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Kiraling – Part 03 (Chapter 06-09)

Written by anonxyzus :: [Wednesday, 12 March 2014 01:53] Last updated by :: [Friday, 26 August 2016 10:27]

Kiraling is set in a variation of Shadar’s Aurora Universe, and borrows characters created by Shadar.

Kiraling is a story of a wounded, and in some ways broken, human being who finds himself involved with three super women, and explores that relationship from his point of view.

Thanks to Shadar for his advice and counsel, and not a little bit of editing.

Chapter 6

We were all pretty disappointed but there wasn’t anything we could do about it. Any evidence was pretty well buried, so we didn’t think we had any choice but to drop it. So I decided to work on my hobby.

The psychologists had been telling me that I should have a hobby. Something to take my mind off Iraq and Afghanistan and all the friends I’d lost and the squad that I lost. So I decided to take up cooking. To do that I had to buy some groceries, and if I was going to do that I needed to get back onto my medication, because it wouldn’t do if I got into a fight or reacted badly when a little kid screamed when he saw my face. Or a big asshole made fun of me. So Thursday night I went back onto my medication schedule and on Friday afternoon I drove into Bellingham to buy the ingredients for a lasagna recipe I wanted to try.

After returning from the store I put everything away and looked outside and saw that it was snowing. I checked the thermometer and the temperature was down to 30. I turned on the TV (I had satellite TV, thanks to the blondes) and the forecast called for low temperatures and snow. The power isn’t too reliable at the cabin, so I checked the generator (powered by propane from that big tank I told you about) and it looked like it was ready to go. I went to bed early, my medications kind of force that, and when I got up Saturday morning the thermometer said the temperature outside was 20 and there was about two feet of snow on the ground.

A couple of hours later the power went out, the generator kicked in, and I had the pellet stove running and heating the cabin. All in all a good day to practice my cooking skills.

I had just finished layering the lasagna when there was a knock at the front door. I wasn’t expecting visitors, and even though I was on my meds I was still paranoid enough to know that I shouldn’t be getting any visitors here, at this time of day, during a snow storm. So I put the Ruger in my waste band and looked through the peephole, and there, standing on my porch, was Xara! I opened the door and just stared at her. She was wearing a pair of cutoffs, cut off really short, and a top that came down to just above her navel. And she was barefoot. Oh, and it was very obvious she wasn’t wearing a bra. She said, “Hi Joe!”, and walked right past me into the living room and said, “What smells so delicious?”

I stepped out onto the porch and saw that there was no car in my driveway. There was no car parked on the street. There were no footprints leading up to my porch. It was like she dropped out of the sky onto my porch. I turned to look at her and noticed that the floor didn’t have any snow or melt water on it, and she looked to be completely dry.

“How did you get here?” I asked her.

“I flew,” she said.

“Flew from where?” I asked.

“From home, in LA,” she said.

LA, as in Los Angeles California?”


And then she smiled at me and I almost forgot who I was. Almost.

“What are you doing here?”

She said, “I just got my drivers license and had a big fight with my mom over buying a new car and I just had to get out of there. So I thought I’d fly up here and see how you are doing.”

So now I had a pretty good idea that Xara is a teenager, probably just turned 16.

“Does your mother know you’re here?” I asked.

“Are you gay?” she answered.

“What? No! Why would you ask me that?”

“Most men, when they see me up close, dressed like this, have a physical reaction to me. You aren’t having that reaction. Why not?”

Like I’m supposed to know. Well, actually, I do know. My meds make me impotent. I don’t like that, but think about it. I’m so damn ugly that there was no way I was going to get a girl on a date, let alone in bed, and even if I could, I’d have to put up with Dixon and Johnson making wisecracks the entire time. I didn’t tell her all of that; I just said, “My medication does that.”

She said, “Oh, really? Completely?”

Am I really having this conversation with a 16 year old? (She sure doesn’t look like a 16 year old.)

