we do?” Greg asked. “What’s wrong?” Ian asked seeing that it wasn’t about making curfew. “Remember those guys we told you about? We think they’re close.” Brad shrugged as if it wasn’t a big deal and they had it under control. “Take the little brother home.” “They’re here, at your house. We can’t leave you either.” Greg wasn’t going to let anyone be alone. Brad rolled his eyes. “They aren’t after me.” “Greg’s right. We stay together.” Chris was a team man and you didn’t leave a man behind. “Take Ian home and I’ll stay with Brad. Send one of the twins just to be safe.” It wasn’t Eric. Greg heard in his mind. It was Brian and his mind felt fuzzy and frantic, shaky if that is possible in a thought. “Shit!” Horror gripped Greg as he ran to the backyard speeding up with as little notice as possible. His friends were right behind him with Ian. Rocky barked off to the side of the yard. When they got close Brian was on the ground gripping his side. Kate’s cell phone lay uselessly in the grass. “They tasered me.” His voice quaked from the electrical shock. “And took Kate.”

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

“Ian, stay with them!” Greg shouted and ran for his car. Chris followed him and jumped in

208

without asking or waiting to be asked. Greg drove in the direction of Tyler and Deborah. He couldn’t get a firm grip on Kate’s presence. “She must be out cold.” “You can find her though, right?” “Sort of but if they get much farther I’ll lose it.” Greg sped down the windy mountain roads leading out of Brad’s neighborhood. “They’re going faster. They must be on the freeway already.” He drove dangerously fast blowing through stop signs. A car honked at him who had the right of way but didn’t proceed when Greg didn’t slow to a stop. On the commercial streets the other automobiles on the road were slowing obstacles as Greg weaved through. Once he was on the freeway he snaked around the cars trying to catch Tyler and Deborah essences. He had lost them but he hoped he could catch up after a few miles. They couldn’t be far ahead. “Aren’t they after you or Ian?” Chris held on to the handle to keep from bouncing too much. “I don’t know what they’re doing.” Greg kept his temper. How was he to know what Tyler and Deborah wanted? They had Kate and that was all he knew. He was glad Chris was there and he didn’t need to blow off steam at the risk of losing his assistance. If they caught up to his hoodlum relatives, Chris would keep things even. He wasn’t in the mood for questions or any talk. “Ian’s safe. Meg has taken him and Brian home. Matt is going to Brad’s to check things out.” “Is Brian going to be all right?” “He’s already feeling better. Eric and Frankie are behind us about a mile.” Greg was keeping tabs mentally with the others. A few minutes later Eric sped past them in his dad’s Mercedes. “Shit!” Greg cursed. “What?” “He’s pissed.” It was an understatement. Greg could feel the anger radiate from the car when Eric passed them. It was so hot he didn’t think he needed his metaphysics to register it. “At you?” “Brian and me. We need to keep up. If he gets to them first he may go too far.” Greg pushed the gas pedal. Eric was exploding.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

Chris gulped. “Would he do that?” He understood that Greg meant that Eric could kill.

209

“He has a temper and Kate is more important to him than I could even explain.” Greg wasn’t sure if he was any further from homicidal than Eric. Chris had seen enough of Eric and Kate to know it wasn’t an exaggeration. “Frankie will keep him from doing anything stupid.” “He’s stronger than her and Eric isn’t someone you easily subdue.” Greg realized he was freaking Chris unnecessarily. He didn’t know what Eric would do. He would get Kate safe first and by then Tyler may run off. “Frankie will help. She knows Tyler. She may have an idea where they’re going but then if he knows she’s helping us, he may have switched locations.” Greg’s mind raced through countless possibilities as he zoomed down the road. His Bronco did not have the speed advantage that the Mercedes had.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM
 Lost
They drove for an hour before giving up the chase. He stopped along the coast just outside of Santa Monica. They had lost Kate. Frankie was by the Mercedes waiting for them. She trembled, her clinical manner lost to the dire situation. “Where’s Eric?” Chris asked as they hopped out.

210

Greg heard anguished wailing. Eric was kneeling in the sand and screaming at the ocean. A flurry of sand swirled around him at implausible speeds. “You better stay back.” Frankie held up a hand to stop Greg from going to Eric. “He’s in a bad place.” “It’s my fault.” Greg was close to losing his control. He wanted to cry or tear something apart or both. How could he let Kate be taken? “They would’ve tasered whoever was with her.” Frankie stated wisely but it wasn’t soothing. “Or worse.” “They would’ve taken me instead!” Greg wouldn’t allow for anyone else to take the blame. “They were after me and they only have her because she’s close to me and I wasn’t there.” It was San Francisco all over again. No, worse. San Francisco was a brief interlude. Kate was already gone for over an hour and they had no idea when she would be back. Or if she would be back… Frankie walked up to Greg invading his personal space. She could be off-putting when she wanted to. There was a policeman like quality to her demeanor at times, no doubt learned from her father. “Get it out tonight. We don’t have time for this guilt bullshit.” “Tonight? We can’t get her tonight?” Chris voice cracked. She didn’t expect to find Kate right away. “They’re gone into hiding. Kate must be unconscious. She’ll let us know where she is when she can.” She moved back to give Greg his space again. “She’s a smart girl and extremely gifted. She’ll get to us or get out. You have to trust her.” Even through her frightened state, she meant it. Kate was the best at all forms of communication and had many defensive skills on top of that.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


211

Greg paced. He couldn’t think of anything else to do and thinking about Kate was driving him mad. The sand flurry around Eric settled. Greg hoped he had spent some of his excess energy. Eric stood up and slowly trekked up to the shoulder. His face was irate but his walk was regulated. He hung his head low in light of the dismal lose. “Eric, we’ll find her.” Frankie gave him a hug. He cried in her arms. A chill went up Greg’s spine to see Eric so broken. Eric was the strongest of them all, emotionally, mentally, physically and metaphysically. And if things got away from him, he always worked it out to his benefit in the end. The chill intensified when Eric eyes glared at him. Before he could fully react Eric was out of Frankie’s arms and hit Greg in the eye. It was with incredible speed. Greg flew back into his truck and crumbled to the ground. He got on all fours and reached for his eye. In the split second that he touched the wound his hand was covered in blood. It was gushing. “Get up!” Eric yelled. He moved forward at normal speed and Chris stepped in his way. “No.” He said to Eric as he braced for a similar impact. Eric pushed him aside with telekinesis as if he was a piece of tissue in a hurricane. “She’s gone!” “I know.” Greg said quietly as he started crying. “I know!” “My sister is with thugs that are related to you!” He shouted. “Eric, don’t!” Frankie put her hand on his arm. “This isn’t his fault.” “And you?” He threw her hand off his arm and turned on Frankie. “What good did all that training do? You treated her like your personal lab rat for months. Weekend after weekend of preparing and planning and Kate is gone!” He fell to the ground. He threw his fists on the pavement. The old warn out road cracked under the force of his powers. Chris stood Greg up. “Shit. You’re going to need stitches. Do you have anything to stop the bleeding?” Greg had a gym towel in his car and he used that to apply pressure on the open wound by his eye. The twins’ blue Accord screeched to a stop behind Greg as he shut the door to his Bronco. Matt jumped out.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

“Damn! Did Eric do that to you?” Matt seemed composed. “It’s okay. I deserve worse.” Greg was torn up.

212

“Where’s my brother?” Matt walked around the car and found Eric still kneeling on the dirt at the edge of the pavement. “Come on, get up.” He ordered. “Go away.” Eric’s frenzy was peaking again. Greg took a couple of steps back. It was likely Eric would go after Matt next but Matt’s own temper wasn’t far from Eric’s. Matt was more sedate than Eric in the same way a 6.9 quake is more sedate than a 7.0. If you had a precise instrument you may be able to measure the difference. Either way you had to walk the property for damage and signs of stress. If Eric decided to go for Greg again he wasn’t ready to take another hit without being knocked out. If he hadn’t fortified with telekinesis he would have been out already. His mind was hazy from the blow and he didn’t think he could do anything that took even a small amount of concentration. The only chance he had if something wicked his way came would be to fight back. Matt seized Eric by the shirt collar and pulled him to his feet. It was a fool’s errand to challenge Eric. He was too powerful with pure rage. Matt threw him back against a rock wall. Immediately Eric rushed him. He was moving faster than twice his speed without any help. Matt stepped aside and grabbed Eric’s arm. He spun him around throwing him at the rock again. That time Matt pinned his twin. Eric struggled to break free but somehow Matt held him. “The more strength you summon the more we share. Do you really want to wear us both out right now?” Matt was raging in a different direction. “Hitting Greg isn’t going to fix this. We find Kate and then you can pulverize the bastard that took her.” Matt was as strong as Eric and contained him. Eric’s rage surged and he stirred to be released but Matt was a step ahead. Eric was surely blocking him out of his mind but that didn’t erase years of experience. Matt anticipated his every move. “We get Kate back. That is our prime objective. Got it?” Matt tried to steer Eric’s wrath in a useful direction. Eric’s head sagged and Matt backed off. In a swift maneuver Eric had Matt pinned in the same position he was in just moments earlier. In all the speed and confusion Greg wouldn’t have been able to

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


213

tell if they weren’t wearing different clothes. Eric slammed Matt against the same rock for effect. He held an arm across Matt’s chest. “I got it! Get Kate!” He released Matt. Matt was unfazed. “Frankie, take our car home? We’ll get it tomorrow. Chris can you see that Greg gets to a hospital.” He looked at Eric. “What do you think Dad’s going to think of Greg’s eye?” “Get Kate.” Eric replied. “And Tyler dies. That isn’t an option. I won’t make it linger but he dies.” Frankie drove off in the Accord. Eric sat in the passenger seat of the Mercedes trying to tame the savage beast. “Thanks.” Greg was grateful to Matt for helping. Who knows how long it would have taken to contain Eric without him. “Don’t think I wouldn’t have done the same thing if I was here first.” Matt said blandly. “Maybe worse. He likes you better.” It wasn’t a warning. It was pure factual speculation. Matt thought Eric had held back and wasn’t sure he could have done the same. Chris drove Greg to hospital in Santa Monica. The doctor sewed small stitches to keep the scarring to a minimum if at all. They told the doctor that he knocked his head on a car door. It was almost four when they were driving back to Santa Katrina. Greg called his dad and told him what happened. There was no preparing him for the eye. It was horrible and didn’t look like a simple hit from a closed fist. “Eric did that to you?” Andy was angry but it seemed mild after Greg had seen Eric’s unadulterated fury. But it was the disbelief that Eric would hurt Greg that rung through his voice. “He kind of lost control.” “I’ll say he did.” He ran his hand through his shaggy hair. “I can’t believe he’d hurt you.” “Dad, don’t make a big deal about the eye. It isn’t worth it. I should’ve stayed clear of him and I didn’t.” “And how do we keep Angela calm?” “I don’t know.” Greg sighed. “Get some sleep. Maybe you can reach Kate that way and find out where she is and if she is okay.”

