It was Friday afternoon. James had called to say he would be off to his play soon. The bugs had been worked out on Thursday's opening night and tonight started the 3 day, 1st weekend run of the show. His head was totally in the play. He would be running on adrenaline until Sunday and then he would crash for Monday. They would see the play next weekend. He wanted his family to be aware of his endeavors. He wanted them to be proud, but Nola and Jamie had figured out a long time ago how to smile, say as little as possible and stay out of his way. Jamie had packed up her overnight bag on Thursday for her today's sleepover. Nola had dropped Jamie off at school in the morning so that James could sleep in. Jamie was going straight from school to the sleepover with another mom. She would drop Jamie’s overnight bag at Elena's house this afternoon before she went to Owen's. She'd be picking Jamie up Saturday morning around 11AM. Both Jamie and James would stay sleeping for most of Saturday. Jamie because no kid slept at a sleepover and James because he'd probably go out for drinks or a snack after the Friday performance to wind down and not get home until after 1AM.
When Jamie packed her overnight bag, Nola realized she probably needed an overnight bag for her sleepover as well. It felt a little strange to be planning the equivalent of a sleepover for sex. Who would understand this? She felt like Owen kept pushing beyond the ritual sex line. They were friends. She liked him. She liked being close to him and kissing him came to damn naturally and sex was a lot of fun and very effective ritually. She knew that some of the Solar Treguenda had sexual aspects and most could be pushed in that direction if the participants agreed. But non-initiates typically did not participate at that level. Owen had been unfazed by the sexual aspects from day one. He had even decided that Full Moon Rituals could and in his mind should have a sexual component and he was right there was always that option, but again typically not for non-initiates. It almost felt sometimes like she was the one being rushed.
It was after 4PM and Nola could leave from work anytime. Jamie was already at her sleepover and she would be expecting her stuff. There was nothing stopping her from going to Owen's early. But she was dragging her feet. Her office phone rang. She could see from the number it was Owen. She took a deep breath and answered.
"Hello Nola, it's Owen."
"What time should I expect you tonight?"
"I have to drop Jamie's overnight bag at her friend's house before I can come to your house."
"What time are you planning on doing that?"
"Oh right after work."
"What time are you getting off?"
"Well... I.. I can leave at anytime really."
"Great. How long will it take you to drop off Jamie's stuff?"
"An hour at most."
"Ok so you can be here just after 5PM then right?"
"Don't guess. Get here. It's my birthday remember. ....... Nola?"
"See you just after 5, OK?"
"OK, bye. See you soon." So much for dragging my feet.
Nola left work. She stopped to fill up the truck and then chatted for a while with the mom hosting the sleepover. She decided to pick up flowers for the May Day altar at a local store before she finally pulled up in Owen's driveway a little before 6PM. When he heard the gate he was out of the house and into the driveway. He stood there looking slightly irritated so she stopped the truck in the driveway instead of parking it under the grape arbor. As she got out of the truck he smiled. "What took you so long?"
"Oh I stopped for gas and then ended up having talking with the mom who's holding the sleepover. It is also Friday afternoon traffic. I didn't plan for that."
"Ok, since you've promised to stay tonight you're forgiven." And he hooked her arm and took her into the living room, where she did a double take.
"What happened to your beautiful table?"
"Oh I moved it upstairs."
"Upstairs? Upstairs where? How did you get that large table up the stairs?"
"I carried it. Come see." And he started up the stairs. And she didn't know what to do but follow him so that's what she did. He went into his bedroom and she followed slowly. He smiled and waved his arm over the altar which was already set complete with flowers. His bedroom was huge and had more than enough space for a circle.
"Oh... " and she looked down at the flowers she had in her hand and tried not to think about the implications of the altar being in the bedroom."
"I plan on casting a large circle. Good idea right?"
"Yes, I guess so."
He hugged her and said, "You sure are subdued right after work. Let's go downstairs and get you something to drink. You can leave your bag here."
And she looked down at the slightly larger bag in her hand and sighed and said, "Ok I'll drop it in the bathroom." She managed a smile when she came out of the door. Owen had waited for her and took her hand and waited until she went first out of the door and down the stairs. When she stepped into the kitchen she was surprised again. She looked back at him and waved her hand over the counter where there was a tray set with meat, cheese, crackers, grapes, strawberries, sliced kiwis. "Wha..?"