“Yes,” I said, “completely.”

“Let’s try something,” she said.

She mussed her hair up and walked up to me and leaned in to my face and said, “Inhale.”

I did, and smelled the loveliest combination of honey and wild flowers, like what I smelled on her mother when I was in the hospital. And then I started to get light headed and feel woozy and I would have fallen down onto the floor if Xara hadn’t caught me.

She said, “Whoa there, let’s get you outside. I gave you enough of my pheromones to make you get down on your knees and beg me to let you kiss my feet. What are you feeling?”

“I can’t think,” was all I managed to get out.

She took me out onto the porch and sat me down on the stoop. Then she went back into the house and opened all the windows. When she came back she *floated* out into the front yard and shook her hair, to muss it up, then shook it again and every strand just fell into place, like she’d just been to the hair dresser. Then she floated back to me, her feet never touching the snow, and helped me up and back into the house and put me on the couch.

It was freezing cold in the cabin. The pellet stove does of good job of providing heat, but not when it has to compete with all the windows open and the wind blowing. I was shivering. She went around and closed all the windows, then stood in front of me and looked at me, and her eyes kind of sparkled, and then I started to feel warm, like I was sitting in front of an infrared heater.

After about a minute of this I was warm and she blinked and said, “Sorry about that. I just had to see how my pheromones would affect you. This is the first time they’ve ever affected someone quite like that. What medications are you on?”

I said, “They’re on top of the fridge.”

She looked that way, said something under her breath, and said, “I’ll have to tell mom about that.”

“Speaking of your mother, does she know you’re here?”

“No, but I can take care of myself. Is that lasagna that I smell? It smells delicious.”

“Would you like to stay for dinner?” I asked.

“Yeah, that would be great!” she said.

“OK, just call your mom and ask her if it is OK.”

“I don’t need to ask my mom. I can take care of myself and it’s none of her business.”

“If you’re going to eat my food you’re going to call you mother and tell her where you are.”

“Don’t you get it Joe? She doesn’t need to know and I can take care of myself without you or her telling me what to do!”

This went on for some time. Fortunately, my medications endow me with the patience of Job and I eventually wore her down and she agreed to call her mother.

The snow can take down the electric lines to the cabin, and does so almost every winter, but the phone never goes out. Why is that?

She picked up the phone and called Kara.

“Hi mom. I’m up at Joe Ricci’s cabin. He’s invited me to dinner. Can I stay? I know mom. I know. I finished that paper before I left. Hey, can I stay the night?”

Wait! What? She turned to me and said, “Mom wants to talk to you.”

I picked up the handset and said “Hello Kara.” Smooth, right?

She said, “The first thing you need to know, Joseph, is that Xara can hear both sides of this conversation. Now, is it alright with you if she spends the night?”

I said, “Sure, I’ve got a room she can sleep in.”

She said, “Okay, but if she is any trouble at all just call me and I’ll be there in 15 minutes.”

The number Xara dialed was in a Southern California area code, so I replied, “Okay, and just exactly how will do you that?” She just laughed and told me that Xara could explain it to me.

I hung up and thought: Finally! Someone is going to explain it all to me!


Chapter 7

I put the lasagna in the oven. The recipe said it would need to cook for 45 minutes and then sit for 10. Xara helped me set the table. I asked her if she liked olives, and she said she did, so I took out a jar of olives and started trying to open the lid while Xara talked about the car she wanted to buy. Listening to her, I was able to deduce that when she said, “I want to buy,” what she really meant was, “mom will buy for me.” Thus the argument she had earlier that day with Kara.

She had decided she should have a red Mustang convertible because, “I’d look so hot wearing sunglasses with the top down driving to the beach.” Ha! She’d look hot wearing a burqa riding a donkey to the bazaar in Fallujah!

