His mind wandered. He and Nola had spent a good bit of time together lately but lot of it had been associated with getting the landscaping business off the ground, up to and including taking care of Leblanc. Roger couldn’t stop kidding him about LeBlanc. Joe told the story with flare. He took special relish in the part where Owen was out gunned at the restaurant and left sitting there with Bryant. But Joe's favorite part was how he had knocked on the door just as Nola was going to have to let LeBlanc take her to the upstairs bedroom with a large king sized bed. Nola set LeBlanc up like pins. Then he and Nola had ridden off laughing leaving Owen to knock Leblanc down perfectly by landing all the landscaping and maintenance jobs as well as the large fencing and path work jobs at the Lakefront. After they story had been told a few times. Roger and Joe became a team and Roger told the first half of the Leblanc story about the pool party and Joe finished it. An occasional comment from Maurice was guaranteed to spice up any telling. Nola was becoming a legend among his crew. And Owen was considered a very lucky man.
The plans he and Roger had to look over tomorrow morning were prepared. He had worked out in his weight room and then had swum laps while Latasha had cleaned the house. Owen had already set the altar. Everything was ready. There was nothing left to do. What was bothering him? He felt like there was something he should know but that he was missing it. It was frustrating. Was there something Nola was supposed to tell him that she had missed? No. That would be very unlike Nola. She was more likely to tell you something you’d prefer not to hear than to hold anything back. Then what was it? What was he missing? He ended up taking a long shower hoping the warm water would beat it out of him. He felt better afterward. It helped that she should be there any minute.
Nola drove letting the other aspects of her life slip away and becoming teacher and priestess. She felt that she had gotten Owen’s training back on track. He was initiated. She thought the prep work for the Summer Solstice was as solid as she could get it. They had spent time getting the landscaping business off of the ground but the good thing about that was Joe was well on his way to trained. Summer heat would slow down the kind of landscaping they did. So she wouldn’t need to spend quite as much time with him on that. All in all things were looking better. She was looking forward to a Full Moon Ritual and the calm that had always settled over her afterward. She had decided not to worry about how the ritual would end. The Gods and the Grigori would take care of that. The only thing she knew for certain was that when the ritual was over she was leaving.
She pulled into the driveway a little after 9PM and Owen met her at the side door.“Evening, Owen.”
She looked up and said, “It looks like the sky is trying to clear with the cool of the evening. I’m looking forward to some moonlight in your backyard” and she took his arm and he turned and walked to the kitchen. Ok, she thought, what’s up? The energy is off.
“You are always welcome in my backyard, moonlight or no moonlight.”
Owen headed for his office, got out of his clothes put his new 1st degree cord on and went outside. Nola met him there. He was focused on the sky when she came out.
She walked up next to him and breathed in the night and the moon came out from the behind the clouds.He turned to her and said, “Did you do that?”
She smiled and teased a little, “I don't think so. Did you? It’s nice. We should take advantage of the clearing and do the Rite of Union."
She breathed deeply and said the Rite and did the motions while he matched her. He perked up a little. She did the Rite again while he matched her. She breathed and his breathing was entraining with hers naturally. She did the Rite again while he matched her. After the third time the moon began to slip behind the fluffy clouds.She smiled. “I guess that’s our hint to go inside.”
He almost smiled and they walked back to the kitchen. He said, "Everything is set up upstairs.”She was so grateful that he liked taking care of the ritual set up. “Thank you very much for taking care to have everything we need."
And he smiled at that, "Well it's really just wine, cookies & some flowers from the garden. The rest comes out of that Harry Potter box of yours."
"It's still wonderful that you do it. Thank you."
She found her ritual binder and looked to him, “Would you like to cast?" He nodded and began and as soon as he began the energy began to change. His calls to the Grigori and the Gods were strong and so were the responses. It actually looked like he got taller. And she smiled to herself. I don’t know what’s bothering him, but it is good to see that the Ritual does for him what it does for me. It lightens burdens somehow.
He rapped the wand on the altar and said, “The circle is cast.”
“We gather on this sacred night of our Lady, beneath the Full Moon…” And as the words washed over him Owen relaxed a bit more. They linked over the Brunello in the chalice and Owen felt like what ever he was looking for was coming to him.
They both settled into a comfortable position on the floor before Nola led them on a meditation. They both knew where they were going.