"I knew you were coming early and that we couldn't start the ritual until later. I figured that we needed something to eat but I also figured you wouldn't want much, so it's just a light spread. You forget my family is in the hospitality industry. I know how to make a phone call and have things delivered." He moved to the counter and pulled the wine from the bucket. She saw it was Prosecco and prepared herself. He smiled poured 2 glasses and then moved in for the toast and the kiss.
"To May Day and my birthday and you staying." And he clinked her glass and took a sip and waited for her to take hers. She took a sip and Owen moved in and put his hand behind her waist and pulled her in to a gentle but insistent kiss. And she had to admit that he was very good at that.
Owen was on to the next thing.
"Are you hungry?" and he sat down on the barstool.
"Not really, maybe a little." And since he sat, she sat and took another sip. He grabbed some meat and put it on a cracker and then pushed the tray closer to her. She took a cube of cheese and some grapes.
"I have the Jacuzzi warm for you. I thought we could soak and watch the sun go down before we start the ritual."
And she took another sip and thought out loud, "That's probably a very good idea. I think it would help me transition from work to witch. I'm not usually here so early and I feel like I usually have more transition time."
And he rolled his barstool closer and moved in for another gentle kiss and said, "I know, but I am very glad you are here."
And what could she do but smile at him. Then she thought and said out loud, "You know after today you are only 4 Treguendas from completing the wheel of the year."
"Really? Yes that's right. You know we've known each other for almost 6 months?"
And she said slowly, "6 months."
"I feel like I've known you longer than 6 months. I see you every week sometimes more than once a week. I miss you when you're not here. You've expanded my business and completely changed the way my home sits on its lot. For my birthday last year I went out with Roger and we drank all night. This year he told me that I'd be spending it with you before you told me that you could stay over."
"Really? Well Roger is a seer then."
"Nope, but he is pretty perceptive and my closest friend here in New Orleans, other than you of course."
And he grabbed another cracker and layered it with more meat. He popped a cube of cheese into his mouth and smiled at her. She had to smile back, he seemed so comfortable and happy. Why was she so on edge? She grabbed another small cluster of grapes and ate them slowly trying to figure it out. He could see that she was pensive. But figured, that since they had always started the rituals so soon after she arrived, this was just her way of preparing. She finished her grapes and stood up. He moved expertly and put his arms around her and pulled her so she was standing between his legs as he sat on the barstool. "Where are you going?"
She smiled at him and decided to give him a kiss because he could be so damn adorably charming. "I thought I'd get out of these clothes so I could get into your hot tub." He smiled at that and said. "Ok, I like that idea. You do that and I'll meet you in the hot tub."
As she walked to the downstairs bathroom to get out of her clothes, she thought to herself, this is ridiculous. Your student is more comfortable with this situation than you are. You need to pull yourself together. She closed the door to the bathroom and used the rheostat to lower the lights. She loved that Owen was such a designer that all his lights could be lowered from full beam to candlelight illumination. She breathed deeply and did her best to align her mind and body and spirit. She put the seat on the toilet down and sat on it. It was 2 days until the dark moon. She had always been able to count on Umbrea when she felt out of her league as a female. She had no problem battling it out in the practical work world. She had no problem when she dealt with day to day problem solving and rolling with the punches. But she so very often felt out of her league when being a girl. Her daughter had called it 'pinkness'. Pinkness was about acknowledging and respecting the feminine, about taking care of herself as well as she took care of others, about acknowledging those things that were pleasurable, and she smiled when she thought about how much being around a Taurus had helped her be more 'pink'. Umbrea was the enchantress and not necessarily the goddess you would think about when you thought of pink. But Umbrea had always been the goddess she called on when she needed to feel relaxed and powerful in her female skin. So Umbrea was who she sent a mental plea out to. 'Please Umbrea, settle my mind, relax me into my female skin, bless me with your gifts of enchantment.' Meana and Bellaria smiled. Nola was settling down. She wanted to put her hair up so it would get less wet and thought she might have to go upstairs to get some pins out of her purse, when she remembered that she had started to put her hair up this morning and changed her mind. Yep there they were bobby pins in her pants pocket. Thank you Umbrea. She piled her hair on top of her head. She breathed deeply one last time and then took off her clothes and hung them in the closet. The ritual would be done naked. It was officially the Goddess half of the year. Time to let clothes and all those other worries go. She saw her cord and took it off the hanger and with her, leaving it on the kitchen counter before she went outside.