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


214

Greg’s head snapped up. “You’re a genius. If I can reach her I can pull her through to our house.” “You can?” “It happened once. It was an accident and nothing happened.” He added the last part after realizing he said too much. If things weren’t so dire Andy may have attempted another father son talk but he just stared at Greg’s eye. “Get some sleep and I’ll let it pass if I find Kate in your room.” He gave his son a goodnight hug. As upset as Greg’s cut made him, Andy was lost in grief that Kate was missing and he wept. Greg tried to sleep but couldn’t shut his mind off. It was spinning with possibilities of where Kate was and how to get her back. Sleep was the best chance. He took a double dose of his painkiller hoping that would help the sleep to come. It did but it was restless. He tried to reach Kate but only got blackness.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

Mental Texting In the morning they started gathering at Jim’s house. Jim looked awful. “Oh Greg, what happened to you?” “Eric happened to him.” Matt answered from the sofa. “You didn’t tell me about that last night.” Jim accused Matt but kept his eyes on Greg’s cut.

215

“Sorry.” And Matt meant it. “After telling you about Kate I didn’t know how much more you could take.” “Is that why Eric isn’t here?” “He’s a little unstable. I don’t think he even realizes it was a dumb move yet.” Matt knew his brother well. It would pass but there wasn’t much to hurry him through except finding Kate safe. “Unstable?” Ron commented sarcastically. “Brian had to stay with Gerard last night. Eric wouldn’t stop yelling at him. We had a few instances of restraining him before he finally left for a run or to destroy something. He didn’t get home until five and who knows if he slept.” He waited to make sure you were back safely. Matt told Greg telepathically. That was surprising. Somewhere inside the rage was the real Eric. “He’s murderous. Sandy is with him. ” Ron had a calm exterior. It was covering an equally volatile wrath. “We’re all like that. Eric’s just lost to it. He won’t do anything stupid again. It’s just that it was Kate and you know how we all get about her…” Matt tried to give a defense for Eric’s actions. “We’ll worry about Eric when we have a plan. Let’s figure out how to find Kate.” Gerard wanted to get started. Waiting wasn’t going to generate progress. He hadn’t slept at all. Greg took a survey of the people and they were all ill looking. “I’m sorry.” His blameworthy conscious spoke. “I was the one with her.” Brian felt as guilty as Greg, perhaps more. “You can’t stop people who want to do harm.” Father Francis had a naturally soothing tone in his voice. “Why can’t she reach us yet?”

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

“They may have someone who can stop her or she isn’t alert.” Henry guessed. “Or they may have her drugged.”

216

Everyone’s face grew more somber. Jim finally sat down from pacing. It was too much for him. He wasn’t going to explode like the Thomases but he was overwhelmed with agony. “Won’t they try to reach me?” Greg asked. “They did to get to me.” “We don’t know that anymore.” Henry hated bearing more bad news to the family. “Their plan may have changed. They may force her help.” “That means they’ll have to let her think clearly.” Frankie added. “She has too many ways to reach us that eventually she’ll get a message across.” “Do we know where they may be?” Jim didn’t look up as he spoke. “Most gifts have a limited range and it’s an important factor.” “They were based in Santa Monica but that’s a big city and the greater Los Angeles area is even larger and more crowded. And we don’t know if they have relocated.” “Both are too far for telepathy.” Gerard closed his eyes in defeat or failed effort. “We can drive around and see if we can pick up any clues.” Henry suggested. “It’ll close the range. And we know they were headed south.” “Greg and I should go.” Eric entered with Sandy. “We can sense Kate better than anyone else.” “You aren’t going anywhere with Greg.” Angela stood up. Andy tried to hold her back but she wouldn’t have it. Everyone tensed. “He’ll live.” Eric replied remorselessly. “You aren’t the only one that loves Kate and Kate isn’t the only one that is loved here.” Angela didn’t back down. “Angela, we need him.” Andy argued. Eric was the best chance of getting Kate back. “He isn’t going to attack Greg again. We need to work together to get Kate.” “How can you say that when he hit Greg?” “If anyone can get Kate it will be Eric and Greg. Then we’ll sort out what happened last night.” Andy wanted Kate back. He hadn’t let himself get emotional about Greg’s eye. It wasn’t that he forgave Eric. He just didn’t have the energy to fight him and worry about Kate. He was prioritizing his emotions.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


217

“He overreacted.” Sandy spoke up. “You’re right. Eric and Greg have the best chance locating Kate.” “I agree but Eric isn’t ready.” Frankie had seen the worst of his fury. For a moment, when he turned on her, she may have thought he would hit her as well. He wouldn’t. Eric had a blank expression. “No one can stop me from helping.” He glanced at Matt. “Well, he can but he won’t.” “We’re going to get her back.” Matt was determined. He glared around the room emphasizing that he would not stop Eric from helping. The two of them were uncontrollable. Even at boot camp, they could out maneuver the others and that was fun and games in comparison. “You’re too volatile.” Frankie stated directly to Eric. “It’s not your call to make.” Ron said slowly to hold back his feelings. Greg could sense that Ron and all of Kate’s brothers were close to the same level of fury. He wasn’t scared. He wouldn’t get hit again – most likely. They had their focus and the one person that needed to fear was Tyler. The only problem would be covering up any potentially deadly outcomes. “I really don’t think that’s a good idea.” Frankie repeated as she undermined her own authority with doubt and uncertainty. The glass window shattered out into the patio. Greg turned to Eric but he was taken back by the sudden crash. Eric didn’t break it. “Eric is staying!” Ron’s voice rose. “And I’ll pay for the window.” Jim didn’t even look up. He didn’t care about the damage. Frankie and Henry glanced at each other. They didn’t like it. The twins were already teetering on chaotic and Ron was right behind them. Perhaps he just passed them up. It probably crossed their mind that Brian may as well be added to that unhinged mix. Angela sat back down with a sense of awe and somewhat convinced that Eric wouldn’t attack Greg again. If he did, there was protection to keep things from going as far as the night before. Chris and Brad were uneasy. “You know who the good guys and the bad guys are?” Brad asked Eric. He needed to believe that Eric wouldn’t go off on the wrong people again. “You’re a good guy.” Eric replied.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

“And him?” Chris pointed to Greg.

218

“He’s a good guy. I shouldn’t have hit him.” He spoke flatly because he held back his emotions but he meant it. “I’m not worried.” Greg wasn’t. He was prepared to take another hit and he didn’t expect it would come to that. Still he kept his empathetic feelers most closely attuned to Eric’s mood for any earlier indicators. “Things are getting out of hand. No one else is getting hurt.” Father Francis stood up. “We need to find a way to reach Kate and get her home.” “I tried to pull her into a dream last night but only got darkness.” Jim said. Eric, Matt, Brian and Greg admitted to trying the same thing. “That’s means she isn’t drugged. I can’t be sure but a drug couldn’t stop her from being pulled in from her unconsciousness.” Frankie was guessing but it wasn’t a wild stab in the dark. “They have a big crew and someone in it could have ways to stop her.” Henry said. “If so they will wear out or have to sleep themselves.” “Unless there is more than one. We all know families share these things.” Matt had got up to stand with Eric and his dad. There was restlessness in the room because of their unrestrained anger and Matt didn’t want them alienated. “We split up.” Eric took claim on his unofficial leadership role. “I’ll go with Mom, Matt and Grandpa, Brian and Dad, Jim and Andy, Brad and Chris, Dave and Meg, Greg with Frankie and Henry. That way we have a good mix of people and we can cover more ground. We start in Santa Monica.” “That’s not a bad idea.” Henry agreed. “Anyone finds her, you call me first.” He added unconditionally. Eric closed his eyes. Greg thought he might blow again and was trying to contain himself. Then an image of the playbill from their production flashed into Greg’s mind. Kate’s finger was circling his name on the cast list. Then it moved up to the role name of Frederic but only circled the last four letters. She was calling him and Eric. “Eric, are you seeing this?” Greg asked. “Yes.” There was optimism in his voice. They made contact. “What?” Ron urged not sure what was happening but sure it was Kate.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

“Kate is pointing to the hand out from the play.” Eric said softly.

219

“You can see it?” Andy was impressed. They had shared their gifts. He had seen the evidence but it was his gift being used and it amazed him. Greg saw her pick up a pen and she wrote out the alphabet. She pointed to C, then A, then N. “She’s spelling something out.” “We can see it.” Eric answered her question before she finished spelling. “Can you hear us?” She wrote a “yes.” “She said yes.” Greg told the others that couldn’t see the image. “Write what you need to tell us.” She wrote “no.” And started spelling out that she didn’t want them finding the paper. “Okay, spell it out. Do you know where you are?” Eric spoke aloud as he sent a telepathic message to Kate. “No.” Greg answered for the group as Kate pointed to the “no” again. “Do you have any idea?” Eric asked. “Ojai.” Greg read. “Ojai? Where?” Eric questioned. “I smell oranges.” Kate was smart. There were many groves in Ojai. When you drove though the groves the aroma filled the car. “How come you can’t use telepathy?” “Stopping it. One way force field.” “She’s brilliant.” Frankie said. “She can’t get out but your vision can get in and it isn’t limited by distance.” “If she hears us, she is receiving telepathy.” Gerard noted. “Crisis can make these things stronger.” “Basement.” She spelled and looked around her room that had a window leading up to the ground outside. She added numbers to the page. “More than 1 can stop me. “She isn’t drugged.” Jim relaxed a little. “Knocked out. Woke up in car. No sleep.” Shifts.”

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


220

“If she wasn’t able to sleep she wasn’t able to dream. Maybe we can reach her now. It would be us going in and we can pull her out.” Eric was excited. “No.” Kate pointed as Greg read. “U may come here.”

“She’s right. We don’t know how that happened.” Frankie didn’t like using the skills without assurance of the outcome and she hadn’t tested that one. It didn’t seem needed when considering a confrontation. “We can’t risk it.” “So what?” Eric spat. “At least she won’t be alone and I’ll get her out.” “No.” Greg repeated as Kate spelled. “There’s a sensor in the group.” “I’ll block myself and stay invisible until we get out.” Eric didn’t want her to be alone. “And I may be able to pull you to safety.” “I’ll do it.” Jim offered. “If anyone else can pull in someone, it would be me.” “It would be better if one of the kids do it.” Henry said. “If you go that way you aren’t going to be as useful as they can be. And you’ll be discovered.” Kate dropped the playbill. Deborah walked into the basement room carrying a brown bag and bottle of water. She walked over to her and picked up the paper. Greg couldn’t hear what they were saying. It was always a frustration when seeing through other people’s eyes. Deborah tossed the paper on a cot. It looked harmless enough. She checked her watch and left the food and water on the table. Tyler stood on the other side of the door but didn’t enter. “Are you hurt? Did they hurt you?” Eric wished he asked sooner. “No. Tyler won’t come in. I’m stronger than him.”

“Good girl.” Eric complimented. “We want to pull you here. I’ll pull you in a dream and if it goes the other way I’ll stay hidden.” “I’m going with you.” Greg spoke for himself. “Greg and Matt should go.” Frankie suggested. Eric didn’t need to protest. Matt wouldn’t allow it. “No, Eric goes.” “They may be trapped with her.” Gerard wanted to make sure they were all safe. “Do you have GPS on your phones?” Henry asked. “I do.” Eric answered.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

“Me too.” Greg added. “We’ll meet you in Ojai.” Henry offered.