"It is a beautiful pleasant night.... The moon is high in the sky but hidden by light clouds… yet through the clouds the moonlight still tinges the path a light blue… you know the way and walk over the edge of a bowl shaped valley... the sound of the bubbling stream guides you as you walk along the soft path.... You smell the earthly scent of the oaks and the crisp scent of the pines… you step out of the trees to a smooth lake made silver by the light of the moon now free from the clouds... you breathe in the moonlight... and then slowly make your way to a round temple.... you enter... and acknowledge the God and Goddess statues...... and then you step into the pool of moon light coming through the center of the roof..... You breathe in and out and align yourself with the energy of the moon........ You leave the temple and make your way up a path that takes you to a high ledge in the side of the bowl-like valley..... You lay down on the ground under the moon and stars and open yourself up to the universe and all its wonder......"
Owen listened and let his mind follow her voice and the images it created. He was on the high ledge and so was his grandfather. “Papa Eric, I feel like there is something right in front of me but that I can’t see it. What is it that I am missing?”“Son, I can give you hints. I can guide you but I can’t just give you the answer. You have to be ready for it.”
“What do I have to do to be ready?”
“You are on the right path. Stay on it.”
“Does this mean that Nola is part of the answer?”
Nola lay back and opened herself to the universe. Tonight the physical reality of the meditation was strong. Images of marble columns and white robed men and women floated in her mind. She felt a strong sense of a place of healing. Who needs healing? And Meana answered her, “You do.”And Nola almost gasped, “Am I physically ill?” And the answer came, “No, but your heart needs healing. You need to feel safe and happy again.”
And Nola sighed, “I would like that. I would like that very much.”
And the vision faded.
Nola ended the meditation with, "in the distance you hear the howl of one wolf..... and then the answering calls of others..... you make your way back..... past the temple.... past the silver lake.... through the oaks and pines .... up... to where you return to the world....."
Owen slowly opened his eyes as he came back to himself. Nola did the Veglia, then blessed the cakes and wine and offered the plate with the cookies on it to Owen and took one herself. She took a sip of wine and then handed it to Owen. When he returned it to her she then offered the traditional toast to Aradia. She refilled the spirit bowl and relit the flame. And then gave the Charge. Each time he heard her give the Charge her felt a different part it resonate with him. Tonight it was “For she has been with you since you entered into the ways and she is that which awaits you at journey’s end.”
Nola recited the closing and then took Owen’s spirit blade from the altar. Tonight would be the first time they charged his blade. Owen smiled faced her with his arms open. She stepped into his arms and put the blade to her chest. He pulled her close until the blade was wedged between them, careful with the point and the handle as his blade was larger. He held her close and they kissed gently. They hugged gently moving their combined energy into the blade. They kissed gently again and then Nola removed the blade from their embrace and put it back on the altar.
She added a very small amount of spirit fuel to the bowl and relit it. Owen moved to the altar and began to take the circle down. He snapped his fingers over the elemental bowls and put out the candles. It was dark in his bedroom but he knew exactly where she was. He found her and lifted her and moved her to the bed without saying a word. She didn’t resist.
He kissed her and in the deep darkness she felt as if she were completely outside of time and space. She kissed him more urgently and wrapped her leg over his calf and moving her hands around his back. He felt like he could dissolve into this woman and had a clarion moment: God, Goddess, One. She moved slightly from under him and began to kiss his neck and move one hand across his chest and other up his thigh until both hands and her mouth found his sex. He moaned as she slowly circled the tip of his penis with her tongue while running her fingers along the ridge on the underside of his shaft. Then she slowly took all of him and worshipped the God until he was ready to explode. But he needed them to be joined. He reached for her and found her wet open sex with his fingers and she moaned and in the process released him. He moved so he could use his mouth as well as his fingers, until a small, “please… please” escaped without her realizing it. He moved to enter her. She had been transported since the first kiss and as he entered her they both were lost in the physical and dissolved each into the other.