While she was talking I was struggling with the lid and she reached her hand out and I gave her the jar and she twisted the lid off with a pop as if it was the easiest thing in the world to do, while she told me how she’d be able to play the music on her phone on the car’s stereo with a Bluetooth connection.

Xara was pretty focused on getting that car, but I soon discovered that her second favorite topic of conversation was boys. She wanted to talk about all the boys who went to her school that she had dated (a few), who wanted to date her (all of them), and who she wouldn’t date (most of them). Geez could that girl talk. At one point I wondered if she ever paused to take a breath. So then I focused a bit on her chest and could see that yes, she was inhaling. Then I took my focus off her chest because she was 16 after all and I’d seen what her mother could do to rebar.

And, of course, the girl all the boys wanted to date, with the perfect hair and the perfect smile and the perfect body with a beautiful face that held those eyes you could get totally lost in, was also a cheer leader.

Finally it was time to eat and I put a slice of lasagna on her plate and said, “Watch out, it’s pretty hot.”

And then she took a bite, didn’t blow on it or anything, and said, “Wow! This is really good.”

Ahh, success! I cooked a meal someone else could enjoy. Then I took a bite of the lasagna I’d dished for myself and damn near burnt my tongue off. So here was something else to add to our list: These blondes aren’t bothered by really hot food.

At this point I made a decision: I wouldn’t take my pills that evening and I’d wait for the morning to start asking her all the questions I had so Dixon and Johnson could sit in. I knew they’d be curious and would have questions of their own they’d like me to ask her.

Xara had a gorgeous, perfect figure that any supermodel would die for, and I assumed that she worked really hard to maintain it through diet and exercise and dieting some more. So she surprised me by asking for a second helping of lasagna. I had a second helping too. And then I was stuffed. And then she had a third helping, and then a fourth, all the while telling me how good it was and would I give her mother the recipe.

I finally asked her, “Where are you putting all that food?”

She put her hands under her breasts, lifted them and said, “It goes here.”

I made a mental note to ask her about that in the morning.

So a pan of lasagna that should have fed me for a week ended up feeding Xara for a night and left enough for the two of us to have for lunch or dinner the next day.

After dinner we went into the living room and I turned on Sports Center and asked her if she liked football. She said she could take it or leave it, that she’d dated some of the football players at school, that the muscle they had made them look good, but they couldn’t do much with it. I asked her what she meant by that and she said, and I kid you not, “When you’re six thousand times stronger than your date it’s hard to be impressed when he tries to show off.”

I could have sat there in the living room watching her cross and uncross her legs all night, but I was getting tired so I took her into the spare room and she helped me make up the bed. When that was done and I was about to leave the room she came up to me and gave me a hug, kissed me on the cheek, and said, “Thank you for dinner and letting me talk your ear off.”

I just stood there, in her warm embrace, for several seconds until I was able to get my brain in gear and said, “You’re welcome.” At least that’s what I meant to say. I’m not sure how it came out. She laughed a little and let go of me and I headed off into my room.

The entire time I spent with her that day she did not once comment on my face and head, and she looked at me directly instead of looking away like so many other people do. I laid in bed that night thinking of that and all the questions I had for her. I don’t think I fell asleep until after midnight.


Chapter 8

I woke up Sunday morning and saw Dixon and Johnson looking at me. I told them we were going to ask Xara to answer our questions and thought we should confer among the three of us and decide which questions were the most important, the ones we wanted answered before she left. Dixon said, “Ask her how long it takes to shave her legs.” It was like he was reading my mind.

We came up with a lot of questions over about fifteen minutes of discussion. Finally we narrowed it down to the following:

Who are these people who can float in the air and break rebar?

Who were the Aryans in the cave holding Xara and the others captive? Are neo-Nazis working with Al Qaeda and the Taliban?

What was that ray gun? Johnson wanted to know where he could get one. I told him we’d have to leave that for later.

How would Kara get from Southern California to here in 15 minutes?