221

“We aren’t sure that is where she is.” Sandy was worried. “It could be in Orange County for all we know.” “Then we reroute.” Father Francis said. “And we may have a van at school that is currently untraceable.” Eric’s wicked smile flashed briefly. “Are you sure you’re really a priest?” “It’s one of the gardeners. He won’t ask questions and they won’t be able to trace it.” “Why does that matter?” Angela asked. “Extra precaution.” Frankie stated. “How many people know she is there?” “Tyler, Deborah and 4 others. sensed me from upstairs. 2 guards, 1 helper and 1 that Sounds like

I hid quickly but can’t be sure.

most do not know I am here.” Greg read Kate’s response. “What is their plan?” Eric posed to Kate. “Fake jail break tonight. Duplication from Guido.” “Fake? Tyler is a fool to go near Guido let alone betray him.” Frankie knew the players and Guido wasn’t someone you crossed. “Okay, Eric and Greg try to reach her and we’ll be in the van.” Henry had faith. It was worth trying. “The faster we get her the better.” “Go to sleep.” Eric ordered Kate. “Yes.” Kate pointed. Greg saw the room move around as she reclined and then it went black. She had closed her eyes. He loathed losing contact. “I’m going in the van.” Ron insisted. “Me too.” Gerard wasn’t going to let them go without him. “Good. And we’ll need some of the kids.” Frankie said. She would have liked to keep the high schoolers out of it but they needed the extra manpower and they didn’t have a supplement source. “The Tyler wants to learn gifts.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


222

rest of you stay with Eric and Greg. If Kate comes here, let us know. If they cross over to her side, let us know.” She turned to Meg. “You should stay here?” “Why?” Meg sounded hurt. “We’ll need to stay in contact and you’re better at telepathy.” “Stay.” Dave hugged his sister. She nodded. Brian was relieved. Meg was as important to him as Kate was to Greg. Father Francis, Gerard, Ron, Henry, Frankie, Matt, Brian, Brad, Chris and Dave left to get the school van. If they found Kate, Father Francis could give them the rundown of what they were facing. “Really, why do they need an unmarked van at a Catholic school?” Eric shook his head. Greg took Eric’s little jokes as a sign that his confidence was restored. Hearing from Kate had lifted their spirits. Meg got Kate’s computer and pulled up a website to track Eric and Greg’s phones. Once she had a lock they were ready. Greg hoped he could fall asleep. He was exhausted but his mind was agitated. Eric went to the sofa in the den and Greg took the one in the living room. They put their cell phones on vibrate and in their pockets. If they vanished the others would call to wake them up. If Kate appeared they would wake them up. Greg felt weird falling asleep when people were watching him. It didn’t take as long as he feared to slip into slumber land. He found himself in the den, it was misty and Eric was hugging Kate. He reached her first. “Katie.” She tried to break free but Eric held tight. After some struggling she went to Greg’s waiting arms. “What happened to you?” She saw the cut on by his eye. “Don’t worry about it.” Greg delighted in her embrace and loved the smell of her hair. She never felt so good. “Okay.” Kate pulled away. “I need to get something to eat. I didn’t want to eat their food.” She grabbed some leftovers and water and ate quickly. “When this happened before, we fell asleep in our dream.” She spoke with food in her mouth too hungry to stop. They sat in a row with Kate in the middle linking their arms. Kate rested her head on Greg’s shoulder as Greg rested on her head. Eric curled up on her other shoulder. “You should probably vanish.”

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

She yawned. She hadn’t slept. Hopefully the others wouldn’t misread the clues that they were only invisible and hadn’t crossed to the other side. Greg wasn’t sure where they would wake up but he wasn’t going to let go. Good or bad, they would be together. He didn’t have trouble resting with Kate by his side. He woke with a jerk.

223

Meg was shaking his shoulders. “She’s here.” They ran to the den and Kate was in Jim’s arms. Eric had pulled her through. He had a very satisfied and relieved expression. Sandy took her from Jim and gave her an equally long and hard squeeze. As everyone passed Kate around like a rag doll Jim asked Eric to let the others know she was safe. “They’re on their way back. Matt says they are about an hour away.”

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM
 Home Coming

224

Eric didn’t let Kate walk far from him. He shadowed her closely. Jim stayed close as well. He was not as blunt as Eric but he watched her every move. Even Zuzu and the puppies stayed within a yard of her. Greg gave her space. Since she was taken the night before his mind was split on two things, guilt and getting her home. Without the latter, his guilt was all consuming. Eric permitted her to escape long enough to shower and change. The pets stayed in her room until she was done. Once she was back Eric was by her side. Kate tried to let the constant watch pass but it was eventually too much. “I’m really back.” She announced. “Honey, we were just scared.” Jim stroked her hair. “I’ve never been so terrified in all my life and I was there when you were shot.” She hugged her dad again. “I’m fine. Really.” Jim held her for over a minute. “Dad, I’m right here.” “I know.” He kissed her head. “I love you so much.” “I love you too.” She pulled away. “All of you. I wasn’t too worried. I believed we would find a way out.” She frowned at Greg. “Can you tell me what happened now?” “It’s nothing.” Greg lied. “Won’t even scar.” “But how did you get that gash by your eye? It looks painful. Did someone pull a knife on you?” She gently touched the side of his temple. Greg’s head bent into her open hand. The joy he felt from her touch outshined any sensitivity from the wound. “I did it.” Eric confessed. “I kind of lost it.” She dropped her hand and spun around. “What? Why would you do that?” “I left you alone.” Greg believed Eric was justified. “There were four of them at the party.” “Four?”

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

“Yes. They only had to wait until we were in smaller groups. They allowed themselves to be

225

sensed hoping we would think they were after Ian. One of them called my number. My caller ID read Eric Thomas. They must have a number under that name. It didn’t register until later that I have you under just Eric. I was foolish to think it was you. I mean, why would you bother with the phone anyway?” “I shouldn’t have hit Greg.” Eric regretted it. His rage had subsided and he let his repentance show. “I know it wasn’t your fault.” “It wasn’t the first time I did something stupid like that.” Greg frowned. “And it’s because of me that they even know about Kate.” Kate rolled her eyes. “And it was my fault that Gran hurt you. You can’t beat yourself up over everything.” “It’s not like I didn’t open the car door for you, Katie. You were kidnapped.” “I’m home now and we’ll do better next time.” She had really learned to face danger. “Next time?” Jim didn’t like the sound of that but their list of foes was growing. There was no guarantee that things were ended. Living normal lives wasn’t in the near future. “You can’t do that again.” Kate embraced Eric. “I love you just how you are but you can’t hurt people that are helping us, especially Greg. I love him.” Greg’s heart thumped to hear her words. She had said it without hesitation in front of her parents and her scary overprotective brother Eric. “If it helps, I did use some restraint.” Eric tried to joke. Greg wasn’t sure it was all jest. He could have done far more damage if he really wanted to, even if he had fought back which he didn’t. Faster than Greg’s eyes could focus, Matt’s body blurred past him to Kate and took her from Eric. Brian was next and Kate made another round of hugs from the van team. Even Frankie and Henry hugged her, which was unusual for their persistent clinical personalities. Brad and Chris gave her kisses on her cheek. Father Francis wiped away a tear and mouthed “thank you” towards heaven. Gerard was last in line and he saw no reason to let her go. Kate was spent from all the love but she allowed it. She would have felt the same if the shoe was on the other foot. “What can you tell us?” Frankie sat Kate down on the recliner. “Tell us everything. Start from the party.”

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

Kate filled them in up to the call. “When Brian and I were alone I couldn’t hear anything. I assumed it was a bad connection until I realized that when Eric called it only read his first name on my

226

phone. That was when someone tasered Brian and he was down. I was hit hard in the back of the head. I think it was the guy that knocked me out with telekinesis.” She paused to take a long breath. “When I woke up, we were in a SUV and my hands were tied. I couldn’t undo the knot or move anything or even reach you mentally. It was the girl. I could tell it was a one-way block because I could hear thoughts from you. Mostly guilt and rage.” She glanced up at Greg and Eric who sat next to each other at the dinner table. “The shield was tight on me. She could flex it in and out to various sizes.” “There was another girl at the house that could do the same thing and they took turns guarding me. They couldn’t hold it for more than a couple of hours at a time. Once I was in the cell they expanded to let me do things in the room. I guess they wanted to test me but I didn’t do anything until Tyler came in. I didn’t mean to but when he walked in he flew back against the wall on the other side of the room. After that he kept away and let Deborah deal with me.” “She would bring me food but I wouldn’t eat it. They were going to try to drug me so that I couldn’t focus and the two women blocking me could rest. She explained that they were going to get Guido from jail and I would have to help them. She wanted me to learn his duplication and teach them so they could confuse the security guards. I told her it wasn’t that easy to learn and teach someone I wasn’t close to and she got really upset and slapped me.” Everyone cringed and Eric’s fist curled up. “It didn’t hurt. I guess the telekinesis strengthened me. I read her mind and they just wanted me to learn his trick and show them. She wants Tyler to take over as the leader and figured if he had a more offensive skill he would be accepted and they wouldn’t need to get Guido. He frightens them both and Deborah despises him.” “Do you know when they were going to try to break him out?” Henry asked. “We were suppose to be on the road by ten and it was a three hour drive.” “You were probably right about being in Ojai.” Frankie did the math. “It isn’t going to go as planned.” Kate told her. “How so?”

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


227

“They had a visitor from a prison guard they were bribing to help them communicate with Guido. I could hear his mind. He must have not expected someone to pick up his thoughts because they were coming in through the one-way force field. He didn’t think the pay off was enough and had made other arrangements with Guido. Tyler wanted him to catch the real Guido when his multiples started to appear but the guard is going to help Guido escape regardless.” “We need to let Joe know.” Henry pulled out his phone. “What is the guard’s name?” Frankie asked. “I don’t know. Who is Joe?” “A friend on the LAPD.” “Sorry. I don’t have a name. I only got information that was crossing his mind. I couldn’t probe.” “Do they know the force field is one way?” “Yes. They could move things in my cell and block my eyes. Deborah did that a couple of times at first when she would come in. I heard you planning to split up and look in Santa Monica. I realized that if you guys were on the other side, you would be able to see my notes but I didn’t want to write anything. I don’t think they know we could do that and I didn’t want to leave any clues for them to find out.” “What do they know?” “Telekinesis, telepathy, speed, blocking and blacking out and they suspected we could sense them. They think telepathy and mind reading are the same. They don’t know how I can learn and teach but they know I can which is why they wanted to get me instead of Greg.” Kate’s speech metastasized through the group. The discoveries were mixed. The bad news is Tyler was more organized and determined and they foolishly underestimated his guile. The good news is that Tyler had underestimated Greg’s support team. More bad news is they weren’t untouchable. More good news they were able to correct things. “So when I pulled you in to get you, you came here in my dream because we were in the den in our dream.” Eric concluded. “It makes sense now. I wasn’t sure how it happened last time.” “Better to be safe than sorry.” Frankie said. “That’s why we test.”