Meana let them stay semi-conscious, floating in the left over and positive energy of the ritual, then sent them both into a deep sleep. Nola woke and was completely disoriented. Initially she wasn’t even sure which way was up and which down. When she moved her arm slightly she was able to find up and realized that she was partially on her side and partially on her back. Then she returned more fully to herself and realized that she was in Owen’s bed. He was on his side and had his hand across her ribs and his leg over and between hers. Something wasn’t right. The she realized that her head was at the lower corner of the bed and that she and Owen were essentially sprawled diagonally across the bed. Well that explained some of the disorientation. She moved slightly and was able to slip from under his hand. He hadn’t moved and she took that as a good sign. She slipped a little bit further from him and was able to get out from under his leg. Her exit from the bed was successful but it wasn’t graceful because she had to essentially hold herself up with one hand on the floor in order to slip out from under his weight without waking him. When she was all the way out of the bed she ended up sitting on the floor. Owen rolled flat onto his stomach and kept sleeping. Thank the Gods. She made her way silently out of the room, grateful that her eyes where adjusted to the dark. She found her clothes and her keys without turning the light on in the bathroom and got dressed in the kitchen where the light from outside made it easier to see. Without realizing it she left her cord on the kitchen counter. She cringed knowing the noise could wake Owen then started the truck, slipped out of the driveway and made her way home. When she looked down at the clock on the dashboard it said 2AM. How was it possible that 5 hours had passed? It wasn’t the first time that she was forced to acknowledge that when you walked between the worlds time could pass very slowly or very quickly.
Owen didn’t wake until 6AM. He was disoriented too. But came around faster because it was after all his bedroom and because now there was more light outside. Why was he diagonal in the bed? He rolled over then realized that Nola should be here. He moved around in the bed and then sat up. She wasn't here. What time was it? 6AM! How was that possible? They had started the ritual a little before 10PM. He got out of the bed and crossed the upstairs hall into his weight room. He looked out of the window and could see that her truck was gone. He realized he had no idea when she had left. It could have been 10 minutes ago or hours ago. He walked back to his bedroom and returned to the bed. As he lay there he wondered if it was his initiation that had made the Ritual so… so… powerful, yes, but no… what was the right word… otherworldly. Then he realized that his energy had been different yesterday. He remembered feeling like some answer was just out of his reach. The feeling was still there but it wasn't as strong and bothersome as it had been yesterday. He thought back to the meditation. Papa Eric had said that he was on the right path and that Nola was part of the answer. Now if he could just figure out the question.
He sat up on the bed and the altar was right in front of him. He sighed. The ritual may have been otherworldly but the altar was real. It took no time to pack the altar trappings into Nola’s Harry Potter Box. After he did that the only thing left as a reminder that the ritual had happened was the wine bottle and the vase of flowers. He shook his head, picked them up and tossed the bottle and the flowers into the trash. He added the vase to the rest of the altar trappings.
He headed to the shower. Even as the water beat down on him he couldn’t shake the odd feeling that last night almost seemed like it had happened to someone else or in a dream state. What he really needed was Nola. One minute she was here. Then she was gone. Her ability to slip away seemed downright magical. He felt like… like… he didn’t know what.
Roger was due at his house around 9AM to review plans for upcoming jobs.He needed to get his game on. He got dressed and went down to make coffee. When he sat on the barstool he saw Nola’s cord. He picked it up and looked at the clock. It was before 8AM. She was usually at work early. He found his cell phone and took a chance and called her cell phone. It ran twice and then she answered.
And as she opened the phone she glanced down at the number, “Hello Owen.”“Hi… I was calling to make sure that you made it to work Ok.”
“Not yet, I just dropped Jamie off at school. I’m on my way to work now.”
“Really? Where are you?”
“In the truck.”
“Very funny, woman. What street?”
Good he thought she hasn’t passed me yet. “Could you please stop by on your way to work?”
“Is something wrong?”
“I’m not sure.” But part for him was thinking; Yes, damn it, you are not here.
“You’re not sure… Ok, I’m on St. Claude now. I’m less than 5 minutes away.”
And she hung up. And he looked at the phone. Just like that she’d be there. No questions. Just Ok, see you in 5 minutes.
Nola thought the phone call was odd. In addition to it being unusual for Owen to call after a ritual, he had sounded strange. She thought that last night's ritual had been powerful and good. Perfect actually, a ritual moment out of time. Granted she had been a little disoriented and disconnected from everyday reality when she woke up. But it had cleared. She was hoping he just needed some reassurance.
She pulled into the driveway and all the way to the kitchen back door and got out of the truck. Owen was standing in the doorway."Damn woman, did you fly that thing here?"