Owen was already in the Jacuzzi. The wine bucket was within easy reach as were there 2 glasses and some strawberries and a little cheese on small plate. She smiled at him as she walked toward him. Such a Taurus. He watched as she walked and enjoyed the sway of her hips and the curve of her breasts and the fact that she walked so confidently. She slipped into the warm water with an "Ahhhhh."
"I was beginning to worry that you had changed your mind."
"Well actually I think I did. I feel more settled and relaxed now." And she moved closer to him to get her glass and he moved even closer to fill it.
He put his arm around her shoulder and thanks to Umbrea she went with it and slipped next to him he smiled and said, "The sky is getting darker and look at those shades of orange and pink."
"Red sky at night sailor's delight."
"Oh just something my grandparents used to say, "Red sky in the morning, sailor take warning. Red sky at night, sailor's delight. It seems to ring true for the weather."
"I'd never heard that before."
They sat quietly and comfortably, nibbling on cheese and feeding each other the strawberries, with bare snippets of unimportant conversation between them until Nola said, "Owen how dark can you make your bedroom?"
He smiled and said, "Cave dark."
She giggled. "I don't think the gods would mind if we started the ritual before 9PM do you?"
"I thought you'd never ask." He got out of the water dried off and wrapped himself in one of the towels that he had on a chair nearby and held the other one out for her to step into.
"Thank you, I completely forgot about towels."
"My pleasure." And he kissed her softly before he picked up the wine bucket and the plate.
She dried off with the towel and then wrapped it around her, then walked ahead to open the door for him. As he went through the door he said, "Why don't you take that tray upstairs to the table on the far side of the bedroom and I'll be right up." And then he put another bottle of Prosecco in the bucket along with a bottle of San Pellegrino and refreshed the ice. He toweled off and used the downstairs bathroom. Then he took the remainder of the Prosecco, and the newly iced and refreshed wine bucket upstairs.
Nola was coming out of his bathroom dry with her cord on and with her hair down when he walked in. He put the wine bucket next to the tray on the far side of the room and then asked, "Prosecco with the ritual or I have a red under the altar cloth?"
"Hmmm, I think the gods won't mind if we use the Prosecco."
He filled the chalice with the Prosecco. Nola said as she picked up the black binder and check to see that he had the May Day Ritual inside, "It's the goddess months and so I can cast if you'd like or would you like to stick with our tradition and you cast?"
"If we aren't running too foul of tradition then I'd like to cast. It settles me and I know exactly where I want the circle to be." And he smiled. Nola had told him that the circle was really a sphere and this was why when she cast she went around 3 times: to create the bottom of the sphere, to ensure the edges were strong and to close the top of the sphere. She had also told him that the circle, the sphere, was not affected by walls and could be cast beyond physical structures. Tonight Owen was casting the circle around his whole property. Nothing and no one was going to get to them. Tonight Nola belonged to him and the Gods.
After Owen cast the circle. Nola felt the Grigori come and their, what was that ….? anticipation..? Owen had obviously looked over the ritual because although he read his parts it was obvious he felt them as well. When Owen laid his blade at her feet and said. “My Lady, I give my power to You for this is so ordained. And with love I submit to you and I give my reign over to you.” He heard his grandfather say, “Yes you do. Yes you have.”
Nola gave the Charge… “Come all together in a circle, and secrets that are as yet unknown shall be revealed.” And Owen remembered his grandfather's words and wondered what he was missing. “…And your mind must be free and also your spirit, and as a sign that you are truly free, you shall be naked in your rites”… “Let her worship be the ways within your heart, for all acts of love and pleasure are like rituals to the Goddess….”
Nola blessed the Prosecco and they drank it. When the ritual was complete and Owen moved to her and completely enfolded her in a kiss that seared her soul then he picked her up and moved her to his bed. She felt like a goddess being worshiped and thanked Umbrea.
She moved to the center of the bed and smiled at him. "Just how widely did you cast that circle?"
"It encompasses the whole house, the yard and the pool."
"You have no idea."
And she smiled at him because he was so damn appealing. He moved to her and she kissed him and moving one hand around his back to cup his buttock and the other to find his sex and she said, "Oh my."