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

Kate nodded. The sun was setting and Jim turned on the lights and ordered some delivery for dinner. Henry made a call to his police friend. He had an unofficial missing person pursuit for Kate that needed to be

228

cancelled. Their friend knew about their skills but most police did not. He would make a call to the prison but they probably wouldn’t take any extra precautions. Guido was already under maximum security. “It’s time we stopped waiting for them to come to us.” Eric picked up plates from people that had finished their meals. “Greg, you need to call your mother. We need to know what she knows.” “Okay.” Greg agreed. “She may not know much. She has never been involved with them before.” Frankie remarked. “If they came to Greg for help, they probably asked her first.” Andy surmised. “Call her and see when she can come by. We’ll ambush her.” Eric said. His anger was contained but he wanted his family safe. That was the new prime objective.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM
 Looking for Answers

229

Margo didn’t make them wait. She was at Greg’s house by nine that night. “What happened to your eye?” It was the first thing out of her mouth. “Nothing.” Greg dismissed. “I’m glad you called me. Was there something that happened to change your mind?” She asked carefully. “Sort of.” He said coolly as he walked her into the living room where everyone waited with the exception of Angela and Ian, who went to her sisters for the night. Margo stopped. “What’s going on?” “Hello Margo.” Andy said. “We have a few questions and hoped you could help us.” The eighteen people were an intimidating crowd. Her eyes darted around the room stopping briefly at Father Francis, Eric and Matt, Jim, Kate and finally Sandy. “Sandy? Aren’t you dead? I was at your funeral.” She stammered from the shock. “Margo.” Sandy was mildly abrasive. “It was my sister.” “I didn’t know you had a sister.” She looked at Jim. “Still as close to Andy as ever.” “Closer.” Jim was much harsher. It was a role reversal. “That happens when you have to help each other through tough times, like after their wife leaves them without a word.” “I left a note.” She whispered. “Oh, yeah. Sorry for coming down so hard on you.” Jim lost his composure for the first time Greg could remember. It had been a rough day for him. “Do you have any idea what you did to them!?” “Jim, it’s old news.” Andy stood up to block his view of Margo. “We need to talk to her.” Margo had backed up after Jim’s outburst. “This isn’t a good time. I’ll come back.” She turned but an invisible wall made leaving impossible. “We have some questions.” Eric grimaced as he nodded his head. “You’ll stay to answer them.” She hung her head and turned back to the crowd. “Tyler and Deborah have been bothering you.” “Why don’t you have a seat and tell us everything you know.” Father Francis requested. “Father Francis, it’s been a long time.”

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

“Since Greg’s Baptism.” He gave a small smile to ease the tension.

230

She sat down at the dinner table. “They were asking what happened to you guys recently and if I kept in touch. They are a wicked pair and it wasn’t to talk about the good ole days. I hadn’t seen them in years myself. After Deborah was eighteen they went their separate ways. I came to warn you.” She peaked at Greg with sad eyes. “I didn’t know what they wanted or if they would really try. They got themselves involved with some criminals a while ago. I didn’t know what to warn you about just that they may come and to avoid them.” “They came and he tried to avoid them. They wanted Greg to help them with getting a man out of prison.” Henry informed her. “They were willing to kidnap his friends to force him to help.” She scanned the room again. “You have a lot of friends.” She stared at Kate, Jim and Sandy. “Are you Jim’s daughter?” “She is and she’s the one they kidnapped.” Eric growled out through gnashed teeth. Margo jumped out of her seat. “That’s all I know.” She was frightened by Eric’s anger. “Eric.” Frankie warned wishing he had gone home for the interrogation like she asked. “I see you are being forthcoming with us and we appreciate it but we would like to ask you some other questions just to make sure we are covering all the bases.” She held out her hand to the chair. “Please sit down.” Margo couldn’t leave until they allowed her so she sank back into the chair. “Okay. I’ll do my best to help.” “Do you know where we can find them?” “Last I heard they were living in Venice Beach but they moved. I don’t know where.” “Do you know of any places they would use in Ojai, CA?” “They had a friend that way. I think his name was Gino.” “Could it have been Guido?” Frankie asked in a calming voice. “Maybe. I don’t really remember. We barely talk anymore.” “These criminal friends of theirs, do you know if they could do anything out of the ordinary?” She went pale. “I don’t understand the question.” “You do.” Frankie gently encouraged.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

Margo stared blankly at Frankie as she weighed the words. She dropped her eyes. “I don’t know. They can black out senses. You probably know that. Guido or Gino could project images of himself. I don’t know much about specifics beyond that other than some could move things without touching anything.” “Did you ever meet Guido?”

231

“A couple of times.” She sighed. “I worked as a bank teller and he had chatted with me when he made a withdrawal. He went by the name Tony and was casing the layout. I didn’t realize it at the time. We were held up a week later and I tried to black out one of the assailants eyes when it didn’t work. I tried another and it didn’t work. They wore ski masks and I couldn’t see that they were duplicates of the same person.” “It didn’t work because it wasn’t the real Guido.” “I figured that out later but I eventually blacked out someone’s senses. There were only two real robbers but it looked like there were eight. The police were coming and the one led the other out carrying out what cash they had. A cop said they didn’t get as much as usual and that something must have scared them off. They had been hitting several banks in the area. We lived in Fresno at the time.” “Tony came back to the bank as the customer. I hadn’t made the connection yet. Somehow he learned I had caused the sensory deprivation. He asked me out and learned that I had two younger siblings that were just hitting adulthood. After he learned that Tyler and Deborah were troublemakers, he considered them better candidates to join his gang. I lost contact but he reached out to them.” Margo paused recalling the details in order. “Deborah told me later that he approached her and Tyler about joining his gang. That was when I put it together that he was the same man that held up my bank. She was only sixteen then and he scared her. That passed as he laid on the charm and two years later they left home. We talked occasionally but as they got more involved with him our conversations shortened and happened less frequently until almost never, maybe a quick call on the occasional holiday.” “Until?” Frankie wanted to know when they first learned about Greg. “A year ago. After they left home, I was alone. It suited me well and I started doing things for myself, reading clubs, cooking classes, that sort of stuff. And I found a woman that seemed so smart for her age. She looked like she was about twenty. Turns out she is very old and doesn’t age. She invited me

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

to a group of women like us, who had these special skills. Deborah showed up to a gathering and we

232

talked. She said they had left their old crew and were on the straight and narrow. I didn’t believe her but played along. It would have been more believable if I hadn’t read the news that their gang had been rounded up.” “Not long after they stopped by my place for a social visit. Tyler was so different. He was always a difficult boy but he had grown into a hardened man. They asked if I had been in touch with Andy and Greg and I said no. I got updates from old friends but I didn’t mention it to them. They asked just a few too many questions about Greg that I got worried and the rest you know.” “See, you had a lot more information.” Frankie said kindly. “Nothing that really helps us. Unless you know where this place is in Ojai.” Matt commented. “I don’t.” The twins frightened her. “What about that group of women you mentioned? Do you still see them?” Henry asked. “Occasionally. We meet twice a year in various places in California.” “What was the name of the woman that took you to your first meeting?” “Marie. She is very sweet.” Matt and Eric exchanged looks with Ron. “Do you know of an older lady in the group named Grania?” Ron questioned. “Yes. She’s one of the club elders.” “Telekinetic?” “Yes, I think she is.” “And a Holly?” Jim figured it was worth a try. “Yes.” She was curious. “She can vanish. And they were all friends.” Kate sat back with attitude. “I knew she was mixed up with Gran.” “Yes. You’re very clever.” Eric rolled his eyes. “You know them?” Margo asked. “We know of them.” Frankie said sending out a message that the others weren’t to give too much information away.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


233

“Gran was never very social at those things but she went out of her way to talk to me that meeting. She heard I could black out people’s eyesight. She was persistent and I kept it short. That’s why I skipped that last meeting all together.” Margo was making the right conclusions. “She knows about you.” She frowned at Greg. “She knows of me.” He repeated Frankie’s line. Margo shuddered. She didn’t like to hear that. “When is your next meeting? Maybe you could take me with you.” Sandy offered. “Gran will recognize you.” Ron shook his head. “She wouldn’t know me.” Frankie offered. “Are they connected to Tyler and Deborah?” Margo wondered. “No.” Frankie didn’t want Margo know there was some communication between the two groups. “That’s a different problem, unrelated to Greg.” She deduced it wasn’t completely unrelated if Gran had checked her out because she had a similar skill. “We’re meeting again in April in Pasadena. I’ll take you if it is something that will help Greg.” Greg was uncomfortable to hear that would make a difference to her. “And I’ll help you with Tyler and Deborah if you need it.” She added. “They’re trying to get that guy out of prison aren’t they?” “We aren’t sure what their new plan is but initially, yes.” Henry answered. Margo could see they were guarded with the information they shared. She accepted it. “Andy, I’m sorry I left. I wasn’t cut out to be a wife and mother.” “It was a long time ago.” He said. Jim turned away from the group holding back his indignation. Margo looked at Sandy. “I still feel like I am seeing a ghost. You were my only close friend in town.” It made sense they would know each other well being the wives of two best friends but it was surreal for Greg to see his estranged mother talking to Kate’s as if they were old pals. “Let’s get together for lunch sometime.” Sandy offered awkwardly. “I’d like that.” Kate reached for Greg’s hand under the table.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


234

“You have been helpful. Thank you.” Frankie was courteous. “Can I reach out to you if we think of anything else?” Margo nodded and they exchanged contact information. She was permitted to leave. “Do you have a plan?” Father Francis asked Frankie and Henry. “I suspect the prison break will be postponed.” Henry answered. “We need to be extra careful to ensure they don’t try to illicit help from anyone here.” “No.” Eric interrupted. “We don’t wait. With all due respect we have sat back and waited for others to make the next move before. It wasn’t good. We go to them.” “Absolutely.” Matt’s head bobbed in agreement. He was as tired of being victimized as Eric was. “We could call in some favors and get a group together. It would take some time.” Frankie told Henry. “We are a group.” Ron countered. “Of course some of you will be able to help.” “But not the kids.” Sandy commanded. “We’re in.” Matt and Eric said together. “We all are.” Brian added as if it was obvious. “No.” Eric glared at Brian and Kate. “Let’s get a plan first and then we’ll figure out who should go.” Frankie glanced at Eric. She was telling him the younger kids would not be part of any danger. “And what about this meeting? Are you going to go and find out what Gran is up to? You’ll be able to read her mind.” Sandy liked the idea of getting an update. “I think that is a good idea.” Frankie confirmed. “But we can discuss it later.” She meant when the kids weren’t around.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

The Mysterious Miss Becket Greg was exhausted when he woke up for school the next day. His eye had healed well considering how bad the cut was but he still had stitches. They would stay in place until the following

235

Friday. In his first class Miss Carter stopped when she saw him. “What happened?” It was probably the tenth time he had been asked that morning and school hadn’t officially started. “I ran into the car door.” He lied. “Looks painful.” “I have drugs.” He winked with his good eye. “I can’t believe people are buying that line.” Brad groaned when he sat down. “It’s more believable than the truth.” All their cover stories were. “True.” Father Francis didn’t ask about the eye knowing the truth. During the short break between their second and third class Greg repeated his lame excuse another dozen times. They walked into AP Calculus and Miss Becket stood at the front of the room. “Greg, what happened to your eye?” She asked on script seeing the bad lesion. “Walked into a car door.” He said automatically. “Aren’t you replacing Mr. Stewart?” “I am. He was originally the math teacher.” She reminded him. “You met her already?” Kate whispered next to him. “She was at the party on Saturday.” “I saw her there.” Kate disapproved on some level. Greg looked at Miss Becket and wondered if it was simple female jealousy. She was striking. “She’s the new tennis coach.” “That’s good. Maybe I can get out of the tournament.” “Coach Evans told her about you.” Kate rolled her eyes. “Hello.” Miss Becket addressed the class. “I’m Miss Becket and I’ll be taking over for Mr. Stewart for the rest of the year.” Her hand shook as she wrote her name on the dry erase board in squiggly