What did she mean when she said the food she eats goes to her breasts?

How long does it take her to shave her legs? Dixon just wouldn’t let go of that, so I finally agreed to it to shut him up.

I’d heard the shower earlier and waited for about 15 minutes after the water was turned off and then got up and put on some sweat pants and a t-shirt and headed for the bathroom. Just as I got to the bathroom door it opened and there was Xara, standing there, wearing nothing but a towel around her wet hair. I was stunned. I just stood there, slack-jawed, looking at the most perfect feminine form that I had ever seen, feeling more aroused than I had in … I don’t remember how long. I don’t know if Dixon and Johnson had boners like the one I was getting, but otherwise they were in the same state I was. Oh, and I didn’t see any hair anywhere except for what was on her head.

Xara put her hands on her hips, and then glanced down, then back up and said, “That’s more like it Joe. I almost lost my confidence yesterday. I assume you haven’t taken your medication this morning?” All I could do was nod my head.

She laughed lightly and then walked past me down the hall to her room. I turned to watch and discovered that from the backside she looked just as good. Just before Xara got to her room she stopped, turned around, walked back to me, turned me towards the bathroom door and gave me a gentle push saying, “I think that’s where you were going.”

I got into the shower and turned the cold water on full blast. Fifteen minutes later I stepped out, colder but minus my erection. I dried off, put on my sweat pants, and then went to my room to dress.

When I came out I could smell bacon and eggs cooking, Xara had decided to make us breakfast. When I walked into the kitchen she said, “I have a confession Joe. I waited in the bathroom for you to come out of your room. I hope you can forgive me for ambushing you like that. When I called mom yesterday she told me I should take it easy on you, but I just had to see for myself how you’d react without your medication.”

“How’d you know I hadn’t taken my medication?” I asked.

She said, “Last night before we went to bed I counted all the pills in their bottles. This morning I counted them again, so I knew you hadn’t taken any.”

I told her all was forgiven. Hell, not only was she forgiven, I would have paid cash money to see her in the nude. That doesn’t sound right. You know what I mean. Then Dixon said, “Ask her about shaving her legs.”

I almost laughed out loud, and then said, “We have some questions we’d like to ask you.”

She looked at me and asked, “We? Who’s we?”

“Did I say we? I meant me. I have a lot of questions I’d like to ask you.” Johnson thought this was funny.

We sat down to breakfast and she said, “Ask away.”

Dixon asked about her legs again. I knew he wasn’t going to shut up until I got that out of the way, and so I asked her, “Okay, for starters, how long does it take you to shave your legs?”

She just about spit her orange juice out through her nose, and after she got herself under control said, “Interesting ice breaker. Do you use that line on all the girls? I don’t shave my legs Joe. Or anything else. The only place hair grows is on my head, eyebrows and eyelashes. Same with mom and Sharon, and those Arions we killed.” Then she held her arm out so I could look at it, and lo and behold, there were no hairs on it.

Since she brought it up, I asked about them. “Who are the Aryans? Are neo-Nazis teaming up with Al Qaeda and the Taliban?”

She gave me a puzzled look, then giggled and said, “No no, you have it wrong. It’s A-r-i-o-n-s. They are from the planet Aria. You thought you killed a bunch of Nazis Joe? These guys are much more dangerous. Why did you think they were teaming up with Islamists?”

“In Kandahar I saw guys dressed like them, the same uniform, and clean shaven, working with the Taliban,” I said.

“How close did you get to them?” she asked.

“Not close at all, I saw them through a spotter scope,” I answered.

She was quiet for a few seconds and then said, “I’ll ask mom about it.”

I continued asking my questions. “So the Arions are from another planet? Are you from another planet?”

“Nope,” she said, “I was born right here on earth, near Death Valley. Mom wanted to be isolated in case there were complications. Sharon is from the planet Velor, which is where the Messenger you met comes from. Mom is Velorian, but her origins are … complicated. I’m not even going to try to explain that to you. You’ll have to ask her.”