"I've been waiting to have you here all day."
"I feel that." And she moved to kiss his neck and he sat down leaned back and pulled her into a deeper kiss. She moved from the kiss to his nipples and very gently nibbled each one before she moved to his sex. She ran her tongue from his sacks to the tip of his penis as she gently ran her finger between his testicles along the extension of the now raised nerve and blood vessels. She then gently circled the tip of his penis with her tongue paying special attention to the slit before she took him into her mouth. "Oh my god woman how do you do that with your mouth."
She moved from him and said, "Oh my Goddess” she corrected. “And it's a true appreciation of the male form that allows me to do what I do. It also happens to please me." And she did the whole move again and then focused on taking all of him and feeling him get harder and lose himself in the sensations. He wanted her not just her mouth on him he wanted all of her. He managed to get his hand in her hair and pull gently. She looked up at him and he rolled her to her back and pulled her head back to expose her neck and he nuzzled it and then her breasts gently holding her nipple between his fingers. He released her hair and moved that hand to her breast as he moved his mouth and his other hand to her sex and licked and realized that she was not lying when she said pleasing him pleased her. She was wet and her labia were open. And he heard a small sigh escape her. He focused on her engorged sex and gently inserted his finger and there was another sigh and a gentle moan. And he realized that they were a perfect match because she pleased herself by pleasing him and he felt his penis grow harder as he realized how close she was to climaxing. He waited for the shudder and she said, "Oh please I need you." And he knew he needed her and entered her and began to slowly thrust and she moved to met him arching her back and matching his increasing thrusts until he exploded. And Owen thought this, this is what sex should be like every time.
She was happy, truly free and happy. This is what sex should be like. Free and fun and fulfilling. Thank you Old Ones. And Tago smiled. Meana and Bellaria knew this was only their beginning. Papa Eric was waiting for his grandson to wake up to how he really felt. Settrano had his work cut out for him. Tago wanted to make sure that Owen and Nola weren’t rushed.
Owen had rolled off of her but still managed to keep his arm wrapped around her. Nola had finally rolled to her stomach and put her chin on his chest. “Thank you. That was wonderful.”
“You know I don’t think any other woman has ever thanked me for sex.”
“Oh my, why not? That kind of happy sex is a gift. I’ve always said thank you, even before I knew I was pagan.”
“Of course…. Did you really cast the circle around the whole house?”
“Yes.” And he smiled.
“Good.” And she started to get up.
“Where are you going?”
“To use your decadent bathroom, if I may?” and she looked down at his hand on her arm and he smiled and let her go.
And he lay there and her grandfather said, “Impressive. She says thank you for sex. You should say thank you too son.”
Nola opened the door to the bathroom and turned off the light. Only the quarter candles and altar candles were burning. Owen got up. She asked him. “Shall I take the circle down now?”
He kissed her and said, “No, not yet. I want us inside this sphere of protection for awhile longer. Wait for me in the bed.”
She smiled and he went into the bathroom. She had taken her cord off in the bathroom. Owen took his off and wound the 2 cords together before putting them back down on the counter.
She saw the bottle of San Pellegrino water and poured a glass. Owen was right his bedroom was a cave. She was surprised to see that the clock said it was just before 11PM. It felt like midnight. She turned the clock to face the wall. She didn’t want to know what time it was or think about time passing. She was inside the circle and safe. “Yes,” Meana said, “You are safe here with Owen.” And she sat down in the chair and curled her legs under her and thought about that as she sipped her water. Then she leaned back in the chair and closed her eyes and smiled. Owen came out of the bathroom and didn’t see her on the bed and looked to the bedroom door. She giggled from the chair and said, “I’m here.”
He crossed the room fewer strides than she imagined and she smiled at him and said, “I promised I would stay. A Strega keeps her promises.” And his worry evaporated and he sat down on the ottoman. “Would you like water or more Prosecco.” And she leaned into him and said, “I’ll kiss you without Prosecco.”
He smiled and said, “Flirt.”
“Sometimes….. sometimes. Water or wine?” and grinned and giggled “I’m not up to turning one into the other, so you’ll have to choose.”
And he reached for a strawberry and had one ready for her to eat from his hand when she handed him his water glass.”
“What time is it?”