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


236

lettering. She glanced down at a blackberry on her desk and pushed a button before continuing with the lesson. They went over their homework from the weekend. Greg hadn’t done his homework after all the craziness. None of them had time to worry about homework in the excitement of the play and Kate’s abduction. When it came to the advanced problems, Miss Becket called on Kate probably being informed that she was a sure shot at completing it without help. Kate took her book up to the board to do the problem from scratch. She was fast enough at math to work it through without having her homework. “Did you do your assignment?” Miss Becket asked. “It was kind of a manic weekend.” Kate answered overly polite, as she often was when she first met any authority figure. “Starring in a play doesn’t excuse you from your scholastic responsibilities.” She picked up her blackberry and entered in some keys as she spoke. “Yes, ma’am.” Kate finished her problem and sat down. Miss Becket ended class early. She emphasized that homework was not optional and asked Kate to stay behind for a brief chat. Greg, Brad and Meg stayed behind as well. “I only need to talk with Kate.” Miss Becket told the students and lingered on Greg’s hurt eye for a moment. “None of us did our homework.” Brad confessed. “We were all involved in something urgent. Father Frank can confirm we aren’t the types to skip our assignments and that this weekend was an exception.” Miss Becket stared at the quartet with a confused look. Her eyes darted to her blackberry again. “I’ll let it slide this time.” She casually picked up her toy. “And Father Francis knows about your lapse in duty?” “That’s correct.” Meg stuttered. After Mr. Stewart, math teachers were nerve-racking for her. Miss Becket walked over to the desks where they sat holding her blackberry. “Very well. I’m sorry for keeping you.” She looked expectantly up at Kate with a curious expression. “Thank you.” Kate said tensely.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

“Greg can you stay a little longer.” Miss Becket asked and the others left. Be careful. She could be a problem. Kate warned him before leaving.

237

“Yes, Miss Becket.” Greg empathized for any paranormal gifts in his new teacher but he didn’t detect even a remote sign. Kate must have picked up something. “That wasn’t from a door.” She didn’t buy his forged alibi for his wound. “It looks worse than it is.” “Well, if you need someone to talk to, you can talk to me. Or better yet, Father Francis. You sound like you know him well.” It was a nice gesture although misguided. “I already have. He’s a good friend of the family.” The lady nodded her head with a smile as if that made sense on some level. “Good. Now get going.” She shooed him out of the classroom. “I don’t think she going to last long.” Greg said when they were in the hall. “You can’t play with your blackberry while you teach.” “She’s hiding something and she knows there’s something different about us.” Kate’s alarms had gone off. “Does she have a gift?” Brad asked. He felt like everyone had hidden talents and he had just recently been let in on the know. “Maybe.” “What do you mean maybe? You can read these things.” “I can but not if she can block it. I tried to read her mind and she put up a false front. Like Frankie does but it was different. All I heard was poetry.” “She was reciting poetry in her head?” Meg had a baffled look. “Yes. It’s a good way to conceal your real thoughts. She could tell I was trying to read her mind.” Kate’s frowned. “Or that someone was, but I think she guesses it was me. Did you see the look she shot me before excusing us?” “Do you think she’s a spy?” Greg didn’t like the timing and Gran had used two spies already. “She isn’t here for teaching.” Kate’s skepticism was on high alert. After Existentialism they found Father Francis to ask him about his new hire.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

“She’s brilliant at math and technology. She doesn’t have teaching credentials but if she can’t

238

teach we’ll replace her. I hired her for her raw potential.” Father Francis read people’s strengths regardless of metaphysical roots. He used it when selecting students for admission and apparently on staff for hiring. “Does she have any gifts?” Kate asked. “She knew I was trying to read her mind.” “Nothing metaphysical that I detected but it isn’t impossible to fool me.” He fretted. “Do you think she has something to do with those people that took you?” “I don’t know. She wasn’t at the house in Ojai. It would be unlikely someone came in without me hearing even without saying a word.” Kate had the ability to enhance her hearing and the one-way shield couldn’t stop physical sound waves. “Maybe she knows your grandmother.” “That’s more likely. She had put a plant at dad’s office and a plant at school would be even more useful. If Gran sought helpers in one of those meetings, she may have found one that could hide skills from detection.” Kate cocked her head. “She’s coming now.” Miss Becket walked into the hall from the direction of the teacher’s room beyond the kitchen. “Just the man I was coming to see and the four reasons why.” “Hello Miss Becket. I see you have met some of our finest pupils.” Father Francis beamed. He had a perfect front on as he reconsidered the new teacher. “Yes I have. They surprised me because they didn’t do any of their homework.” “Ah.” He said knowingly. “We had a special project yesterday and they didn’t get enough time to do their work. I gave them a pass for this weekend. It was shameful of me to not inform you sooner.” He did well. He would have to go to confession and pray some Hail Mary’s or Our Father’s but he lied as if he were Eric. She glanced at Greg’s scar. “Does look like the weekend got the better of you.” Greg flushed. He wished he hadn’t gotten stitches. It would have been less detectable without black thread peaking out. “And speaking of weekends,” Father Francis segued, “did you enjoy yours?” “Yes. I was here preparing for my classes. I would have said hello when I saw you but you guys were gone before I got a chance.”

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

Father Francis gave a slight frown. “I’m sorry.”

239

“Not at all. You were busy. And if skipping homework isn’t a regular habit that isn’t a problem either.” She smiled at the kids and walked on. “Interesting.” He said after she left. “If she’s a spy, she didn’t need to mention that.” “She wanted to see how we would react.” Kate said wisely. “And we didn’t disappoint. We all stiffened and even you dropped your smile.” No one responded. “And she was at the party. She could have helped Tyler.” Even if she hadn’t been to the house while Kate was held captive she could be a potential gang member. “I don’t think so but I’ll keep an eye on her. My gut says she isn’t dangerous but she’s up to something. Maybe Gerard will pick up something.” Father Francis knew his good friend could read people as well as him in different ways. “Now get some lunch and let me worry about Miss Becket.” He would learn what he could. They obeyed. During their free period Greg and Brad read their assignment from Sister Rene. Gerard had taken over AP Chemistry and they updated him on their suspicions about Miss Becket before their last class started. “We’ll know soon enough if she’s helping Gran. Frankie’s going to the next meeting.” Gerard reminded them. “I’ll be honest. I like her. We spent a lot of time together last week when I updated her on the class work. She’s got a good heart. I don’t think we have anything to worry about.” Greg couldn’t handle another worry. He was already beside himself that Tyler’s gang knew where Brad lived and perhaps more. They wouldn’t see the group until the weekend. If any new information came up, they would get an update before then. No news was good news. “How was tennis?” Greg asked as he drove Kate, Meg and Ian home. “It was interesting.” Kate said. She had more details to discuss. They didn’t get a chance to talk until that night. Kate pulled him into her dream with the other kids. “What about Frankie and Henry?” Eric asked. He probably just wanted to see Frankie. She had given him the cold shoulder since the beach and he wanted to mend fences.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

“Later. I don’t want to raise false alarms.” Kate said. It wasn’t true. It was that they weren’t completely inside the circle. She quickly updated them on Miss Becket and her odd behavior when she

240

tried to read her mind in math. “And at tennis she kept very close to us.” She indicated herself and Meg. “When I tried to eavesdrop,” Meg added, “she started playing with her blackberry.” “Did she say anything revealing?” “No. Just a couple of wow’s under her breath.” “She’s taking notes.” Kate hypothesized. “It’s like Frankie and her notepad.” “At least we have a heads up.” Chris encouraged. “It may be nothing. We may be seeing shadows where there aren’t any.” “True.” Brian said. “If Grandpa likes her I doubt she’s out to get us.” “We need to know what she does.” Eric was on his feet. He was still edgy after the weekend. “How does she know you can read her mind?” “If you know what to look for you can feel it when someone is probing.” Chris said. “I can feel it when Frankie’s doing it to me.” Greg was impressed. He could never tell without using empathy. “What does she look like? You said she was at the play?” Brian asked. “Would we have noticed her?” “Yeah, she is a eye-catching six foot tall blond.” Brad sighed in admiration. Kate rolled her eyes. “We noticed her.” Matt recalled. “She was watching you and Frankie for a while until she caught me watching her. Or maybe I am reading into things too closely. Dammit, we’re all getting paranoid.” “For good reason. I don’t think Frankie knows her.” Eric said. “Unless she didn’t see her. Was she staying hidden when I was talking with Frankie?” “Not really. She was in plan view. And you couldn’t miss her. She stands out.” Eric nodded. He remembered the tall honey blond from the play and she wasn’t the kind of woman that got over looked easily by anyone.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


241

“If she can read gifts, she would pick up on Frankie and any of us.” Brian reminded them. “This town if full of people with all kinds of skills. She may just be a local with a talent for finding others like us.” “Can you sense her?” Matt asked. “When she’s near? Yes.” Kate answered. “Then she can’t just block anything or else you wouldn’t read her at all.” Matt let his mind think it through. “Just to be safe, don’t do anything around her. Not even telepathy.” Eric ordered giving an especially long warning look to Kate. Too many people knew about how talented she was and she didn’t need more obsessed fans stalking her. “Shouldn’t we test her? Shouldn’t I try empathizing with her and see if she reacts?” “No.” Eric hissed. “That isn’t a bad idea.” Matt countered Eric. “If she is with Tyler or Gran she already knows about Kate and she would know at least that much.” Eric shook his head. “She could be an unrelated problem.” “I don’t think she’s there spying on us. And she admitted to seeing Father Francis on Sunday. That isn’t covert behavior.” Greg wanted to give a fair argument for the case that she was benign. Actually, he wanted her to be harmless if only to keep from adding to his worries. “She was there when we got the van?” Matt hadn’t heard that before. “She saw us?” “I guess so. She said she saw you guys.” “Do me a favor and stay away.” Eric begged Kate. His plea was denied. The next day Kate followed her at lunch. She vanished and hid her presence. She didn’t see anything out of the ordinary but she kept her distance the first day. By Friday, Kate had grown bolder and to her dismay Miss Becket reacted. She stood up from her unfinished lunch in the faculty lounge and started walking towards Kate and then, as if she knew where Kate hid, she moved in a different direction. As usual, she had her nose close to her blackberry as she typed.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

Eric was livid on Saturday when Kate gave the update at boot camp. Frankie wasn’t much happier. “She knew where you were and you were invisible and hiding your presence?” Kate nodded. That didn’t add up. Even Gerard couldn’t detect them if they blocked their presence from being sensed.