“What about your father,” I asked, “is he one of those Messengers?”

“No,” she said, “he’s half human and half Galen.”

“Galen,” I repeated, “like that character from Lord of the Rings?”

“No, no, that’s Gollum, a fictional character,” she said.

“So, there are Velorians, and Arions, and Galen?” I asked.

“And Diaboli and Geheimites, and Scalantrans, and then all the seeded worlds with humans, and much more,” she said.

“So, we’re not alone.”

“Not at all,” she said, “this galaxy has all kinds of life forms and inhabited planets.”

Johnson was just shaking his head at all this. Dixon was still looking for traces of hair on her arms.

“What about the Arions, why did they have you in that cave? What are they doing here? What are Velorians and Galen doing here?” I had so many questions and could feel myself starting to get overwhelmed and wishing I had taken my meds.

“Joe, we’re going to have to slow down here, you’re starting to sweat and shake. Pick one topic, and we’ll talk about that.” And then she reached out and held my hand, and I started to calm down.

“Okay,” I said, “that might be better. Last night your mom said she could be here, from Southern California, in 15 minutes. She’d have to travel at, what, mach 5 to do that? How is that possible?”

She laughed and said “You know that, but you confuse Galen with Gollum? We can fly Joe. If it would take mom all of 15 minutes to get here it’s because she’d have to change her clothes first. Yesterday I got here in 12 minutes.”

Johnson just didn’t believe it and said her clothes wouldn’t be able to stand up to that. I said, “That’s hard to believe; because I don’t think your clothes could stand up to that.”

“These clothes,” she said “no, they couldn’t. I have a flight suit I wear. I’ll show you.”

And then she reached into the back pocket of her cut offs and pulled out a square of cloth that was about two inches on a side. She stood up from the table and stood back a couple of feet, took the square of cloth by the corner and snapped her hand, really fast, it was a blur, and the square of cloth unfolded into what she called her flight suit.

She held it up for me to see. It looked like a one piece swim suit with a diamond cutout at the midriff, and a red cape that looked like it would come down just below her butt.

Then she folded the cape over the rest of the suit, and then folded it again, and again, and again until it was a small thin flat square again. “Mom had a messenger from Velor bring me this. She said if she couldn’t fly all over the universe naked then neither could I.”

I think she was making a joke, but I’m not sure.

Johnson wanted me to ask about the ray gun, so I did. “That first Arion wasn’t stopped by my Ruger, but his ray gun cut him in two. But the ray gun wasn’t very effective against the second Arion, and when Sharon was shot with a ray gun it didn’t even slow her down. What was that all about?”

“That ray gun is called a GAR. It works by firing a high energy particle beam that acts both kinetically and energetically against its target.

“It doesn’t hurt Velorians, because we are invulnerable. Some Arions, like the second one you saw, are invulnerable too; they’re called ‘Primes.’ Other Arions, the majority of them, are very tough, but not invulnerable. They’re called ‘Betas’ and GARs are very effective against them.

“The first one you shot was a Beta. The second Arion was a Prime. The GAR delivered enough energy to slow him down a bit but it couldn’t hurt him.”

I interrupted here. “But what about when I aimed for his eyes? That seemed to stagger him.”

“Yes,” she said “that did bother him. Partly because your shots hit him above his center of mass and partly because you were disrupting his attempt to use his heat vision on you.”

“Heat vision?” I asked.

“Let’s take a break from the Q&A Joe and I’ll demonstrate heat vision for you. Put on a jacket or coat and meet me on your porch.”

I put on a jacket and went out to the porch with her. It was about 25 and there was more snow in the forecast. Xara floated out over the snow towards the garage and poked holes in the snow at about where the corners of the driveway would be. Then she came back to the porch and stood next to me.

“Okay Joe, the wind is blowing away from us. Watch the driveway.”