She put her finger on his lips finished her bite of strawberry and said, “Shhhhh it doesn’t matter. Right now we are timeless.”
He smiled and then she said, “But for the record, it’s not your birthday just yet.”
They nibbled from the platter and finished off their glasses of water and decided to open the other bottle of Prosecco and share a glass. Nola took a glass of water back to the bed and Owen took the glass of wine. Nola piled the pillows up against the head board so they could lean back into them and they settled in under the covers and took turns sipping from each other’s glass. Nola put her glass down and leaned back and sighed a contented sigh. Owen said, “That sounded happy.”
She sat up put her glass on the side board and then turned so she was leaning into him and facing him. “You know I am happy. I feel safe and happy and welcome. Thank you.” And she kissed him.
Owen thought, Why does it sound like that is so special? Then said, “Why wouldn’t you feel like that all the time? When do you not feel welcome?”
“Oh, I didn’t mean that I don’t feel made welcome by you. I do. Every time I’m here. What I meant was I …” and she thought and Meana finished her thought for her “you feel like you belong here and you do.”
…tonight I feel like we belong here.” And she kissed him. And he kissed her back and decided to put his glass down so he could give her his full attention. And they aroused each other again slowly, with touch and play and when they were finished she said, “Thank you and Happy birthday.”
And Owen smiled before he drifted contently off to sleep. I never imagined 44 could feel so good. Nola could hear his even breathing and decided that it was best to take the circle down. So she poured a bit of spirit flame into the bowl and took the circle down and bid Ave Vale and put out all the candles. Owen didn’t even stir when she gently snapped her fingers over the elementals. She used his bathroom again and crawled back into the bed. She was content and tired enough to sleep.
Owen stirred about 3AM. It was cave dark. He was rolling over when he realized that Nola wasn’t next to him. He started to feel around in the bed. No Nola. She said she was staying. She promised. Where could she be? He got up and went to the bathroom. The bathroom light illuminated the bed. Was that a foot? He walked back to the bed and sat down on it and then leaned over to the other far side. She was so close to the edge of the bed that he thought she was going to fall off. Her head and the pillows were at least 18 inches from the head board and one foot was draped over the bottom edge of the bed peaking out from the covers. He reached over to her and put his arm around her careful not to startle her and have her fall out of the bed and then said quietly, “Woman, what are you doing so far over there? You’re going to fall out of the bed.” She rolled over and smiled at him and said, “Hmmmm?”
“Why are you so close to the edge of the bed?”
And she answered half asleep, “I… I… I… James… sprawls... No snuggling. I steal the covers.” And she rolled back over to the edge of the bed.
And Owen thought more angrily than he said, “I am not James and I want you next to me.” And he put his arm around her waist and pulled her close to him “Hmmmm?….” and she roused a bit more. “What..??? What’s wrong?” He reached over her and pulled her pillows under her head. Then he turned on his side and draped his arm over her. She turned on her side, her back to him, and put her hand over his hand. He smiled at that and they both went back to sleep.
When he woke in the early dawn he noticed that she had managed to make her way back to the side of the bed but she wasn’t quite so close to the edge. She was on her side facing him, one foot was back hanging over the bottom edge of the bed. The other top leg slightly bent and the top cover, which he rarely used, twisted around her. One arm was under the pillow and her cheek, the other arm along her side. The top of one breast was just barely sticking out from the cover. He smiled. She was right she did steal the covers. She must have felt him looking at her because she stirred, opened her eyes and then smiled at him and curled into a tighter ball before she stretched out and both breasts peaked out from under the cover. She rolled back over to her side curled the covers over her and smiled at him again and said, “Happy Birthday.”
He said, “What are you doing way over there again?
“Get over here woman. I don’t understand how anyone could have something as lush as you in the bed and not want to wrap around it.”
“You are a strange man.” She said sleepily.
“I am not.” And he reached over and pulled her close to him and this time she hung onto the pillows and took them with her. He lay on his back with her still on her side and his hand down her back and she scooted back down so she could get her foot off the edge of the bed and nuzzled next to his chest and went back to sleep. And Owen smiled and lay there happily half asleep and half awake.
About 30 minutes later she stirred and ran her hand through the hair on his chest and nuzzled his neck and then ran her had down to his penis. And whispered in his ear, “Is that just because it’s the morning or would you like a birthday present before I have to leave?”