"I told you I was close." He looked unsettled but sounded like himself and his energy was more like it usually was and not like what she had seen before the ritual yesterday.
"Well, I think about calling you. You answer on the 2nd ring. You're here in less than 5 minutes and then you pull all the way down the driveway to the back door."
Maybe he wasn't Ok. Maybe the disorientation hadn't worn off. "Owen, you said you weren't sure if everything was Ok. Why don't we go inside and you tell me what's going on." And she took his arm and he hugged her before she turned him into the kitchen.
"Ok tell me what's wrong." And she sat on the barstool."I don't know."
She looked worried, "Is this about the ritual or.... Is there something else going on? Are you sick?"
"No, I'm fine." He huffed.
"Well then?..." and she looked at him like what is it? "I can't help if I don't know what the problem is."
"That's the problem. I don't know. One minute we were... joined... and then I wake up all turned around in the bed. You aren't here! And it's 6 o'clock in the morning!" and she started to smile. "All day yesterday... What are you smiling at woman?"
"You. It's going to be fine." And she stood up and opened the refrigerator and, ah there were English muffins. She took them out and then found the butter.
"What are you doing?!""Owen, what you need more than anything else right now is to properly ground. Nothing helps that like food." And she turned the oven to broil, adjusted the top rack close to the top heating coil and then started buttering an English muffin.
She finished buttering the English muffin and opened the oven and put the muffin on the top rack leaving the oven door cracked slightly.
"Where are your small plates?"
He pointed and she opened the cabinet.
He pointed. "Why did you just disappear on me?"
She got the salt and then checked the muffin, giving it a little more time. "I didn't disappear. I'm right here."
"You know what I mean."
She turned off the oven and slid the muffin on to the plate and put a pinch of salt on it, and slid the plate to him.
And he looked at her straight in the eye and defiantly took a bite..."Hey that little bit of salt makes a difference!"
"See." As if it were all better now.
"Oh no, it's not that easy. Why did you disappear on me?""Ok Owen, you are right. The end of our ritual last night was different. We were not ourselves. I think we managed to channel greater energies. We did it exactly right. But I admit that when I woke up I was a little disoriented."
He smiled at that, "You were?" and took another bite as he realized he was starting to feel more like himself.She smiled back, "Yes, we were diagonal in the bed and all tangled together. At first I didn't know where I was. I managed to slip out from under you and you were out, solid, cold, out, soundly sleeping. There was no reason for me to wake you. So I went downstairs got dressed and got in the truck and when I did I noticed that it was 2AM."
"2AM, you didn't leave until 2AM? What happened to us? We don't usually... whatever we did last night."
"Well... I agree that last night was different. But the ritual seemed Ok to me. Did it to you?""Yes... same Rite of
"Well your energy was different yesterday."
"Yes. You were distant. It was as if something was bothering you. You seemed preoccupied or focused almost outside of yourself. Searching. But the Rite of Union perked you up and then the circle casting seemed to center you and the ritual went well. Sometimes, when the world is bothering me, a Full Moon Ritual can be therapeutic. I hoped that was what it would be for you."
And he sighed and finished off one half of the muffin.She continued, "I was focused on just doing the ritual. I wasn’t sure what would happen after the circle was down. I had decided to let the Gods and the Grigori decide… You know we don't have to follow that specific tradition every Full Moon.... When you acted.... I just followed your lead." And she paused thinking before she said, "You said we were joined."
"Yes. It was amazing. God, Goddess, One and we were the physical manifestation of that and then we... we..."we weren't physical."
She smiled. "I think we did it exactly right. Maybe better than we've done it before."
"Oh no. I think we've always done just fine."
"What I mean is maybe that what ever searching state you were in and whatever totally open accepting state I was in made it possible for us to go places we hadn't been before. And maybe this is what made me and you a little disoriented when we finally came fully back to our physical selves."
He thought about that. It did make sense.
She said, "Finish your muffin. It will help. I really have to get to work. I was already running late because I had to take Jamie to school."He looked at the clock it was after 8:30.
She watched as he looked at the clock and picked up her keys and said, "I'll still see you Saturday for Summer Solstice, right?"
"Of course." And he gave her an exasperated look.
"You're sure you're Ok?""Yes, woman I'm fine." And he sighed.
"Ok, see you Saturday for Solstice."