I watched the driveway and saw the snow at the top of it start to melt and collapse, then suddenly flash into vapor revealing the driveway underneath, and then the line of collapsing, melting, vaporizing snow advanced down the driveway to the street. All in all I’d say she cleared my driveway of at least two feet of snow in less than 20 seconds.

“And Arions can do that?” I asked.

“The Primes can,” she said. “That’s why mom told you to shoot at his eyes. It’s a good thing you thought to shoot the floor out from under him, because mom was at the bottom of her bag of tricks.”

We went back into the cabin and Xara volunteered to do the dishes. I sat down in the living room to think. Johnson and Dixon were doing the same. After a couple of minutes Dixon said I should find out why the Arions and Velorians are here on earth. Johnson said I should find out how many of them are here. Sometimes those two are a pain in the ass, but other times they can zero in on what is important with a clarity I just don’t have anymore.

When Xara finished in the kitchen she came out to the living room and sat down, and I asked her the questions Dixon and Johnson had thought of.

“Joe,” she said, “there is a war going on in the galaxy between the Arion Empire and just about everyone else. Some worlds have entered into an alliance, others are on their own. In some cases the Arions are waging out and out war against a planet, in other instances they are waging a war for hearts and minds, and in others they are trying to covertly subvert planetary governments from within.”

Earth is a special case, and has special rules. Xara tried to explain it to me, but neither I nor Dixon or Johnson really understood. It has something to do with earth being the home of the human race. And so the Arions and the Velorians are keeping things low key here. Kara is earth’s Protector, here to counter the Arions, and Sharon is a ‘Scribe.’ A Scribe is like a U.N. observer and is supposed to be a non-combatant.

Besides hating Velorians, for reasons I don’t understand, Arions consider themselves to be the Master Race of the Universe and refer to humans as “frails”. Once they take over a world they begin culling the population, keeping alive only those needed, and fit for, harvesting a planet’s resources.

I asked Xara if she is a protector too. She said, “No, not really. That’s mom’s gig. I want to go to medical school and become a surgeon.”

“Why a surgeon?” I asked.

“I want to help people, and I have the skills for it,” she said. “I can see through matter and have excellent hand eye coordination.”

“You can see through things?”

“Yep.” And then she went on to tell me the contents of my wallet, in detail.

By noon I was almost mentally exhausted. While Xara was eating the last of the lasagna I asked, “What is a Kiraling?”

She smiled and said, “Look in the mirror.” When I just looked at her she said, “A Kiraling mate is a person to whom a debt is owed. Under Velorian custom, since you saved our lives, you are now a Kiraling mate to me, mom, Sharon and Skar’el, the Messenger you saved. Saving a life incurs a lifelong obligation, and we would lay down our lives for you. Or some of us would. I wouldn’t count on Skar’el if I were you. When mom needed him most he tried to run. She said she’s recommending that he be recalled to Velor and permanently grounded.”

“Speaking of Skar’ el, are all Velorian men umm (Dixon and Johnson started laughing) err, as well endowed as he is?”

“I’d say for a Velorian male, or an Arion for that matter, that he is very average. I’ve only seen one Terran male who comes close to him. Mr. Kanada, my gym teacher.”

“You’ve seen your gym teacher … that way?”

“I can see through things, remember?”

I didn’t know what to say. Suddenly I felt very inadequate. Xara looked at me and said, “You’re blushing! You’d better not let it bother you Joe. If Sharon finds out she’ll tease you unmercifully.”

After lunch she changed into her flight suit and showed me how she put her clothes into a pocket in the cape. Once she sealed the pocket the cape went flat. You couldn’t even see a bulge where her clothes were. I asked her if she could carry all her luggage that way. She said, “No, I a put lap top in it once. It got crushed. So I only put clothes and paper in it.” And then she gave me a hug and went out to the front porch. I followed her out.

Just before she was about to leave she turned to me and said, “Joe, I have another confession.”