242

“What if she has enhanced smelling?” Chris said. “I mean if Meg can hear better than most, that has to be a possibility. The dogs know where we are when we’re invisible.” “Ew!” Eric remarked. “That would be the lamest talent I’ve heard to date.” “I’ll stop by school this week and get Father Francis to introduce us. Maybe we have met her. I don’t remember seeing her at the performance.” Frankie got nervous. “It’s spring break.” Kate told her. “All the better. She may still be there and there won’t be any students around. If not, I’ll keep an eye out at the meeting. It’s this Thursday.” “I want to go with you.” Kate insisted. “That isn’t an option. You’ll be recognized.” “Not if I go in disguise.” Kate turned herself into the spitting image of her mother. “Still recognizable. Ellen won’t work either. And you can’t go as Angela. It will put her in more danger.” Frankie preempted. Kate returned to her usual appearance. She wasn’t going to miss out. She smiled and turned into Frankie. “I’ll go as your twin. I can do the same things you can.” “Brilliant.” Henry said stopping his sister from rejecting Kate’s offer again. “That means two of us will be there to observe.” Truth was he didn’t want Frankie to be alone. “Unless Deborah is there. She knows who my twin is.” Frankie warned. “So. She isn’t going to expose you and if there are two, she won’t know which is the real Frankie.” “And what if something goes wrong?” Frankie was not on board. “One of us can go in her place.” Matt turned into a third Frankie, which was disturbing to see since he sat like a typical guy with his legs spread out too far for a lady. Eric hit his knee. “Dude, you can’t sit like that.”

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

“Oops.” He crossed his legs and tried to imitate Frankie’s posture. “Better?” “Sort of.”

243

“It’s probably better if Kate goes. She isn’t going to slip up and forget her feminine side.” Henry added. “We won’t be far away.” Eric affirmed. “I don’t like it any better but the plan has some merits.” He was hiding his fears. Kate was an asset and she was brave. He kept his protective nature at bay. It must have taken every ounce of strength he could muster. He was still a tempest waiting to unleash. It would be a long time before he was his old self again if the change wasn’t permanent.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

Wonder Women Kate didn’t mention to her parents that she attended the meeting with Frankie. The Thomas

244

brothers, Greg and Henry had gone for back up. They ate at a diner across the road and it was an eventless lunch. Eric was as rigid as a ramrod throughout. It was a reminder of the close proximity Kate was to her grandmother that had tried to kill on numerous occasions. Greg couldn’t help but tense up in response. When the meeting ended and Kate was out of the same building as Gran, they headed home. After they left Pasadena the boot camp crew met at Frankie and Henry’s. Matt drove like a speed demon compared to Frankie and they had to wait for the girls. Eric paced to bide the time. Greg could feel them approaching. Kate was in city limits and safe. Eric’s stress was wasted energy. Would he ever return to his usual state of ease? As soon as they were in the house Frankie started updating the group. “Deborah was a no show. We expected as much.” She tossed her keys and purse on the table in the entranceway. “Gran, Marie and Holly were there. And Miss Becket but she used a fake name and it was her first meeting. She had to introduce herself like we did.” “Did she know Gran and the others?” Eric was bouncing off the walls. He hated that Kate was in the same room as Gran and learning that her suspect teacher was there didn’t settle well either. “She chatted with them but no more than she did with others.” Frankie said. “Even less.” Kate corrected. “Miss Becket didn’t seem to like Gran much.” “Smart woman.” Matt complimented. “Maybe they didn’t want to be exposed.” Brian stated. Frankie shook her head. “I don’t think so. She talked to everyone else even Marie and Holly.” “It was like a fact finding mission.” Kate said. “She was very inquisitive.” “Yes.” Frankie agreed. “It was an investigation and she claimed her only skill was knowing when people are lying.” “What do you mean claimed?” Henry asked. “I don’t think she knew Kate wasn’t really my twin when she introduced herself. At least not right away. Which means she didn’t know when she lied.”

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


245

“It was a lie.” Kate affirmed having full knowledge when people fibbed. “But afterwards she said I reminded her of someone she just met but didn’t tell me who.” “She knew it was you.” Eric muttered. He lost his brave front and his fear showed. “But that was after we met. During the meeting she didn’t take much notice of us. Your grandmother did. She isn’t the most social person there but she came over to us to tell us that she only met of one set of twins so alike.” Frankie mentioned. Matt grinned with pride. He looked to his twin and was surprised that he wasn’t looking back with the same expression. Eric was still stewing. “She put out some feelers for our help. I gave her my number.” Frankie added. “She hasn’t given up. She’s going to try again.” Eric hung his head. It was something that no one wanted confirmed. In comparison, it felt like small potatoes. “She probably will but she didn’t have any active plans.” Frankie said. “I only mentioned that we are telekinetic. Left it open for us to read minds. She’s an angry woman.” “That’s being way too kind.” Kate huffed. “She had some very unfriendly ideas about mom when we asked why she was looking to meet us again.” “You too.” Frankie looked at Kate. “And she considers that you guys and your father have betrayed her love.” Frankie hated saying the words. It disgusted her that Gran had such poisonous opinions about her friends. Eric didn’t say a word but his face went red with anger. His ears were a particularly sharp shade of red. Frankie took note but didn’t try to sooth him. “And what did Miss Becket ask you?” Henry questioned. “She’s really plugged in. She had her blackberry in her lap or hand the whole time. Of course she asked when we started developing our skills and if we inherited them from our mother or father.” Frankie answered. “And she was far more interested in Kate than anyone else at the meeting.” “So she did recognize you?” Henry figured she did. “Did you read her mind?” “She has skills at hiding her true opinions. She constantly runs through recitations – poetry, lyrics, movie dialogue. But the girl who brought her to the meeting read minds as well, so she may have had her guard up for her. She definitely knows how to keep her ideas personal.”

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

“She used a fake name and a fake skill?” Greg mused. “Why?”

246

“She wasn’t the only one.” Kate told him. “There were twenty women and only ten used their real names but only Miss Becket gave a false skill.” “It’s instinctual to hide these things.” Henry reminded the team. They all felt the same around people that didn’t know. “She’s harmless.” Frankie assessed. “She doesn’t seem to belong to either group and she isn’t hiding her curiosity. It’s probably just that and nothing else.” “This is bullshit!” Eric yelled suddenly. “She just happens to show up now. I don’t buy it.” “Relax.” Matt ordered. “I want to know what this Miss Blackberry is up to. If she isn’t with either Tyler or Gran, she has some suspicious behavior to account for.” Eric popped out of his seat. “Why does she owe us that?” Matt stood up to Eric. “Would you fess up to strangers that you can move things with you mind?” Eric sat down. “I’ll find out what she wants.” “You do that.” Matt said seeing that Eric was recoiling from his attack posture. “And I’m tired of waiting for others to make the next move. We need to be proactive.” Eric glanced around the room. “What do you suggest?” Henry asked. “We go after Tyler’s gang. We know what city they’re in and it wouldn’t take us long to pinpoint the location.” “That’s going and looking for a war.” Henry shook his head. “There wasn’t a jail break attempt. If they want Guido they need help to get him out. If they want to try to get help from one of you for that they need help. So why not just get help for Guido? Why should we go scouting for trouble we know we will find?” “I don’t know. Maybe because they kidnapped Kate!” Eric was hollering again. Henry’s eyes darted to Frankie. Not in a secret conversation sort of way. In the way that he wondered how calm he could stay if she had been kidnapped instead of Kate. He was coming around to Eric’s way of thinking.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

“Eric!” Kate reprimanded.

247

He tried to recompose but his ears were still crimson red. Greg could feel the storm beneath the milder facade. “We need a mole.” Brian said. “Who haven’t they seen?” “They haven’t seen me.” Chris volunteered. “We don’t know that. They may have seen you at the party.” Frankie interjected. “So, they’ll know how he found out they were looking. He could pretend to be looking to make some money on the side.” Matt gave Chris’ idea a chance. “Or I can disguise myself.” Greg added. “We aren’t going to move on them.” Frankie shut the idea down. “Especially on a solo mission from one of the teens.” “True. It would have to be one of us.” Matt hit Eric on the shoulder. “Let’s do it.” “In or out of a disguise that is extremely risky.” Frankie didn’t want to move, not with one or two people out there without support. And admit it or not, she cared about them all, Eric especially. “They know that you guys are the strongest and the leaders. If anything went wrong…” “So we’re going to wait?” Eric’s ears were redder than ever. He was on his feet again. Matt rolled his eyes tired of trying to hold Eric back or tired of pretending he didn’t think it was a better plan than sitting around for others to make the next move. “We need to have our own plan. The immediate problem is Tyler and then Gran and then we figure out what this teacher wants.” “We said no!” Frankie snapped. “Is it your call?” Eric hissed. Frankie and Eric were in a pissing contest for control. “Given our experience and your emotional bias we’re better equipped to make the decision. We aren’t going after Tyler.” Frankie was final and absolute. “Is that because you still have feelings for Tyler?” Eric went too far. Frankie’s face lost all color. Henry faced off to Eric. “Sit down and shut up!”

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


248

Greg tensed. Eric’s temper was getting to that point where he couldn’t control it again. He still had the stitches to prove it wasn’t a safe position for Henry. He psyched himself if he needed to restrain Eric from going after Henry. Kate was up before Matt with her hands on Eric’s shoulders. “Stand down.” She commanded. “This isn’t helping.” Eric glared at Henry. “Eric!” She spoke louder. His eyes darted to her face and instantly softened. “No.” She almost whispered and shook her head gently. He nodded and retreated to his seat. Greg had lived to see the day that Kate bossed Eric. It was as satisfying as he anticipated. She turned to Frankie. “Maybe we should know more about this.” Frankie was still ashen. “We dated casually. It’s true. How did you know?” Kate shrugged her shoulders. Eric didn’t answer. “Tyler. Eric read Tyler’s mind.” Greg informed them. Frankie accepted it. She could only control her own thoughts. It also didn’t take a leap of logic to realize that it was something Eric knew about for a while. “He wanted to recruit me and I wanted to learn more about the gang. We were never an item in the real sense.” “Is that why Tyler wasn’t arrested?” Brian lightly asked. Like Kate, he needed some reassurance about her past and unlike Eric, he was going about it in a gentle way. “No.” Henry answered for his sister. She was too uncomfortable. “They weren’t in the bank when the arrest was made. They were across the street blacking out security’s vision. There was no physical evidence to show they were involved.” Frankie got up and left the room. “She hates how exposed we get.” Henry explained. “It’s hard to keep a secret around people like us.” Matt kicked Eric’s feet.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

“I’m sorry.” Eric squeaked out. “I’m sorry!” He said louder for Frankie’s benefit.

249

“Knowing wasn’t the problem. How you revealed it wasn’t cool.” Henry told him. “You have to get your temper in check. This isn’t good for you or the team.” “He was fine until last weekend.” Kate defended. “Give him some time to readjust.” “We don’t know how much time we have.” Henry needed Eric to be a team player and not a loose canon. “Can we agree on what we need to do?” Matt said. “Eric is right. We need to do something to be safe again and the first thing is to get Tyler and Deborah behind bars. Then we worry about Gran and then this new lady at school.” “Okay, we’ll look for the hide out but not move on it. After we know where they are we’ll call in reinforcements. You guys are too young to put yourself in that much danger.” Henry tried to meet them half way. “Frankie and I will do the surveillance work.”