And he answered her with by kissing her neck and her nipples and enjoying how she used her hand as well as her mouth and he rolled to his back to enjoy her ministrations she decided to use her mouth on him which was actually what he was hoping for. When she felt him grow even further and his breath change she moved up and mounted him and he thought he had died and gone to heaven. He held her at her waist and she carefully controlled the rhythm and depth of penetration knowing that this was when she could take the most of him. When he was deepest, she squeezed her inner muscles and Owen knew this was absolutely the best birthday present he'd ever received. They were both inordinately satisfied and ended up sleeping again, Owen wrapped around her.
It was close to 9AM when Nola woke up again. She started to disentangle herself from Owen, but only got so far before he wrapped her up again. “Come back, you are my birthday present.”
“Well actually no, I just delivered your birthday present. I have to leave. You have to pick up your family from the airport. Remember.”
And he sighed and said, “I remember.” And she managed to slip into the bathroom. She brushed her teeth and her hair but realized that all her clothes were downstairs. He met her at the door. “Wait right here.” And he closed the door behind him.
She sat on the chair at the small desk area and waited. He opened the door back up and took her hand. “Come take a decadent shower with me.” And she smiled at him because that actually sounded fun.
Owen got the water temperature just right and then pulled her in. They enjoyed getting each other soapy and Nola said, “I love this shower and it’s mighty fun having company.” Owen had to agree. He had always liked the shower. He had designed it because he liked it. But he had never really planned on having this much fun getting clean despite the fact that they managed not to have sex again. He wrapped her in a towel and then grabbed one for himself and when she saw him put the towel over his head, she slipped downstairs to get dressed. When he realized she wasn’t in the bathroom any more he pulled on some pants and dashed down the stairs with the towel still in his hand. She was coming out of the bathroom fully dressed. “Where do you think you’re going?”
“I thought I’d make some coffee before I leave.”
He smiled and said “No I’ll do it.” And he set the coffee up and said, “Don’t leave yet.” and didn’t wait for answer before he went back upstairs to finish dressing.
Nola went out into the backyard to check on the trees.
Owen came down and no Nola. Damn that woman always disappearing. He looked out the side door her truck was still there so she was here somewhere. He poured the coffee and saw from the kitchen window that she was in the backyard. Of course, she was checking on the trees. He met her on the back patio. She was squatting down putting her fingers in the ground around the trees.
"What are you doing?”
"Checking the moisture level. The leaves look good but I wanted to make sure that the mulch was ok and that the root balls were not too wet or dry." And she got up and started walking toward him brushing off her hands
"And?" and held the coffee cup out to her
She smiled, "They're all fine. You're doing a great job of taking care of them."
And they sat on the back patio and finished the coffee.
He could see that she was shifting gears and preparing to, he thought leave but it felt more like bolt. "You're thinking about leaving aren't you?"
"I have to get Jamie at 11 and I was wondering what time it was. I've completely lost track of time."
"Unfortunately it is after 10 and I know you have to leave soon. But don't forget you are coming back here for dinner on Thursday 6PM."
And she sighed. "You're sure that's such a good idea? It's bad enough Roger and the guys think I'm your girlfriend."
"Damn, am I such an embarrassment?" He joked.
She smiled and said, "No, of course not."
"Well then what it is?"
"Well.... other than the fact that it's not true and that I am married?"
He managed a smile, "Yeah, other than that?"
"It seems to complicate an already unusual situation. I know that studying a pagan path isn't something that is easily shared with most people. And too bad for that, but this facade.... I don't know. It makes it even more confusing."
"Really? It's not confusing to me. I like you. We have fun together. We work well together. You're a girl. Roger decided you were my girlfriend. My having a girlfriend will make my mom happy. You have a fabulous student. I have a fabulous teacher. We get to do the rituals together. I really don't see a down side."
"Well when you put it like that...." and she laughed but only lightly as she thought, but you're not the one who goes home to another life. The life you have doesn't change much for you once I leave. Mine does. Significantly. She got up and started walking back to the kitchen. He followed. She grabbed her purse and keys and he kissed her and said, "See you Thursday, right?"
"Right. I promised, didn't I?" and she smiled at him.
"Right and I know a Strega keeps her promises."
And he watched as she waved as she left the driveway.
"Well, son, that was some birthday."
Owen smiled. "Yes it was."