I said “Are you going to get naked? I don’t think my heart could take that again.” Dixon and Johnson disagreed, strenuously.

She laughed and said, “No, not this time. Joe, you saved my life, and for that I am very grateful. If you never do anything more for me, that would be enough. But you also let me into your home and let me talk on and on, and just be myself. Do you know that none of my friends at home know my name is Xara, or that mom is earth’s protector? It is so very hard not to let on that I have abilities Terrans don’t. Last week I was out on a date and the boy’s car got a flat tire. We had to wait for the auto club because he didn’t have a jack. I could have changed the tire with my bare hands in minutes. Instead we were late and lost our dinner reservations and missed the movie I wanted to see.”


“Yes Xara?”

“Can we be friends? Can I continue to visit you?”

Dixon and Johnson both groaned and Johnson said, “Oh no Ricci! You’ve been friend zoned!”

I said, “Sure Xara. I’d be happy to have you as a friend, and you can visit anytime you like.”

She gave me a hug and stepped back. I watched her float up about forty feet or so and then suddenly disappear in a blur straight up. Then Johnson said, “You forgot to ask how food goes to her boobs.”

Dixon, Johnson and I spent the rest of the day discussing what we had learned. I went to bed that night without my meds and had nightmares of being back in Afghanistan. But in these nightmares the Taliban were replaced by Arions slaughtering my buddies left and right. I woke several times during the night in a cold sweat, once I think I was screaming. Dixon and Johnson were no where to be seen.


To: Velorian Protector Corp; Velorian Scribe Corps

From: Velorian Senate Subcommittee on Enlightenment Affairs

Subject: Actions of Scribe assigned to Terra

The Subcommittee has been informed by the Velorian Ambassador to Rigel 7 that the Arions are lodging a complaint against the Scribe assigned to Terra. According to the complaint, said Scribe attacked and destroyed an Empire unarmed survey vessel, killing most of its crew.

The Subcommittee directs the Protector and Scribe Corps to conduct a fact finding mission to Terra and report said findings, along with a recommendation for action, to the Subcommittee as soon as possible.


Chapter 9

The weather was warming up and the county had sent a snow plow down the road to clear it, which was a good sign. If the county was getting to my road it meant all the arterials must be clear.

I checked in with Madigan and they wanted me back the next morning, so I started cleaning up the cabin in preparation to leave. A little after noon the phone rang and I answered it.


“Hello Joseph, this is Kara.”

“Yes ma'm.” Had Xara told her about the scene in the bathroom? Had I pissed off a mother who could tear me apart with her hands, or fry me with her heat vision, or strand me on top of Mt. Everest? Suddenly Dixon and Johnson showed up (where the hell had they been?) and told me to hang up and run.

“It’s Kara Joseph,” she said chuckling, “no need to be so formal with me.”

“Yes … Kara.”

“Joseph, I wanted to thank you for putting up with Xara over the weekend. Before she left we’d been fighting. From the time she came home yesterday until she left for school this morning all she could talk about was you, how nice you are, how interesting you are, and how good a cook you are. You made quite an impression on my daughter Joseph.”

“It was a pleasure to have her Kara. And she made quite an impression on me.”

“I imagine she did. She told me about that little incident in the bathroom.”

“Oh, well, about that ma'm, you see, I can explain …” Dixon said hang up. Johnson said I’m a dead man.

“Relax Joseph. Xara can be quite impulsive at times. What is important to me is that my daughter came home happy yesterday and got up happy this morning. If she is still this happy and easy to live with tomorrow I might just send her to you every weekend.”

“Yes ma'm.” Dixon said I couldn’t afford to feed her.

“Kara. Not mam. I’ll let you go now Joseph, but we’ll be in touch, and thank you so much for putting my daughter in such a good mood.” And before I could respond she hung up.

Johnson said, “You’re the Xara whisperer dude!”

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