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM
 Guilty Until Proven Innocent

250

When they walked into AP Calculus after spring break, Miss Becket gave Kate a knowing look. “Did everyone have a good vacation?” She knows it was me at the meeting. Kate sent a mental message to Greg. Greg wanted to give Miss Becket a chance but that news didn’t help the cause. Doesn’t make her our enemy. She has to prove that she isn’t at this point. Kate raised a brow. Things were too perilous to give latitude. The tennis tournament was that weekend at St. Iggy’s. The Thomas brothers and Chris joined Greg and Brad as spectators. Frankie and Henry had opted out. She had not forgiven Eric for outing her. Eric fixed his gaze on Miss Becket as soon as he arrived. He was determined to crack her secret and declare her friend or foe that afternoon. It was a high ambition given that she would be coaching the girls all day and knew how to block her mind from being read. “After the match, I’ll try to chat her up.” He said after getting poetry when he probed her mind. Miss Becket noticed Kate’s brothers immediately. She had seen them at the play and the day they came for the van. Eric wasn’t with them that day but Matt and Brian were. She walked over to meet them. “Hello. You must be Kate’s brothers.” She smiled easily behind her dark shades. “I’m Matt. This is Eric and Brian.” Matt usually acted as the spokesman for the family. Eric’s face went slightly red. She wasn’t close enough to Kate to bother with meeting her family. His didn’t trust her. Aside from the slight coloring he was as nonchalant as ever. Miss Becket missed the redness. She did pay him more attention than the others, even more than Matt. “Kind of young to be a teacher.” Matt commented. “I’m fresh out of college.” She admitted. “I’m not sure if it is the right career for me but it is a great experience and very rewarding.” Eric tilted his head. “Berkeley?” He said. His face lightened to a soft pink. “That’s right.” She flushed. “How could you tell?”

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

He smiled. Greg took it as a sign that he had passed through her mental wall. “You’re a math teacher Miss Becket.” He lied. She reached for her blackberry and put it away quickly. “Please, call me Lori.” “Short for Lorraine?” “Yes.” She tried to change the topic. “Kate is my best player.”

251

“She’s very talented.” Eric eyes darted to the court. Stacey had walked on. He turned to Greg. “Why is she here?” He lost his pleasant disposition. “The tournament is for several groups and not all are from schools. She must be here with the country club’s team.” Miss Becket answered. One of us watches her game at all times. He sent to the others. Miss Becket picked up her blackberry again and looked out at the players. She put it in her holster and turned back to Kate’s brothers. Eric’s eyes were on her blackberry. “Gadgets are a blessing and a curse.” She turned bright pink but it wasn’t a bashful color – more irked. “My friends tell me I need to unplug more often. It was nice to meet you.” She went to join the kids before the match. Eric lifted her blackberry and examined it briefly. Only a few steps away her hand flew to her holster and Eric floated it on the bench in front of him. The stands were sparse and no one who shouldn’t see saw. “Hey you dropped this.” He bent to pick it up. She wasn’t fooled. “Thank you.” She held out her hand. “I’ve never seen this model before.” “It’s a prototype.” She waved her fingers for him to return it. “How does it work?” He kept it. “I really don’t have time right now to show you.” She was perturbed. “Perhaps after the games over a cup of coffee.” He asked smoothly as he pushed her buttons. Greg couldn’t believe he was asking her out. She wasn’t going to go for it. He just took her blackberry. “If we win.” She bartered. Greg’s mouth fell open. How did he do that?

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

“You will.” Eric gave her back her phone.

252

When she was out of earshot he turned to the others. “It isn’t a blackberry. It’s a meter. She’s using it to read who is gifted. I don’t think she has any skills.” “How did you know she went to Berkeley? Did you read her mind?” Greg was sure he had gotten past her recitations. “She was distracted.” Eric blushed. Greg rolled his eyes. Kate always said women liked her brothers. “So you’re going to seduce her for more information over coffee.” “Unless I can convince her into a real drink. That would make it easier.” Eric elated in his upper hand. It was a glimpse of the old Eric again. “And what about Frankie?” Matt reminded him. He didn’t mind the idea that Eric was giving up on her. “This is a mission. Not that I have a chance with Frankie now.” It was true. She had grown distant from Eric after his explosion when Kate was kidnapped and his outburst about Tyler only made matters worse. “She isn’t your type.” Matt teased. “True but she doesn’t know that and I’m her type.” He gave a wicked smile. There were worse ways to go about exploratory findings. The tournament was long. Greg lost interest after Kate won her first match and by her third, which was against Stacey, they were all but ignoring the game. Kate was victorious. She was adorable in her tennis skirt and ponytail. “Why is Eric talking to Miss Becket?” She asked Greg when she was done playing probably jealous that he wasn’t giving her his undivided attention. “He’s on a mission.” He gave her the information on Eric’s blackberry theory. She mugged a crooked face. “He’s insane.” “I never expected you would see it.” Greg kissed her. “Let’s go celebrate.”

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

Juan’s Place

253

Eric stopped by to congratulate Kate on her win and take the car keys from Matt for his date with Miss Becket, which had been successfully upgraded from coffee to dinner. Kate seethed. Matt gave her a wink. “He’s only doing this for you.” Kate shot an icy glare at her oldest brother. Putting an arm around his sister Matt offered to take the gang out to dinner. “It’s on me. Let’s go to Juan’s Place. Best Mexican food North of the border.” If he was trying to warm Kate up it worked. She was a puppet and he was a master. Over the months, the twins had slowly oozed into Greg’s personal world, first Brad’s house and then St. Iggy’s. Seeing Matt jump into the back seat of his beat up Bronco made Greg think that all lines of territory were dissolved. They pulled up to a full parking lot and a line of people spilling out the front entrance. “It’s so busy. Let’s go to Parks’ Barbeque.” Kate suggested. Parks’ was the best Korean place in town and on the far side of the same strip mall. “We’ll go here. I can go for some good salsa. Muy caliente.” Matt’s Spanish wasn’t too bad for a white boy. “I thought it was your treat for my victory.” Kate gave him a begging glance. Greg would have given in to her wishes. Eric wouldn’t have even countered before she pulled out the sad puppy dog eyes. Matt was either immune or motivated. “Fine.” He said and sighed. “I just had Korean food but it’s cool. It’s your day.” Damn. You are good. Greg complimented. It’s all part of being the oldest. “If the line is longer than half an hour…” Kate started. “I’ll tip the guy and get us bumped up.” Greg followed Matt up to the maitre d’ desk. The hostess gave him a buzzer and told him it would be forty-five minutes at least. “What about the bar? It’s full service?”

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


254

“It is but good luck finding room for seven.” She couldn’t have been much older than Greg and her hospitality was stretched thin from the long waiting list of people who regularly checked on the status of their table. There were two tables suitable for four next to each other right up front by the window in the bar area. A couple was honing in on one. Suddenly their pager blinked. The lady held it up to her husband pleased that their wait was so short. “Aren’t we lucky.” Matt said as he pulled the tables together. “Get the others before someone else tries to snag it.” “Did you set their pager off?” He flashed his wicked grin. “You two are a menace.” Greg told him as he called his friends via telepathy. “We are misunderstood and underappreciated.” Matt corrected as he took a seat facing the window. Kate was pleased that they didn’t have to wait. They ordered some drinks and guacamole for the chips. Being that he wasn’t driving, Matt got a Corona. Greg sat by Matt. It was the first time he was ever around Matt without Eric. It was strange. He knew Eric better but Matt was so much like him even beyond looks that he felt like he knew Matt almost as well. Then Greg sensed that Eric was near. He looked out into the lot and saw the twins Accord parked in front of the Korean restaurant. He checked Kate and she hadn’t sensed him, probably because she was tired from the game and chatting with her friends. “I just had Korean food.” Greg sassed under his breath for Matt’s ears only. “It may have been a couple of days ago.” Matt smirked. Of course it wasn’t a fib. Kate would sniff it out in no time. The twins had already adjusted to half-truths to cover their tracks. “Are you checking in on Eric?” “It wasn’t needed. Lori isn’t evil.” He wanted to be near Eric like they did to Kate when she went to the prom and the ballgame the year before. “You thought she could be?”

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


255

Matt shook his head no as he took a swig of beer. “Grandpa likes her but you can’t be too careful and Eric isn’t thinking straight these days.” “And he planned for you to be here for back up?” “He doesn’t even know.” “How is that possible?” They always knew what the other was up to. Matt grinned and leaned in. “Lori isn’t the only one that gets distracted.” Greg was floored. “I thought she wasn’t his type. I thought he was on a mission from God.” “If this was a mission, I would be with him.” Matt assured him. “He’s going solo for a reason.” “So we’re spying?” Matt’s face twisted as if he was insulted. “I don’t need to be here to spy on him. But grandpa can’t get them all right all the time.” “You were worried.” “Not very. On the other hand if Tyler targeted Kate, Eric has to be next on the list.” Greg replayed the events since the end of the tennis match. Matt knew where Eric was headed before he arrived at Parks’. Talk about no privacy. Kate turned to Greg and Matt, “Stacey is here with her family.” They glanced up and sure enough at a large booth just outside the bar was Stacey. Regan was with them as well as Kevin, who looked absolutely bored with their company. “Stop listening to them.” Matt told Kate. Kate was getting red in the ears. She was using her supersonic hearing to eavesdrop. “It isn’t as easy as you think. They’re saying nasty things.” “Because you kicked her butt in tennis. Ignore her.” Matt recommended for a second time. “We should’ve gone to the Korean place.” She glanced out the window and revelation hit. Their car was as recognizable to her as any in her family. “Are we here in case something goes wrong with Eric?” “We got here first.” Matt answered truthfully as he misled her. “Can you tell how it’s going?” Kate knew they were always connected on some level. She was peeved that he was with Miss Becket instead of celebrating with them.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

“Fine. She isn’t a problem.” Kate huffed. “You mean she’s charming him.”

256

Brian was on Matt’s other side and had started listening in. “Kate, he’s only with her to protect you.” He didn’t intend for it to sound absurd but it did. Greg lifted an eyebrow. Matt made a good point. He could have set up a better time with others nearby or at least prepared for proper reinforcements. As predicted, Kate was not taking a new woman in Eric’s life well. She saw a potential there unlike with Frankie and the true territorial sister was showing. She was a mini protective monster. “He better stay focused.” She threatened sounding jealous more than fierce. “Relax. The man could stand a night out. He hasn’t gone on many dates lately.” Matt scolded her. “Date? You think it’s a date?” She hissed. “I’m just saying it wouldn’t be the end of the world if Eric had some reprieve from all the stress he’s under. We are all going through hell and Eric has been piling on the guilt on top of it all.” “Guilt?” Greg asked. “For letting Kate get kidnapped, for hitting you, for blurting out that Frankie dated Tyler. He can’t get his temper under control because he was so f-ing frightened when you were taken.” He pointed at Kate. Greg sighed. “Hey, the eye is in the past. It’s fine with me.” “He knows that but it doesn’t erase how bad he feels. Worsens it actually.” “And now he’s going to have some angry monkey sex with Miss Becket for therapy.” Kate was livid. “Watch it Kate.” Matt warned as he closed in on his sister. “We aren’t as slutty as you imagine. If he has to ask her point blank if she’s involved with Tyler or Gran to be certain she isn’t, he will. And if he has a nice evening out as a side affect, be happy for him.” Kevin walked up to the table and the heated conversation was put on the back burner to simmer. “Hey guys.” He glanced around the table at his old cast members lingering a little on Kate and then finally

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

seeing Greg. “Who the hell got you in the eye?” If he couldn’t hit Greg with his speed he didn’t think anyone could. The scar had healed up nicely but it was visible. “No one. It was an accident.” Greg lied. Kevin nodded but not because he believed him. “I can’t stay long. Stacey is pissed enough I wanted to come and say hello.”

257

“Don’t make up stories.” Stacey said as she approached with Regan at her side. “How are things at ole St. Iggy’s?” every fiber of her being dripped with condescension. “Great.” Brad replied. “Better than ever.” Regan shot Meg and Kate dirty looks. “Let’s go back.” Kevin knew that the girls weren’t welcomed. “Why?” Stacey asked innocently. “Because you get kind of bitchy and I feel a rude remark coming on.” “I’m going to tell your mother.” Stacey stormed off. “She’s the one that told me in the first place.” Kevin hollered after her. “Go on.” He told Regan and she left after Stacey. “Sorry about that. They’ve been very unpleasant all day. Makes me almost regret that you won.” He looked at Kate. “But not completely.” “Thanks.” She said astounded by his kindness. “You were in the play.” Matt commented. “The pirate king.” “That’s right. Hi, I’m Kevin.” He shook Matt’s hand. “Stacey’s brother?” Matt guessed. It wasn’t the family resemblance that triggered the comment, at least not the physical one. He sense that Kevin could speed up. “Cousin. And you’re one of Kate’s twin brothers.” He scanned for a second but didn’t see one. “Just me tonight but yes, I am usually two.” “I’ll leave you to your dinners.” He walked off. “Is he a friend or foe?” Matt couldn’t get a read on the interaction. “I would’ve said foe before tonight but it kind of seems like he wants to be pals.” Brad stared at Kevin’s dinner party. “Don’t knock it.” Brian said.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

Eric’s car was gone from the Korean restaurant when they were finished. Brad and Chris had

258

already left when Greg and Kate decided to cut out early. She was yawning and Brian offered to take Matt back to the old homestead. They were waiting for the receipt to sign. Greg had closed Kate’s door and was rounding the Bronco when Brian came out with Kate’s sweater. “Thanks.” Greg took it from Brian. Suddenly Kate jumped out of the car and ran back into Juan’s Place. “What was that about?” Greg asked wondering if he imagined that she had sped herself up just enough to not be completely obvious to any witnesses. Brian’s eyes went blank. “Shit. Regan and Stacey have Meg cornered in the girl’s restroom.” His vision had flickered to Meg’s. Then he started laughing. “Never mind, Matt’s there. Scared the hell of out them too. And now Kate’s there.” “What’s happening?” Brian shrugged. He couldn’t hear a word. They didn’t have to wait long for the girls and Matt. They giggled and Matt looked embarrassed. Meg ran up to Brian and kissed him. “You’re brother is so funny.” “I saw that he was in the wrong bathroom but for a good reason.” He brushed her hair back from her face. “Regan and Stacey cornered me in the restroom and I’m pretty sure they were ready to get catty. But even before they spoke I felt Matt on the other side of the door trying to decide if he should come in.” Matt was blushing. “I didn’t want to look like a pervert and I had called Kate to come since she’s a girl.” “It didn’t matter. I could have taken them but I didn’t want to resort to anything revealing. Then Stacey made a comment that she owed me for the pier. Matt barged in and said that she’s lucky he wasn’t there because her nose would have needed rhinoplasty more than it already did.” Meg started snickering again. “It’s kind of a big nose.” Matt defended. Greg understood the extra humor that only him and Meg were privy to. “She already had a nose job when she was a sophomore.”

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM
 Deal With the Devil

259

Greg dropped off Matt and drove Kate to his house. The lights were out. Ian was at his dad’s and their parents were out on a date. Greg started walking Kate next door when she pulled on his hand. “Let’s watch a movie.” She said with a look in her eye that he knew too well. She wasn’t interested in a movie. “It’s been a long day…” He began but was abruptly cut off with a lovely kiss. “Okay.” He wasn’t sure what was going to happen. His resolve was down and he knew it could be the night. They walked up the path to his front door hand in hand. “Greg.” Tyler said quietly from behind them. He pulled Kate behind him. Matt? No response. “I’m alone.” He confessed. “No it isn’t.” Kate corrected. “He’s lying?” Greg asked not being as quick with that gift. There had to be someone else. They were being blocked out from contacting anyone. “No one from the gang.” Tyler clarified. “It’s only me and I’m unarmed.” He held up his hands in surrender. Suddenly Matt was behind him. His arms were under Tyler’s and wrapped behind his neck in master lock. “Hello.” He winked at Greg and Kate. “Lost contact with you once you pulled away.” Smart guy. Tyler didn’t fight it. “I’m here for help.” “We told you no.” Matt growled. “Not that kind of help.” Matt shook him. “Call in your back up and we’ll listen.” “They aren’t involved with this.” Tyler pleaded. “Neither were we until you took my sister.” Matt could tear his head off and Tyler knew it. Seeing he had no options he called out, “Jenny. It’s okay. They won’t hurt us.” Greg wasn’t sure about that but he had some time before Matt did anything irreversible.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM

A woman stepped out from the side of the house carrying a sleeping baby. Hers worried eyes didn’t stray from Tyler or Matt. “And drop the shield.” Matt ordered. Tyler nodded at Jenny. She obeyed. “Now let him go.” “Kate, is there anyone else around?” “No.” Matt released Tyler but stayed close. “You’re safe.” Tyler promised. “I convinced them you were too much trouble.” Matt and Kate exchanged glances. It was true. “What do you want?” Greg wondered.

260

“They’re going about a different route to release Guido. Deborah has a new plan using a talent from someone she met who doesn’t have an aversion to breaking the law.” He shook his head. “If Guido gets out, I won’t be free.” “You were trying to get him not long ago.” Matt countered. “Only because Deborah wants him dead.” No honor among thieves. “Deborah?” The baby stirred and Jenny rocked him gently. “She’s running things through Tyler.” She told them. “Why?” “Because those idiots don’t believe in women’s lib.” “How do you factor into this?” Greg thought he already knew. “Her sisters are the one way blockers.” Kate said easily recognizing the same skill. Jenny nodded. “I never joined. Unlike them, I found Guido repulsive.” “We want to get married. I need to go straight for that to work. Deborah doesn’t know.” Tyler said. “She’s hell bent on revenge and imprisonment isn’t good enough for Guido in her opinion.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


261

Especially since the gang wants to break him out. She had me vying for leader against Theo. If we were in control, we could set it up for him to be shot in the attempt or shortly after.” “Why?” “She’s tired of Guido cheating on her.” Matt laughed derisively. “She expects a crook to be honest in a relationship.” “It isn’t that simple for us.” He said mysteriously and looked oddly at Greg. “You understand.” “No.” Greg said. “Maybe it hasn’t started. Or maybe you haven’t noticed yet.” “What are you talking about?” “Not all gifts are assets. Do you know how your grandmother died?” Greg shook his head. “Or wonder why Margo left you?” Again Greg gestured that he didn’t. “Some skills are debilitating. I guess it’s the sort of thing that eventually develops to empathy but it stunted in our family. Never fully formed. We can only receive emotions and at times, when we can’t resolve negative feelings, we’re trapped with the added emotional weight.” “How did that make your mother kill herself?” Greg approached his reprehensible uncle seeing him as less of a threat than before. “What happens to you when someone cries in front of you?” Tyler saw he hit something. “You freeze up. Scares the crap out of you.” It was true. “Imagine if it were your child and you couldn’t stop it. It’s impossible. One child wasn’t a problem but when Mom had Deborah and me less than two years apart the pain was too much. She was going nuts, literally nuts. I don’t know if that’s why Margo left you but if it was something else, I’d be surprised.” Greg couldn’t believe his ears. Fifteen years later and he learns his mother left for fear of her life. “So your mother killed herself.”

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM


262

“No. Our father killed her. Accidentally. She was trying to kill Deborah with a pillow. She had colic and wouldn’t stop crying. I got Dad and he pulled her off the baby. It wasn’t a bad spill but she hit the nightstand in just the right spot. She was brain dead and we pulled the plug.” Kate wrapped her arms around Greg from behind. “We’re messed up. You may not even care about her if she’s a crier.” Tyler pointed at Kate. “It pulls on your emotions and you can’t help but want to make it better.” “She’s not a crier and I have fully developed empathy.” Greg admitted before he realized it was new information he shouldn’t mention. “You’re the first generation.” Tyler looked down at his son in Jenny’s arms. “Thank God.” “So why do you stay?” “For Deborah at first. But now I can’t now that Tyler Jr. is here.” He ran his hand over his child’s head and kissed it. “Guido doesn’t allow deserters. If he escapes, I’m there for life or dead.” “What can we do? We aren’t going near Guido.” Matt amended before that request was voiced. “If Deborah succeeds, there isn’t a need. I want Jenny and the baby safe in the meantime. You don’t have to do anything but get this number to Officer Romero. He’s a close friend of Henry’s.” He handed Greg a slip of paper with contact information. “In return I’ll make sure they don’t reconsider their plan to find help from any of you.” “What do you think?” Greg asked Matt. “We’ll do it.” Matt shook Tyler’s hand that they had an agreement. Tyler left to take Jenny and the baby back to a motel near town. “We keep this to ourselves.” Matt decided. “I’ll talk to Henry personally and until we know that Jenny and the baby are save, we don’t say a word. It isn’t a trap. We know that but Eric will explode if he finds out we let Tyler walk away. He’ll keep up his end of the bargain if we have Jenny and the baby.” “Okay.” They agreed. Greg worried Eric may find out anyway from Kate or even him. Something told him that Matt had ways to hide what he wanted from his twin in dire need.

Lisa
Marie
Arnopp
 MOMENTUM
 Problem Solves Itself
The next day they met at Frankie and Henry’s for boot camp. Greg felt guilty keeping vital

263

information to himself but he promised. Matt was right. It would set Eric off. Slyly Matt took Henry aside to have the needed exchange of information. Eric had other things to worry about. Frankie gave him her coldest shoulder yet. He tried his best to persuade her to soften without success. Eric confirmed that Miss Becket, or Lori as he called her, was harmless. Using her first name got under Kate’s skin. Frankie didn’t ask how he arrived at that conclusion. She was more guarded than ever. When Eric said he didn’t read her mind because he promised, Frankie couldn’t keep her curiosity in check. Or was it jealousy? Per Eric, Lori was curious and not a threat. The topic was put to bed for everyone but Kate. She wouldn’t allow herself to believe it. They were half way through their usual meeting when Henry got a call from Joe the cop. Greg thought it was follow up regarding Matt’s special request. He was wrong. “Guido escaped last night.” Henry was pale. “Tyler is dead. His body was found outside Bakersfield on the road. A bullet to the head. ” Everyone froze. “And Deborah?” Greg didn’t care about her as family. It was for protection of the group. She was the last link and per Tyler the reason they were still involved with the gang. “She hasn’t been found but Guido will kill her as well. He wouldn’t take betrayal lightly.” “I wish it ended in a more civil way but at least we’re free of one concern.” Eric gave a great sigh of relief glad the deed was done and that he didn’t do it. They all absorbed the information and slowly the remorse passed to serenity. It was over. Greg felt bad for Jenny and Tyler Jr. Tyler was so close to freedom.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful