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Authors Note:

As always, my thanks go to neuroparenthetical. I send him a random collection of words and he turns it into something readable.

I hope it lives up to expectations, and beg you all to please rate and comment.
Caleb 23 – The Dean’s Daughter

I’d dedicated Saturday to Josh and Louise’s illusion; I hadn’t been sure how it would go, or how much time I’d need to recover afterwards. It had gone well, as far as I was concerned. They had thoroughly enjoyed themselves, and Dianna had been reasonably satisfied with the illusion I had spun, only finding a few flaws that might have given it away to someone thinking with anything other than their loins.

I knew I needed more practice, and I also knew that Josh and Louise weren’t going to be enough. To use Dianna’s words, they were an extremely credulous pair. They would certainly help me strengthen my ‘dumb’ illusion-crafting muscles, but in order to truly master the craft, I would have to pit my powers against subjects who were clearheaded and on-guard. I would even have to craft illusions that didn’t involve any sex at all.

Sunday morning, I had to listen to a pitch from Josh and Louise. They had put together a business plan that they said was a surefire money maker. It obviously revolved around my illusion capabilities, and I was starkly reminded of Quark, the Ferengi on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, trying to interest people in his salacious holodeck programs.

Over and over, they tried to explain that with the right clientele - mostly rich business owners - the risk of people discovering my power was minimal. They said there would be no need for marketing or advertising, as once we got our first client, he or she would spread the word among their friends. We could make a killing.

I declined to remind them that if I was even remotely interested in such an idea, I had no need of their administrative services. Nor did I point out the oxymoronic business plan that had us both having clients sign non-disclosure agreements and spreading the word among their peers. Instead, I told them that I wanted to do something more fulfilling with my life. To further soften the blow, I gave them the short version of my rather fraught position in the powered-people ecosystem. They made all the right sympathetic noises at that, which had been nice of them.

I also pointed out that rich businesspeople could be just as bad as, if not worse than, the government when presented with a fancy new gizmo. I didn’t have much faith in NDAs being honored when potentially billions of dollars were on the line. That kind of leak, of course, would bring the government’s shadow division right back into the mix. I told the crestfallen pair that I’d probably end up doing little more than giving the feds an extra reason to be mad at me before yanking on the leash.

In the end, it took Jules’ intervention to get them to leave it alone.

“Guys!!!” she said angrily after nearly an hour of argument. They both looked at her, shock on their faces. “Caleb is too nice, so I’m going to say it: drop it. There is no way that he is going to waste his life as some sleazy psychic pimp. Can you imagine it from his perspective, having to sit in a room watching some fat, sweaty old perv getting their rocks off, or having to spend time with said perv creating his fantasy to begin with? Aside from everything else, that would be a complete and total waste of his powers.

“There are people who are being abused, raped, and worse by people with power. You want him, instead of helping to stop them, to waste his talent on this? If sex work is such an attraction to you, why don’t you both set yourselves up as escorts? I’m sure there are plenty of rich, sweaty old men who would love to take you both on. You could make a killing.

“So, wind your fucking necks in, drop this shit, and be grateful for what you are getting from him. If you’re looking to ride his coattails to riches, you’re backing the wrong horse.”

She then sat in my lap and laid her head on my chest. I could feel her trembling. Despite the harshness of her words, I’d guessed that she had wanted to say even more and had held back.

Josh and Louise looked dumbfounded, and after a moment, they both got up and went into their room, closing the door softly behind them.

Amanda chuckled. “Well, that told them,” she said.

“Are you okay?” I asked Jules, stroking her back. She looked up at me, her eyes wet.

“They just got me so mad,” she said. “I’m not sure whether it was Josh, who seemed to have a head full of dollar signs, or Louise thinking with her pussy again. All they were concerned about was what was in it for them. They are supposed to be your friends. They say they love you, but it seemed like they were just trying to use you to get their own needs met.”

“They just got a little bit carried away,” I said. “It happens. Don’t let it upset you. Besides, I wanted to talk to you - the three of you - about this too. I need to practice my illusions. I was wondering if you guys had any fantasies - and I’m not just talking about sex - that you might like a shot at? Ever think of driving a race car, or climbing Everest? Maybe get a tour of the Enterprise?”

Jules’s eyes widened at that. “You could do that?” she asked.

“I think so,” I replied. “I’m not quite as big a Trekkie as you, so you might spot the illusion, but it will be good practice for me. Why don’t you and I spend some time ***********ing it out, and when you’re ready you can go take a look?”

Jules leapt off my lap like I’d stuck a pin in her. “I’ll go download the schematics,” she said, and dashed from the room.

Mary looked at me, a smile in her eyes. “You really do know how to push all of our buttons,” she said.

“How about you?” I asked.

“You already fulfilled my fantasy,” she purred, “and it was no illusion. But I’ll think about it. I think I’d rather keep my sex life in the real world, but there might be some other things I’d like to try.”

“Amanda?” I queried.

“I’m like Mary,” she said. “I want real sex, not imaginary. It might be nice, though, to do the Pretty Woman shopping scene - the ‘after’ one when she goes back and spends loads of cash.”

“Wouldn’t you be disappointed when it ended,” I asked, “and you found that you didn’t still have all the things you bought?”

“Nah,” she said. “That kind of shopping is for the experience, not the purchases. In fact, now that I’m thinking about it, I’d like to do the before and the after. It would be so much fun rubbing those bitches’ noses in it.”

Mary and I grinned at each other.

“I guess,” I said ruefully, “I’m going to have to watch Pretty Woman.”

Both girls were appalled that I had not seen the film, and so we spent the next two hours immersed in the nineties romcom. I could have quite easily gone my entire life without watching it, but Julia Roberts had a nice butt, so I couldn’t call it a total waste.

It also gave me the outline for the fantasy that Amanda wanted, of course. I just needed to do a little research on Rodeo Drive and write a bit of a ***********, and then I’d have her illusion ready.

When the movie had ended, Jules was back into the room, almost hopping from foot to foot. It was so cute to see her excitement. She was like a little girl queueing to see Santa. My heart swelled seeing her so happy, and I hoped that I wouldn’t disappoint her.

We wouldn’t have time to do the actual illusion, but we spent the next couple of hours talking about it, deciding where she would go, who was going to show her around, Mr. Data, of course - and if anything would happen while she was there. I dangled the idea of a twenty-first-century jury-rig that only occurred to her, and she loved it. Even if we never got to perform the illusion, she had a brilliant night planning it all out. I had a wonderful night seeing her so full of innocent anticipation.

When it was time for me to go to bed, Mary accompanied me. We showered together and then spent some time making love. It was gentle and loving, and there were no powers involved. Amanda, still sitting in the living room, would obviously share Mary’s orgasm; those two were forever joined at the clit – and likely a few other naughty places too. It was so natural and wonderful to reconnect with the girl I had been butting heads with. We had had sex since we had settled our differences, but that was our first lovemaking, and it was perfect. I fell asleep with her in my arms.

Josh and Louise didn’t join us for breakfast the next morning. I wasn’t sure whether they were hiding or sulking. I guessed that I would find out sooner or later.

As had become our new norm, the four of us travelled into uni together. George was waiting for me again. I sighed as I approached him. He looked haggard, but happy.

“Sue and I would like to take you guys out to dinner,” he said.

“Dinner?” I asked. “What’s the occasion?”

“I don’t want to steal her thunder,” he said. “Can you make it tonight?” The girls and I looked at each other. We all nodded.

“Perfect,” he said. “Meet us at Giovanni’s on Seventh Street at six-thirty.”

After he left, I looked at the girls.

“She fucked him half to death,” grinned Amanda. “Did you see how tired he was? I’ll bet they didn’t get out of bed from when they got home after being at ours until this morning.”

“He doesn’t look too upset about it,” I commented wryly.

“Would you be?” she countered coyly.

I silently conceded the point, and got goodbye kisses from the three of them. After that, we all split up and went to our various classes.

I had three people approach me during the day, having been referred by Jamie, the counselor, for help in losing weight. I worried I was going to need a secretary soon; that thought made me feel a little guilty about how quickly I’d deemed Josh and Louise dead weight vis-a-vis their business proposition. All of my former smoking-cessation clients were done with their visits, but I still had sessions booked with twelve of the fourteen people who were on my weight-loss program. I wondered if I could start doing group sessions for followup to make it less time-consuming. I also realized I needed to talk to a tax accountant. I was currently making six hundred dollars a week on top of the three thousand a month the FBI was paying me. Then there was my allowance, and the money I was getting from Josh and Louise. The last thing I needed was the IRS on my tail.

Despite all the balls and chainsaws I felt like I was juggling, I was able to focus enough on my classes to get the information I needed. Ever since I’d retrained my brain to better absorb and synthesize information, college had felt like a lazy afterthought. Going to classes was about keeping up appearances - and, I supposed, being polite to the professors and other students. I knew that with a glance at the textbooks, I could probably ace every exam.

I waited in the car park for the girls at the end of the day. Amanda and Mary arrived, but Jules appeared to be running late. I was just about to ‘contact’ her when she emerged from the uni followed by the tall guy, Jasper, who had been hassling her. She had asked me to let her deal with it, and so I hung back - at least until he grabbed her arm and turned her around.

“Grab your phones and record this,” I sent to the twins.

I approached as Jules was trying to extricate her arm from his hand. He was much stronger than her.

“Let go of me,” she said. He laughed. Neither of them had noticed my approach.

“Or what?” he taunted.

“Or you’ll have to deal with me!” I said, startling the pair of them.

He released her arm and Jules moved to me, putting her arms around me.

“Caleb,” she said, tears in her eyes.

“Are you okay?” I asked.

She nodded. “He just won’t leave me alone.”

“Go to the girls,” I said. “I’ll have a word.”

Jasper tried to sucker punch me as I looked away, but I had heard his intention, and my hours and hours of martial arts training kicked in. I blocked the punch. Every instinct I had told me to follow up, but I didn’t.

“Now that you’ve gotten that out of your system,” I said, “can we talk like men, or are you going to behave like a schoolboy?”

He took another swing. I blocked again. He was getting angrier. On his third swing, I caught his arm, put him in a wristlock, and took him to the floor. He yelped.

“You have a choice,” I said. “You either leave Jules alone, or I go to the university counselor and report that you are harassing a female student. If that isn’t enough to get you expelled, then assault should do the job.”

“Wait!” he cried. “I can’t get expelled. I’m on a study release from my job. I’ll get fired.”

“Then your choice is simple,” I growled. “Stay away from Jules. Next time I won’t be quite so nice.”

“I can’t stay away,” he replied. “We have the same classes.”

“You know perfectly well what I mean,” I said. “Go to classes, but leave her alone. If I hear that you have been harassing her any more, I promise you, being expelled will be the least of your worries.”

I heard his thoughts and realized why he was so interested in Jules. He wasn’t going to let her go that easily. I decided to up the ante.

“Dean already knows all about you,” I told him. “Sorry, maybe you don’t know his first name. I do. I call him Pops, actually. Jules’ father. Perhaps you refer to him by another name? ‘Mr. Moneybags?’ ‘Walking Piggybank?’ Yeah, him. Right now, you’re not too high on his shit list. He’s a reasonable guy. He understands that horny college boys do bad things sometimes. He was willing to chalk the rest up to coincidence. If he finds out what you did today, though? Wow. I would not want to be you.

“Honestly, Jasper,” I continued, “you lost any chance of seeing a dime of that money months and months ago. Even if you were doing everything right to try to get Jules to forgive you, let alone like you, you would not be within a light year of those bank accounts. If assaulting his daughter was part of your master plan… I don’t even know what to say to that. You are a colossal fuckup. Let it go. Stop digging your own hole.”

He looked up at me with defiance in his eyes.

“Last warning,” I hissed, releasing his wrist. He stayed on the ground.


“What did you say to him?” asked Jules on the ride home. I worried that the whole truth might upset her, but I didn’t want any secrets between us.

“Jules, there’s something you need to know about Jasper,” I said.

“What?” she asked.

“He knows who your father is,” I said. “I think he comes from somewhere near where you live. His interest in you isn’t really in you. He was chasing you because he knows your daddy’s rich. The night you argued, he was drunk, and his libido got the better of him. Otherwise, you would probably still be together.”

Jules cursed. “I never even suspected,” she said.

“It doesn’t matter now,” said Amanda. “We’re together, and you know we love you.”

Jules smiled at her. “Did you convince him to leave me alone?” she asked.

“I’m not so sure.” I said, “I told him that Pops knew all about him, and he had no chance with either of you, but I’m not sure we’ve heard the last of him.”

I sent them each the memory of our confrontation as we arrived home, continuing the conversation as we entered the house.

“He didn’t look convinced,” said Amanda. “He knows that he has no chance with Jules now, but he may decide he wants to get back at you.”

“Let him,” I said. “I think we should have a word with Jamie tomorrow and get her to tell him to back off Jules. If he wants to come after me then that will be his last mistake.”

We all got showered and changed and were outside the restaurant at the appointed time. Sue and George arrived only minutes later. We went in and were shown to our table.

It took a few moments for us to get settled. The waiter handed us menus and took our drink orders.

Sue sat directly opposite me, with George to her right. Mary sat to her left. Jules sat to my right, and Amanda, sitting to my left, completed the circle. While we waited for our drinks, Sue looked across at me.

“Caleb,” she said. “I’m sorry. I was stupid and I treated you really really badly. I became everything that I would tear any guy a new asshole for being. I spent the weekend ‘apologizing’ to George.”

George blushed.

“Whatever you did to me, worked,” she said. “The sex was phenomenal – and I know what that means. I know it, thanks to you. Even now I don’t think George believes it, but I know it. If I wasn’t madly in love with him, and he with me, the sex wouldn’t be anywhere near as good.

“That was the first reason I asked you to come out tonight,” she said, smiling shyly. “The second was to show you this.” She held out her left hand to display the ring wrapped around her fourth finger.

“You got engaged?” I asked, but then quickly added, “Congratulations!”

Each of the girls offered their congratulations too, insisting on examining the ring.

“Be honest,” I said to George. “You already had that. There’s no way, by the look of you, that you had time to leave the bedroom to go ring shopping.”

He grinned and held his hands up. “A gentleman never tells,” he said.

We had a good meal, and they took the bill. As we were getting ready to leave, Sue pulled me to one side.

“I really screwed up, didn’t I?” she said. “I hope I didn’t completely ruin our friendship.”

“We’re still friends,” I said, and she smiled sadly.

“But not best friends?” she asked.

I looked at her, seeing her eyes moisten as she saw the answer on my face. She hugged me softly. “I’m sorry, Caleb, for everything.”

“Be happy,” I said to her, “and look after him.”

When we got home, Josh and Louise were nowhere to be seen. I went and knocked on their door, but there was no answer. I guessed that either they didn’t want to speak to us, or they were out. I could have scanned the room to see if they were in there but decided to give them their privacy.

The next morning, I got a notification by email that I had an appointment to see the dean at nine.

I frowned. I guessed immediately what it was about, but I was surprised that Jasper had had the balls to go through with it. I got the girls to send me the videos that they had taken with their phones, and I went to his office.

When I arrived, I was surprised to find that not only was Jasper in the office, but quite the crowd. There was an older man standing behind him whom I guessed was his father. Two police officers were also in attendance. Jasper wore a smug look and a sling. I knew that he didn’t have an injury. Wrist locks hurt, but they rarely did damage, and I hadn’t put it on that hard.

Alongside the dean, once again, was my head of year, and Jamie, the counselor. She looked upset.

I tried to hold a poker face, but I’m not sure I succeeded. Not only did I have the videos ready to go, plus a very friendly university employee on my side, but the two police officers standing near Jasper’s father were none other than Debs and her partner, Steve.

“Caleb Stott,” the dean intoned again, as he had the day they had made the false allegations of cheating. “Once more you are in my office.” He opened his mouth to continue, but I interrupted.

“To face another bogus charge, it seems,” I said. “If this continues, I will be filing suit for harassment against you, personally, and your university.”

He blustered for a second. “We have been made aware of a very serious matter,” he said, trying to regain his equilibrium. “Apparently, you assaulted another student yesterday, causing injury. We are bound to investigate.”

“And exactly what investigation did you do?” I asked. “Did you speak to me, or any other witnesses, or examine the CCTV, before you called me here to face charges? And exactly why are two officers waiting for me?”

“They’re here to arrest you,” said Jasper, grinning, “for the assault.”

I nodded. Then turned to the officers. “Hi Debs, Steve.”

“Hi Caleb,” they said. “Let’s hear it.”

“But…” began the Dean, but a look from Debs shut him up.

“Jasper there was harassing my girlfriend,” I said.

“Which one?” asked Debs. “One of the twins, or the dark-haired girl?”

“Jules,” I said, “the one with black hair. I left her to deal with it until he grabbed her arm and wouldn’t let go. I went over, and he let her go, but then tried to sucker punch me. He had three shots at me before I reacted. I grabbed his arm, put him in a wrist lock, and put him on the floor. We had words, and that was it. Unless he has brittle bone disease or some such, there’s no way what I did caused any injury.”

I looked at the counsellor. “It’s no coincidence he got into it with Jules almost immediately before her prior incident,” I said. “He’s a menace. Clearly, I’m regretting having given him another chance to leave all of us alone, rather than having gone to the police directly myself.”

“That’s not true,” Jasper said. “Jules and I were talking, and Rambo here took exception to it. He attacked me. I guess he must be the jealous type.”

“Do you have any witnesses?” I asked.

“No,” he said. “The only ones that saw other than us were your girlfriends, and they are bound to take your side.”

I shrugged and handed my phone to Debs. The video was queued up. She watched, then handed the phone to Steve, who played it again.

Steve handed the phone back to me, then walked over to Jasper. “Stand up, please.”

Jasper stood, looking puzzled.

“Turn around and put your hands behind your back,” Steve said. “You’re under arrest for assault. Hand, I guess, if you really want to keep up with the bullshit.”

“What?” asked the older man. “But it was him that assaulted my son!” He pointed at me.

“Not what I saw,” said Steve. “Mr. Stott gave him two free shots before he defended himself, and that defence was a simple takedown. He would have been quite within his rights to strike back.”

“Mr. Green,” said the dean, and Jasper turned to look at him.

“As of now, you are suspended,” the dean said. “I will ask our counsellor to speak to Miss Steadman, and if she verifies Mr. Stott’s claim that you have been harassing her, then I will be moving to have you expelled.”

Jasper turned hate-filled eyes on me. “This isn’t over,” he said.

“Threats?” I asked. “In full view of two police officers?”

“Send me that video, would you?” said Debs. “You still have my number?”

I smiled. “I do, but I thought you lost mine. You never called.”

“She got cold feet,” Steve said with a grin.

Debs made a face at him. “Just send me the video,” she said, blushing.

They left the office, followed by Jasper’s father.

I turned to the dean. “Was there anything else?” I asked.

He shook his head. I turned to leave.

“Caleb,” Jamie called as I reached the door. “Can you and Jules come to my office at lunchtime please?”

I nodded.

As I walked to belatedly join my first class, I sent the memory to the girls of what had transpired.

Lunchtime found Jules and me in the waiting room for the counselor’s office. Jamie opened her office door and poked her head out.

“Would you mind if I had a few minutes with Jules alone?” she asked. I shrugged.

“No,” said Jules. “You want to speak to me, then Caleb comes too.”

“But…” began Jamie.

“No,” said Jules again. Jamie sighed, opening her door and inviting us both in.

We sat in the session chairs rather than those by her desk. Jamie looked at Jules.

“How are you doing?” she asked.

“Absolutely fantastic,” Jules said, “other than being hassled by some schoolboy who won’t take no for an answer.”

“Tell me about Jasper,” said Jamie.

“Jasper and I were a thing,” Jules said, “but then he got angry when I wouldn’t do anything sexual with him. I’m asexual. I told him that, but he wouldn’t listen. He said some really hurtful things, and we broke up. I guess that was the last straw. It had happened so many times before that I decided I’d had enough.

“But we’re not here about that. Anyway, we were broken up. Caleb, the girls and I got together.”

“The girls?” asked Jamie.

“Amanda and Mary,” said Jules.

“You’re all together?” queried Jamie, a little confused.

“Yes,” said Jules. “We all love each other, and we are together. Jasper decided that he had changed his mind about being broken up, though. I recently found out that he comes from near where my parents live, and he knows about my daddy. I suspect that is the reason he changed his mind.”

“Why would knowing your father change his mind?” asked the counselor, clearly not understanding.

“Daddy has quite a lot of money,” said Jules.

Jamie’s face cleared, but then she looked grim. “Go on,” she said.

“After he saw me kissing Caleb in the cafeteria,” Jules began.

“I thought you said you were asexual,” the counselor interrupted.

Jules nodded. She didn’t want to get into the nuances, and I didn’t blame her. “I knew Jasper was watching. I wanted him to get the message, but he would not leave me alone. He kept asking me to go out with him again, promising me all kinds of things. Then there were the snide comments and digs in class. He was either chasing me or ridiculing me. I don’t think he could make up his mind. Yesterday, he followed me out to the parking lot. I wouldn’t even talk to him, and then he grabbed my arm. I had asked Caleb to let me deal with it, but when it got physical, Caleb intervened to protect me.”

Jamie made some notes on her pad.

“Thank you, Jules,” she said. “Other than that, you say you are doing fantastic. Would you like to expand on that?”

“I’m living with three people,” said Jules, “each of whom knows who I am, and loves me for it. I wake up in the morning in the arms of someone who loves me and go to sleep at night surrounded by love. How could I not be?”

“Have you told your parents about your living situation?” Jamie asked.

“We went and stayed with them in the holidays,” said Jules. “They know how happy I am, and that makes them happy. Both my parents think the world of Caleb and the girls. Daddy even bought Caleb the house we’re in so we could all live together.”

I looked sharply at her then; I had a feeling she hadn’t misspoken about who, legally, owned the house. Jules grimaced. I don’t think she’d meant to let that nugget slip.

“I see,” said Jamie. “Well, as long as you are happy, and it seems you are. My offer still stands though: my door is always open. I just wish that you had come to me about Mr. Green. Perhaps I could have done something before it went too far.”

“Mary did suggest that,” said Jules, “but I thought I could handle him. I guess I was wrong. He couldn’t upset me, not with my family behind me.” She grabbed my hand when she said that. “I never thought he would get violent.”

“Well,” said Jamie, “I’ll be making a report to the dean, to the effect that not only was Mr. Green harassing you, but that his previous actions were instrumental in the decision that led you to the roof of the science building. It seems that it is fortunate that Mr. Stott here was around to help.”

“Can I ask a question?” I asked.

Jamie nodded.

“Why has the dean got such a hard-on for me?” I asked. “He seems determined to find something to blame me for.”

“Up until the exams,” she said, “I doubt he even knew you existed. But you kind of made a fool of him. For some people, that’s more than enough. He is also having some family troubles, and I think you just provided a convenient outlet for him to vent. You will notice he was equally quick to suspend Mr. Green – and, undoubtedly, he will be expelled.”

“Family trouble?” I asked.

“I shouldn’t really talk about it,” she said, but the thoughts all came tumbling out of her mind. His daughter, Rachel, had taken up with a guy called Steve Jenkins, and had gone missing. The guy was still around and said she had taken off on her own. The dean was worried sick. It had been almost two months since she had disappeared, and because texts had been sent to her parents from her phone, the police weren’t interested. His daughter was twenty two years old, and, as far as they were concerned, old enough to make her own choices.

I didn’t get much more about this Steve Jenkins character other than the fact he hung out around a coffee shop that students and young people liked to use.

I determined to at least take a look at the guy and make sure he wasn’t a predator, powered or otherwise. If he wasn’t, then I had no reason to do anything more. As the police had said, Rachel was a grown woman and capable of making her own choices. If he was, then I’d speak to Dianna and maybe look into it further.

“How are you doing?” I asked, and she blushed.

“Things are going well,” she said. Her eyes flicked to Jules.

“Good,” I said. “Are we okay to go?”

She nodded, and Jules and I left to try and grab some lunch before the cafeteria stations closed up.

I told the girls not to wait for me, and that I’d make my own way home. It was a ten-minute drive, but I could walk it in about thirty-five minutes, and the coffee shop was on the way. When I went in, however, I didn’t see anyone that might fit the rather vague impression that Jamie had of him. I grabbed a coffee and headed home.

That night, Josh and Louise emerged from their room. I acted as though nothing was out of the ordinary. I was about to start making dinner and asked if they wanted some. They accepted. They were quiet over dinner, and we didn’t push them, knowing that if they had something to say, they would get to it.

I was cleaning up in the kitchen when Josh came in, Louise trailing after him.

“Caleb,” he said. “Can we talk?”

“Sure,” I said. “What’s on your mind?”

“We wanted to apologize,” Louise said. “I guess we got a bit carried away with things. Josh and I just thought… well, I guess we didn’t really think. But we’ve both behaved really badly towards you. Even before the illusion, it’s been like we’re poking you with a stick, going, ‘Dance, monkey, dance.’”

“You’ve been helping me with my training,” I said gently. “I didn’t mind, honestly.”

“We lost sight of who we were,” she explained. “The fantasy took over. Dianna was right to limit us to once per month; in fact, we should probably do it less. We were both becoming addicted to the fantasy and forgetting that we had several very sexy people around us in real life. I don’t remember the last time we had sex that didn’t include your powers.”

“We decided,” cut in Josh, “that if you need to train your Compulsion, then we are willing to do non-sexual things. Cleaning, cooking, yard work, whatever you need. Louise will probably cum anyway, knowing her.” He smiled fondly at her. “And I also wondered if we could do something other than sex to train your illusion. I don’t mean exclusively. I would still like to do both occasionally, but just occasionally. Maybe Compulsion for sex once a month-ish, and illusion on very special occasions.”

“Of course, if you want something,” Louise said, glancing down at my groin suggestively.

“Then just ask,” finished Josh. You don’t need to Compel us. Either or both of us would and will do anything for you - for any of you. We love you, and we lost sight of that.”

“How do you guys fancy getting fit?” I asked with a grin.

They both looked at me uncertainly.


The next morning, I got up at my usual time, and did a couple of hours of martial arts training. I still did that three times per week. I had meant to find a local dojo, but it was still on my to-do list.

After that, the twins and a Compelled Josh and Louise joined me for a run. Since it was their first time, we took it easy on them, alternately running and walking for a few minutes at a time. That didn’t stop them from collapsing in a heap when we got back to the house and I released the compulsion.

“Go get showered,” I said to them, laughing. “You’ll be fine. Mark my words, before the month is out, you will be running that full distance, and it will make you feel energized rather than tired.”

They both moaned, but good-naturedly. I had told them that they could opt out at any time, but they’d stuck it out for the first day, at least. We would have to see what the next day would bring.

I walked to uni again, stopping at the coffee shop on my way. Still no one fitting Jamie’s impression of Jenkins. Since the shop was a ten-minute walk from the campus, I decided to come back at lunchtime and try again. I would keep coming back until I found him.

At lunchtime, the coffee shop was heaving with people. Since it wasn’t too far from campus, and provided not only coffee but snacks too, some students preferred to use it instead of the on-campus cafeteria. I ordered a sandwich and coffee and sat to wait.

I had told the girls what I was doing, but they were on a slightly tighter schedule around lunchtime than I was. I didn’t have any classes in the afternoon, and wasn’t due in the gym until two. I had decided I was going to step down as captain of the wrestling team, and was undecided whether I was going to remain on it at all. I was running out of actual time in the day, weeks, and months to do everything I needed and wanted to do.

The barista brought my lunch and drink, and I dug in. Normally you would wait at the counter, they would take your name and the barista who made your drink would call you back to collect, but since I had ordered food, they had asked me to take a seat first. I was sitting at a two-seat table, and it appeared that every other table was full.

That was when he came in.

I had been watching the door, and spotted him as soon as he entered. He was older, probably in his early- to mid-thirties, about my height with a medium build. He exuded charm. I could almost smell his aftershave when he walked through the door, and knew it would be some masculine scent designed to attract women. This had to be him.

I noticed a number of the girls from the college watch him as he crossed nonchalantly to wait in line. He made eye contact with one or two of them, his confident smile causing them to blush and look away. One didn’t. She held his eye for a moment, and even from here, I heard the thought in his head.


It was him that broke eye contact, as he had made it to the front of the queue and ordered. He waited with the others until the barista called his name

“Latte for Steve?”

He looked around for somewhere to sit. My table was the only one with a free seat and he made his way over.

“Do you mind?” he asked, indicating the empty chair. Since I had a mouthful of my sandwich at that time, I merely nodded at the chair, and he took that as permission to sit.

I had thought he would introduce himself, but he didn’t, sitting and looking around the room, once again making eye contact with the girl who had held his gaze earlier.

“She’ll do.” His thought was clear.

I still didn’t know if he was just a lothario on the prowl or a more dangerous predator, so I hadn’t given myself permission to dig into his head. In my mind, I needed ‘probable cause’ for that, and so far, I didn’t have it.

“Busy in here today,” I noted, directing the comment at him.

He glanced toward me, his aura informing me of his irritation that I had engaged him in conversation. He had a great poker face though, and he smiled.

“It’s always like this at lunchtime,” he said. “I should really time my visits better.”

“But this is such a rich hunting ground,” he added to himself.

So, what’s the difference between a horndog and a wolf? They both fancied themselves hunters. I wished I had a better answer. I still didn’t believe I had enough to justify violating somebody’s inner mind.

Then, finally, I noticed it. It was incredibly weak - so weak, in fact, that he probably didn’t even know that he had it himself. What had my father said? That his own power was equivalent to him being mildly charismatic? Well, Steve Jenkins had him beat. His charisma was off the charts. His Compulsion was so weak that I hadn’t even ‘smelled’ him, but even so, I knew that when he turned his ‘charm’ on someone without power, they would have no defense.

If anything, that made the situation even more frustrating. He was a predator but didn’t know it. I still had no reason to suspect that he’d done something genuinely criminal to the dean’s daughter or to any of his other conquests. He could have just been a sleazebag. The world was full of them.

I decided to cheat a little.

When the door next opened, we both glanced to it. Rachel Hamilton, the dean’s daughter, walked in.

I saw his eyes widen, and he paled as he did a double take. By the time he looked again, I had dropped the illusion, and the girl, who held no resemblance to Rachel at all, joined the queue.

“Are you okay?” I asked him.

“I’m fine,” he said, sighing with relief. He had thought he was in trouble then. All his thoughts regarding Rachel came tumbling out. Rachel had just been another notch on his bedpost; he was a lothario rather than something worse. They had had a brief but torrid affair, and he had managed to get Rachel pregnant.

He was, of course, already married. He had paid for Rachel to have a termination, and then distanced himself from her. He had taken her to a squat to stay with a ‘friend’ of his about thirty miles away, promising to come to get her when he divorced, and then had never gone back. Rachel had been too embarrassed by what had happened to go home. The reason he didn’t want her showing up in town was that she would likely cause him trouble in his marriage.

While I was disgusted with him as a person, I didn’t think he had broken any laws, and wondered what to do. I decided to ask for advice. I texted Dianna.

_Just found local sleaze, very weak Compulsion – don’t think he knows he has it. Using it to bed college girls. Pls Advise.

I got a terse response.

_Strip his power – no other action. I’ll drop by later for memory.

I was a little shocked I’d gotten permission to do that so easily, but I also wasn’t inclined to argue.

A tendril of thought and Mr. Charisma just became Mr. I finished up my coffee.

As I got up to leave, I saw him go over to the girl who had made eye contact with him earlier, and I smiled as he crashed and burned. The question then was what to do about Rachel. I considered just tipping the dean off as to her location, or maybe going to see her. The other alternative was to do nothing. My problem with that was that if she was living in a squat and had no money, then she might be in danger.

Ah, fuck, I thought to myself. My conscience wasn’t going to let me drop the matter.

There were still about fifteen minutes left of lunch, and I sent a thought to Amanda. “Can I borrow you and your car?” I asked her. I figured if I took a female with me, it might not look so suspect.

“I have a class this afternoon,” she returned, “but if you need, I’ll cut it. I can get the memory from Mary later.”

“I’ll meet you at the car in about ten minutes,” I sent. “I think it’s worth it.”

I sent a text to the wrestling coach.

_Sorry coach, won’t be there this afternoon, not feeling up to it.

_You’re the captain. Supposed to be setting an example.

_Can’t help it sorry.

_You have been distracted recently if you don’t get your head back in the game, I’m going to have to start looking for a new captain.

I think that was meant as what you might call a motivational threat. I don’t think he expected my response.

_Probably best you do that. I have a lot on at the moment. I can’t give it the attention it deserves.

_What? Can we at least talk about it before you make any decisions?

_I have some free time tomorrow- after lunch?

_Sure – see you then. Feel better.


I filled Amanda in on the way. I told her all about Steve Jenkins and what I had learned.

“So what’s the plan?” she asked. “You can’t just walk up to her and say, ‘Hi Rachel, you don’t know me, but I go to the uni where your father is dean. What’s going on?’”

“I just want to check if she’s okay,” I said. “I might not even speak to her. Once I find her, and know she is fine, I might just leave it at that. Maybe I’ll drop a note to her father to let him know where she is.”

“But if she doesn’t want him to know,” she said, “what right do we have to interfere?”

I thought about that. She was right, of course. I guessed that once I knew Rachel was okay, I’d probably just leave her alone and let her sort her own life out - as long as she was okay.

We arrived at the squat, and I could hear yelling coming from inside. Someone was arguing. It sounded like a man and a woman.

“I can’t,” the woman’s voice said. “I’m still bleeding following the surgery.”

“Your mouth isn’t bleeding is it?” he yelled back. “You have been freeloading off us for too long. Either you put up some cash, pay up in some other way, or get the fuck out.”

“You know I don’t have any money,” she said, starting to cry. “Steve gave you money for me.”

“That was last month,” he yelled. “You think that would last forever? Face it: he dumped you on us. Paid us just enough to get you out of his hair, and now he’s screwing some other college hottie. You were stupid enough to get pregnant; you deserve everything that’s coming to you.

“Either put up, put out, or fuck off. The choice is yours.”

“Give me a few more days?” she begged. “I’ll find some cash.”

“What you going to do?” he scoffed. “Get a job? Yeah right. I’m sick of your bleating. Just get the fuck out. You’d probably give a shit blowjob anyway.”

The door slammed open, and a woman - Rachel - was pushed roughly out.

“My things!” she said.

“What things?” he asked.

“My clothes and…” she began.

“Bitch you don’t own nothin’,” he said. “Just get the fuck away from here, before I really lose my temper.”

She stood for a second, shoulders slumped, and then turned and began to walk away. Tears were running down her face.

Amanda looked at me. “Now what?” she said. I was wondering that very thing.

Rachel had walked about one hundred yards down the street, and had slumped down on a low wall, weeping. She was dirty, and looked skinnier than the image her Jamie had of her. She looked hungry.

I decided that Amanda should be the one to make contact. I would hang back so as not to frighten her.

“Are you all right?” asked Amanda, approaching the girl. I was still sitting in the car, maybe fifty yards away. Amanda opened up a psychic line – memories transmitted nigh-instantly – so I could keep up. Our bond made it practically effortless, rather than merely easy. I could also feel Amanda already flexing her power. It made me slightly uneasy.

Rachel looked up, seeing the beautiful teen looking down at her.

“I’m fine,” said Rachel. “Just had a row with my boyfriend is all.” She didn’t want to get into it with a stranger, despite the fact that Amanda seemed to ooze warmth and compassion.

“That was your boyfriend that threw you out?” asked Amanda, and Rachel looked up sharply.

“You saw that?”

“Heard it,” she said apologetically. “He wasn’t your boyfriend though, was he?” Amanda flexed again.

Rachel looked into the tawny eyes of the girl in front of her. Suddenly, she had the urge to unburden herself, to tell this complete stranger everything. Somehow she knew she could trust her. She burst into a fresh wave of tears.

Amanda sat beside her and put her arms around the older girl, wrinkling her nose a little at the smell. Rachel was more than a little ripe. It didn’t surprise her, or me, that the squat might not have even basic amenities.

Slowly, a bit at a time, over the next twenty minutes or so, Amanda extracted the entire story from Rachel: how she had been wooed by Steve Jenkins; how he had gotten her pregnant, and, after paying for her abortion, had taken her and dumped her here, swearing that it was only temporary until he started divorce proceedings; how that he had taken her phone and then disappeared.

She had not seen him for nearly two months. The man in the squat had started pressuring her for sex almost immediately. She had held him off, telling him that she was still sore and bleeding following the termination, but in reality that had ended nearly two weeks ago. Each day he got more and more insistent, and that brought us up to what we’d just heard not half an hour prior.

She said she had nowhere to go - no money, no food. She was so ashamed that she couldn’t go back to her family. They would be so disappointed in her. Her father was the dean of the university. He was a strict man, but she knew he loved her. She just couldn’t stand to see the look of disappointment in his eyes when he found out what she had done.

“How about you come back with us?” offered Amanda. “Get yourself cleaned up and something to eat. Then we can see where to go from there?”

“Us?” asked Rachel, looking around.

“My boyfriend is in the car just there,” she said. “He didn’t want to scare you, but we were both worried for you, so he stayed in the car.”

Rachel looked from Amanda to where she could see me sitting in the car. I read suspicion and fear in her aura, but then that all smoothed out into trust. I knew that Amanda had used her power, and she felt my slight disapproval. Amanda looked at me, a challenge in her eyes. I smiled ruefully.

I got out of the car and opened the back door for Rachel to enter. Amanda got in beside her, and I took the driver’s seat. I headed for home.

When she realized the direction we were heading, Rachel stiffened. “Where are we going?” she asked.

“We have a house about ten minutes from the university,” said Amanda. “We are both students there - and before you ask, no, your father didn’t ask us to come and get you. I didn’t even know the dean had a daughter until today.”

I felt Amanda’s power flare again, and feelings of relaxation and trust washed over Rachel. Even given the situation, I was still uncomfortable with the use of power, but Rachel needed help, and we were providing it. Other than getting her fed and cleaned up, we weren’t going to take any decisions from her. I consoled myself with that thought, but the phrase ‘slippery slope’ kept repeating itself in my mind.

We had the house to ourselves; the others were still at uni. Amanda took Rachel into the main bathroom and got her set up in the bath. She brought her clothes out, and we threw them in the washer.

“Find out what she likes to eat,” I said, and Amanda went back in, emerging a few minutes later with an answer.

“Anything,” she said. “The poor girl is starved. I don’t think she has had a proper meal for a few weeks. Apparently, the money Steve left disappeared in a hurry, and she has been living off the scraps that the others left since then.”

Rachel emerged from the bathroom, wrapped in Amanda’s robe. I was in the kitchen, just putting her food on the plate and she approached me. She looked defeated. Tears ran down her cheeks, but as she approached she allowed her robe to fall open. She was naked beneath. She was skinny, with her ribs visible. She had small breasts, maybe a B cup, but they seemed to sag a little, as she had lost weight quickly.

“I’ll do it,” she said. “Whatever you want. But please don’t hurt me.”

I walked up to her and gently closed her robe, tying the belt. I pulled her into my arms and held her as she sobbed.

“You don’t have to do anything,” I said quietly. “We’re going to help you, and nobody is going to hurt you. I promise.”

“I thought…” she began.

“Rachel,” I said, “you are safe here. Nobody is going to make you do anything you don’t want to. Why don’t you come and eat, and after we can talk about what you are going to do next?”

By the time she had inhaled her food, the others had arrived back from university. Mary and Jules had caught a lift with Josh and Louise. Rachel was startled as they all entered the house.

“I guess it’s time for introductions,” I said, realising that Rachel didn’t even know my name.

“I’m Caleb, and this is my girlfriend, Amanda.”

Amanda smiled at her and got a weak smile in return.

“I’m Mary,” said Mary. “As you can probably guess, I’m Amanda’s twin sister, and Caleb’s girlfriend too.”

Rachel looked at Amanda, then Mary, and then at me.

“Hi,” said Jules. “I’m Jules.” She hesitated a moment, obviously wondering what Rachel’s tipping point might be. “I’m Caleb, Amanda and Mary’s girlfriend.”

“I’m Louise,” said Lou, “and currently, you and I, unless I missed something, are the only two girls here who are not Caleb’s girlfriends.” She grinned and then added, “We do fuck occasionally, though.”

I shook my head.

“Josh,” said Josh. “I’m Louise’s boyfriend.”

Rachel looked at Josh and Louise, and then again at me.

Josh sighed. “Yeah, we kind of all pile in together sometimes.”

Jules went over to her and took her hand.

“You must feel like you fell into some kind of bacchanalian house of debauchery and sin,” she said, and then she shrugged. “And in some respects, you’re probably right. But nobody here is ever forced to do anything they don’t want to. I promise you; nobody will touch you or make you do anything you don’t want them to.”

“Rachel is going to be staying with us for a while, while she gets herself straight,” I said.

“Staying?” asked Rachel. “But I don’t…”

“The room is standing empty,” I said. “I eat enough for six, so another mouth isn’t going to break the bank. You are welcome to stay until you decide what you want to do. If you want to talk about anything, then pick anyone, and they will be more than happy to talk. I’d avoid Josh, though. His eyes glaze over and he starts to drool if anyone tries to have a serious conversation with him.”

“Hey!” Josh protested good-naturedly. “That was one time.”

Even Rachel laughed at that.

There was a knock on the door, and Josh, who was closest, let Dianna in.

“This is Dianna,” I said. “She is the twins’ grandmother.”

Rachels eyes widened. “Grandmother?” she asked. “But…”

Dianna smiled. “I really do enjoy that.”

“Dianna, this is Rachel,” I said, sending her the memory of the full afternoon.

She frowned a little and indicated we should go out onto the deck to talk. I followed her out.

“So,” she said, “Now that you have her here, what are you going to do with her?”

“Do with her?” I asked, not understanding the question.

“Are you going to take her back to her family, add her to your harem, or just use her for occasional relief?” She seemed to be getting a little annoyed.

“Who pissed in your Cheerios?” I asked. “I don’t intend to ‘do’ anything with her, except give her a safe place to stay until she decides what she wants to do next.”

“So, you didn’t bring her back here to…”

“You already saw the memory,” I said wearily. “You know why I brought her back here.”

“And her father?”

“That’s between them,” I said. “If she asks my opinion, I’ll give it. But unless she does, then we’re not going to push her into anything. Maybe you can put your counsellor’s hat on and have a chat with her. It sounds like she has been through a lot.”

“If she wants, I’ll talk to her,” she said. “I’m not going to interpose myself without her wanting to speak to someone. It might be more beneficial for you to get her to speak to your university counsellor, though. She could act as a go-between for Rachel and her father.”

That, I thought, was a good idea.

“Your actions with Mr. Jenkins were appropriate,” she said. “Thank you for checking in before you did anything. Each time you do something like that, it adds ammunition to our cause. You are proving time and time again that you have good judgment, and yet don’t act without consulting whom they would consider to be your superiors. It all helps.”

“Who are ‘they?’” I asked.

“It’s a long story,” she said. “Sometime, I’ll tell it. But ‘they’ are the power - the decision-makers. They’re the ones who’ll ultimately decide whether any children you bear will have to wear amulets.”

“I won’t be having children,” I said, “unless I get a legally binding signed agreement from Maggie to say that won’t be the case.”

“Accidents happen,” she said. That caused me to pause. I hadn’t considered that. Given the amount of sex I had, low percentages weren’t quite the balm they were for most couples. I also considered the possibility of somebody ‘forgetting,’ rather than forgetting, to take their contraceptives.

“Neither of the girls would do that,” she said, reading my aura as if reading my mind. But the seed had been sown. I needed to figure out a way to make sure.

I felt spikes of both curiosity and concern through the bond. The three of them had obviously felt my jolt of apprehension. They knew I was anxious, but didn’t know why.

Dianna shook her head. “Yet again I’ve made you doubt them. I’m sorry. I think I’d better go before I do any more damage.” She went into the house, and I followed. She briefly embraced the girls in turn, and I saw her give Mary the memory of our discussion. Mary sighed and looked over at me, judging my mood.

She decided to speak to me about it right away. Taking my hand, she led me back out onto the deck, and then turned to face me.

“You know we would never do that to you,” she said, “right?”

“I know,” I said, “but they would. Who’s to say they don’t tamper with your pills upstream somewhere? You think you are taking contraceptives and they are feeding you fertility pills instead.”

She looked stunned at that. “You think they would?” I noticed that there was no doubt in her mind that they could.

“I would put nothing past them,” I said. “I need to find a way to be certain. I’m hoping that my healing training will give me some clues.”

When we went back into the house, Rachel was sitting talking to Jules. She had gotten dressed in something. I presumed one of the girls had loaned her some clothes. I decided that at least one of us would take her out for some emergency shopping after dinner.

“Rachel?” I asked. “Are you ready to eat again?” It was probably only about an hour since she’d last eaten, but she had been very hungry. She smiled sheepishly, but nodded. I cooked dinner, and we ate.

After dinner, we went to the local hypermarket and told her to shop for what she needed. She went off with a cart, and when she met back up with us, there were less than half a dozen items in it. I looked at Amanda, and she took her in hand. After a while, they returned with the cart piled high.

It wasn’t designer stuff, but she now had her own underwear, a few pairs of jeans and T-shirts, PJs, a coat, shoes, and toiletries. There was even a smart blouse and suit set, presumably if she was going to look for work, and then a whole host of other feminine products that I didn’t want to get too involved in. Amanda had even picked her up a prepaid cell. Rachel looked on wide-eyed when the total – nearly eight hundred dollars - came up. I grinned inwardly, wondering if I could write the expenses off on my tax statement as a charitable donation. I handed over my card, typed in my pin, and we went home.

Amanda put Rachel in the room next to Jules’s workshop. It didn’t have an ensuite, but it was the closest of the empty rooms to the main bathroom.

When we got back, I made myself a snack, and Rachel had something too. Then we all sat in the living room chatting. I knew Amanda had an agenda when she’d bought Rachel that phone, but I was staying out of it.

“You should call your dad,” Amanda said to Rachel, “if only to let him know you are alive and safe. I’ll bet he’s worried sick about you.”

“I wouldn’t know what to say,” said Rachel. “I know he would ask so many questions.”

“How about this?” I offered. “Why not call Jamie? You could ask her to talk to your dad, tell him you’re safe and whole, and that maybe you will be in touch.”

“I don’t know her number,” said Rachel.

“I have her card,” said Jules, and went to her room to retrieve it.

“You can tell her where you are if you want,” I said, “but if you do, I’d guess your dad would be here in a heartbeat.”

Rachel picked up her phone, but Jules said, “Wait, can I have your phone a sec?”

Rachel handed her the phone, and Jules spent a couple of minutes making some setting changes. She handed it back.

“Now it won’t send your number,” she said. “That way Jamie can’t call you back, or give it to your dad. It will be up to you then when and if you decide to make contact.”

Rachel smiled her thanks at Jules and made the call. She left it on speaker so we could all hear.

“Jamie Smythe speaking,” Jamie answered. Rachel knew Jamie, but not well.

“Jamie, it’s Rachel,” said Rachel. “Rachel Hamilton.”

“Rachel!” exclaimed Jamie. “Where are you? Are you all right? Have you spoken to your dad? He’s worried sick. Do you want me to come to get you? Where are you?”

“Jamie,” said Rachel, cutting off the tirade, “I just called to ask if you would let my dad know that I’m okay. I got in some trouble, but I’m with friends now and I’m safe and warm, and well-fed.” She added that last with a look at me.

“Trouble?” asked Jamie. “What kind of trouble?”

“The kind that stupid girls with no sense get into,” Rachel said bitterly. “It’s all sorted now, but I need some time before I am ready to speak to my father.”

“Where are you staying?” Jamie asked.

“I’m staying with friends,” Rachel said. “They say I can stay here as long as I need.”

“Your dad spoke to all your friends,” Jamie said. “They all said they hadn’t seen you. They were worried too.”

“These are new friends; I haven’t known them long.”

“And you’re sure they are okay with you staying there?”

“I’m sure. They even took me out and bought me a load of things. I lost all the stuff I took with me, including my phone.”

“And what do they want in return?” she asked, rightly suspicious. “People don’t do things like that without wanting something.”

“They are good people,” Rachel said. “I’m certain they are exactly what they appear to be.”

“How can I contact you?” asked Jamie. “For some reason, your number didn’t come up on my phone.”

“That was kind of deliberate,” Rachel replied. “I’ll call you. I’m not going to tell you when, because I don’t want you ambushing me with my dad, but I’ll call you at least every other day. Just tell Dad that I’m sorry. I’m okay, but I just need some time.”

“If you need to talk,” said Jaime, “I would be happy to spend some time with you.”

“I might take you up on that,” Rachel said. “I have to go. I’ll call you sometime in the next couple of days.”

“Can I talk to one of your friends?” asked Jamie. Rachel looked at me and I shook my head.

“I’ll call you,” said Rachel, and hung up the phone.

“She knows us all,” I explained. “Speaking to us would have your father here in an instant.”

I went to bed at my usual time, and when I woke up at four, I noticed that Jules was not with us.

I walked to Jules’ room, which was also empty. Rachel’s door was open, and I looked in to see if she was all right. She was asleep, Jules curled up protectively around her. I smiled.

Once again, a Compelled Josh and Louise joined us on our run, after which I made breakfast.

Rachel and Jules came to the table together.

“Morning,” I said. “Sleep well?”

Rachel blushed. “I was a little scared,” she admitted, “but then Jules came in, and after that, I slept like a baby.”

“She gives great cuddles,” I said, “doesn’t she?”

Jules came and demonstrated on me. “I missed you,” she said.

“And I you,” I replied. “I was a little worried when I woke and you weren’t there.”

“Sorry, it was a spur-of-the-moment thing,” she said.

I smiled at her.

Jules, Rachel, the twins, and I were eating breakfast when Lou came through for juice again. Predictably, she was naked.

Rachel watched her go to the fridge, get the juice and walk back. Louise gave her a wink as she left. Rachel blushed.

“Ignore her,” I said. “She does it for attention.”

“Any thoughts on what you might do today?” I asked as we got ready to leave for uni.

“I could clean up for you?” she said.

“You don’t need to do anything,” I said. “Besides, the cleaner comes today. Her name is Denise, and she usually gets here sometime around lunchtime. You just need to chill, maybe watch some TV. There’s plenty of food in the fridge if you are hungry.”

I gave her my phone number in case she needed anything.

The morning went as mornings do, and I got to sit through a whole class. In-class participation had become the one highlight, and I particularly enjoyed it when my ethics lectures gave way to a back-and-forth between several students and the professor.

After lunch, I went to see the wrestling coach. It wasn’t a conversation I’d been looking forward to.

“Hey coach,” I said.

“How are you feeling?” he asked.

“I’m good. Listen I…”

“Caleb,” he interrupted. “Before you say what I think you are going to say, hear me out. I can’t lose you from the team. It would be bad enough to lose you as captain, but you are the best we have had for a long time. We have a contest coming up with NYU in a month, and if we lose you, then we may as well not even bother showing up.”

“I just have so much on my plate at the moment,” I said. “Something has to give.”

“Such as?” he asked.

I paused for a moment, scanning down a list of things I couldn’t tell him.

“You know I want to get into law enforcement,” I said.

“Exactly!” he said. “Wrestling shows you can handle yourself and…”

“I’ve been practicing martial arts,” I said. “I’m up at four every morning. Then I run. Then I come to uni. I started a hypnotherapy business. I need the cash, and that is taking up a lot of my time, and also, I’m consulting with the FBI. I have three girls at home that I don’t get to spend enough time with, and it’s just too much.”

“How about this?” he offered. “Drop the captaincy, then you only really need be here maybe once every other week. Most of the trainings are just PT, after all. If you are training martial arts and running every morning, you don’t need them. Just until the NYU match. Please?”

I sighed. “Fine,” I said. “But after NYU, I’m going to have to quit.”

He grinned. I saw the thought clearly in his mind that there was another tournament six weeks after NYU, and that he was certain he could string me along for that one too. He knew that nothing was as addictive as winning. He would attack me when I won my bout against NYU and get me to agree to the next one. Eventually I would get wise to it, but he guessed he could get another three, maybe four tournaments out of me before I did.

I had a couple of people to see regarding their weight loss and so I made my way to their appointments. Afterwards, as was waiting in the parking lot for the girls, five teens approached me. In the middle was Jasper Green.

I pulled out my phone and started the video app, balancing it on the hood of the car. I walked forward to meet them.

“Not so cocky now, are you?” asked Jasper from the middle of the pack.

“Boys,” I said, “whatever it is you have in mind to do, you don’t want to do it. Jasper already got himself arrested and expelled. Do you want to go the same way?”

“They don’t even study here,” said Jasper.

“Then they,” I said, “and you, are trespassing. You need to leave the grounds.”

I circled around a little so the camera on my phone would have a good view of what went on. With five on one, I wasn’t going to take any chances. I could have easily immobilised them all, but that would have given away my powers. I was certain I could deal with Jasper’s cut-rate crew without using them.

“We’re going to make you wish you never met that little freak,” said one of the other boys.

“I already do,” I said, “but I’m surprised Jasper lets you call him that.” I gave a half smile, already in my ‘ready’ position.

I knew that Jasper wouldn’t be the first to attack. I had already shown him that he was no match for me. He would wait until I was engaged with one, two, or even more of the other boys, and then try to blindside me. His problem, although he didn’t know it, was that I would know he was there and what he was doing, even if my back was to him.

“I didn’t mean…” retorted the one who had spoken, but he realised he was just making the situation worse.

“Fucking smart mouth,” said the biggest of the group. “Let’s see how smart it is when it’s got no fucking teeth.”

I faked a yawn. “Are you guys for real?” I asked. “This isn’t the school playground. You came here for a reason. Either get to it or go away. You’re boring…”

Two of them rushed me as I was still speaking. I had expected it. The first caught a punch to his throat. The second had time to take a swing, which I blocked before planting my knee in his groin. That always was my favourite shot. It was almost a guaranteed putdown if you got it right, and I’d well and truly committed it to muscle memory.

While I’d been dealing with that pair, the biggest had circled. He came at me from the rear. He walked into my back kick, which knocked the wind out of him, before a spinning kick to the head put him down and out. That left Jasper and one other. Jasper had pulled a knife, and his buddy had an iron bar which he had had secreted somewhere. The other three were still on the floor.

Jasper and his friend decided to go wide and attack from opposite sides. Tactically, it was a good decision, although it posed no real challenge. As they came in, I moved quickly for Jasper, making the conscious decision to break the arm holding the knife. He screamed. I then spun us both around and he caught the iron bar on his shoulder. His friend had swung wildly, fully committing, and didn’t have time to ease up or redirect. I think it broke Jasper’s collar bone. I pushed Jasper out of the way, and before the bar wielder could regroup, I stepped in and drove my forehead into his face, smashing his nose. He dropped the bar and dropped to his knees, stunned, blood streaming down his face.

I went back to the car, picked up my phone and dialled nine-one-one. I also texted Dianna.

_Just been attacked in uni car park. Five youths, two armed with knife and iron bar. No powers used.

_you okay?

I just sent back a smiley face emoji.

Less than two minutes later, I heard sirens, and a minute later a police cruiser screeched to a halt in the parking lot. Two officers got out. They looked at the five boys on the ground, and immediately called for EMTs.

“Turn around and put your hands on the car,” one officer said, his hand on the butt of his weapon.

I complied. I could hear another siren approaching.

“Put your hands behind your back.”

I did that too. Handcuffs were applied. I was patted down by the officer and then turned around to face him. I saw then, that the second siren I had heard was that of a black SUV that was just pulling into the parking lot. The officer who had cuffed me looked around to see what was going on.

“What are the feds doing here?” he asked his partner.

“I called them,” I said. “If you look in my back left pocket you’ll see my ID.”

He reached around me, pulled out my ID and opened it.

“Seriously?” he asked. “You’re that guy?”

“What guy?” I asked.

“Davis and Maine told us about you,” he said. “You helped them grab that pedo at the mall.”

“Yes,” I said. “That was me.”

“Turn around,” he said. “I’ll unhook you.”

I brought my hands to the front and handed him his handcuffs. He gave me a sour look.

“Officer,” said agent Garraway. “Why is – er, was - he in handcuffs?”

I gave him a smile. “I was just telling this officer that if he checks my phone there, he should see a recording of what went on.”

“Oh,” said Andrew. “Okay then.”

“Jeez,” said the officer as they watched the recording. “Debs said you were like The Mentalist, now you’re The Karate Kid?”

At that point the EMTs arrived and started to triage the boys.

I had been right. Jasper did have a broken collar bone, and the two bones in his lower arm were also broken. All the boys were arrested.

“Charge them with assault on a federal agent,” said agent Garraway, but I intervened.

“They didn’t know,” I said. “I didn’t even know I was, to be honest. I thought I was just a consultant. I never identified myself has having anything to do with the FBI.”

“As long as you have that ID,” he said, “you get the same protections we do. You should have identified yourself, though, so on this occasion it will just be plain assault, and assault with a deadly weapon.”

A couple more ambulances turned up. It seemed that they were only able to carry a maximum of two people per vehicle, and they all needed to go to hospital. Three more cruisers turned up also, since each ambulance had to have a police officer.

Debs and Steve got out of one of the cruisers.

“Caleb,” Debs called out, hustling over to me. “You okay?”

“Is he okay?” asked the officer who had cuffed me. He handed her my phone, and she and Steve watched the recording.

I saw Debs flush, and heard her thought: “That is so hot.”

An EMT came over to me. “You have blood on your face,” he said. “Can I look?”

“I don’t think it’s mine,” I said. “The guy with the busted nose.”

“Let me check anyway,” he said, using some damp gauze to clean it away. “Nope, you’re good.”

It was while he was cleaning my face that the girls arrived.

“CALEB!!!” yelled Amanda, rushing across the parking lot. “Are you all right?”

I pulled her into a hug. “I’m fine,” I said. “Just got a little blood on me is all. It’s not mine.”

“You didn’t...?” she asked. I understood. She wanted to know if I’d overexerted myself using my powers.

“Not at all,” I said, and sent her and the others the memory of the fight.

Jules was furious, and devastated. “Caleb, I’m so sorry,” she said, clinging to me next to Amanda.

“It’s not your fault,” I said. “You can’t be held responsible for every nut that gets fixated on you. You’re only responsible for this nut that is fixated on you.” I pulled her in close.

I gave a statement to the officer who was first on scene, and I sent him a copy of the recording. Then we were allowed to leave.

Josh, Louise and Rachel were sitting in the living room when we got home.

“I heard you had a scuffle,” said Josh. “You okay?”

“Fine,” I said. “All that martial arts training paid off.”

“What happened?” asked Louise. I thought it would be easier to show them the video, so I beamed the recording to the smart TV and we all watched it again.

“Did you break his arm deliberately?” asked Jules. I winced. I had, but I didn’t want her to know that. I had already decided, though, that I wouldn’t lie to her.

“Yes,” I admitted.

“Good,” she said. “He deserved it. And all of us just heard you say that you definitely didn’t do it on purpose.”

My phone pinged, and I read another email. I had another appointment with the dean, at eight thirty the following the morning.

I sighed. “I’m sorry, Rachel,” I said, “but your old man can be a real pain in the ass.”

She giggled. “You’re telling me?”

Once more, I cooked, and we ate. Rachel, even in such a short time, was starting to fill out again, and had a very attractive figure. After dinner, Jules sat on my lap.

“I need a favour,” she said.

“Anything,” I said. I could tell it had something to do with Rachel, as, although she was looking away, she was listening in intently. I trusted Jules not to ask for something I wouldn’t do.

“Can Rachel sleep with us tonight?” she asked. “Just to sleep. She doesn’t want to be alone, and I missed being with you guys. The other girls are fine with it, but I wasn’t sure if you would be.”

“Give her the autonomic nervous system warning,” I said, “and if she is okay with it, then it’s fine by me.”

Jules giggled, and went to deliver the news. After a few minutes I heard Rachel giggle too.

I went to bed at my usual time.

When I woke, Rachel was curled up against me. Jules was behind her. Mary was on my other side and Amanda spooned her.

I looked down at Rachel. She was pretty: a cute face framed by short brown hair. It was only after I had been watching her for a minute or so that I realised her eyes were open, and she was regarding me.

“Good morning,” I said.

“Hi,” she said. “What time is it?”

“Around four,” I said. “Did I wake you?”

“I guess,” she said. “I was dreaming, and I think I felt you looking at me.”

I didn’t ask what she had been dreaming about. I wasn’t sure if she had even noticed, but I did: I, as usual, had morning wood. She was holding onto it - granted, through my shorts, but her grip was firm.

“It’s time for me to get up,” I said. “You go back to sleep.”

“Okay,” she said, and closed her eyes.

“Rachel?” I said, and she opened them again. “You’re going to need to let go.”

She glanced down and saw what it was she was gripping. She pulled her hand away as if she had been scalded.

“I am so sorry,” she said.

“Hey,” I said, “we all have autonomic nervous systems.”

I slid out of bed and began my day.

I was making breakfast when Rachel came into the kitchen.

“I’m sorry about before,” she said, blushing. “I don’t know what I was dreaming about, but…”

“It’s no problem,” I said. “I sleep with three girls every night. If any of us got upset if a hand, or any other body part, got into a spot it probably shouldn’t, then we’d spend all our time arguing. Just as you took the chance of getting my morning wood poking you, I took the chance of you grabbing onto something. It’s all good.”

“It’s not that I don’t…” she began.

“Rachel,” I interrupted gently, “I told you when we brought you here: nobody would ask you to do anything you didn’t want to do. You are safe here.”

“But what if I did?” she asked.

“Then we could discuss that,” I said, “after you have spoken to either Dianna or Jamie.”

“Why after?” she pressed.

“Because you have been through a lot,” I said, “and sometimes, when that happens, your emotions and feelings get all mixed up. I’m not taking advantage of a confused young woman. Also, you know that Jules, Amanda, Mary, and I are together, and there is another girl in the mix also. We’re not looking to add to our family. I’m not trying to be cruel; I’m just letting you know. When you have your head straight, if you still want to, we can play together, but it is very unlikely to lead to anything else.”

“I know,” she said. “Amanda told me. But it’s been so long, and I just thought…”

“After you speak to someone,” I said. “You’re vulnerable, and beautiful, and sexy, and I would in a heartbeat, but I can’t until I know you are all right.”

“Will you do me a favour?” she asked. “Will you ask Jamie if she can come over and speak to me tonight after she finishes? If that’s okay, I mean.”

“Of course it is.”

I went to the dean’s office as soon as I arrived. It was becoming a routine, and I did not care for it. Once again, my head of year and Jamie were there. There were no police, so I marked that as an improvement.

“Mr. Stott.” The dean sounded a lot less sonorous.

“Dean,” I responded.

“I heard about what happened yesterday evening,” he said. I was waiting for the censure, but he actually managed to surprise me. “And I must apologise on behalf of the university. Campus security should have stopped those boys before they even got close, and the only reason you weren’t seriously hurt was your own capabilities. One of my students got attacked on my campus on my watch, and I’m sorry.”

For a moment, I was at a loss for words. “It’s a big campus,” I said. “They can’t be everywhere. Since Jasper knew the place, he would have known how to avoid them. It wasn’t your fault, nor campus security. And if there was ever any question, I had no intention of taking any kind of action against the university regarding it.”

“Thank you,” he said, sounding a little surprised. “I’ll admit that was a concern. After what you said yesterday, I was sure that you would.”

“I was feeling a little ‘victimised’ yesterday,” I said. “After the ‘misunderstanding’ around the exams I thought there was something personal going on. When I feel under attack, I come out swinging. I apologise for that.”

He chuckled. “You certainly did that. We have the CCTV of you in the parking lot. I have a feeling some of the security crew watched it more than once. Anyway, I just wanted to apologise, and hopefully clear the air between us?”

“That would be nice,” I said. “Counsellor, can I have a word later today please?”

Jamie looked startled. “I’m all booked up today. Can it wait until tomorrow?”

“Not really,” I said. “Can I take five minutes of your time at the end of the day? I promise what I have to say will be quick.”

“Very well,” she said. “My office at four-fifteen then.”

I spent the day in lectures, then lunch and then more lectures.

When it came to the ethics lecture the professor had somewhat of a surprise for me. As I entered the room, he called me to his desk.

“I would like to discuss with the class, the ethics of what happened yesterday,” he said quietly, “The ethical point I will be discussing will be your option of a pre-emptive strike. Would you be okay with that?”

I nodded. He thanked me and sent me back to my desk.

Obviously, my adventures the previous day had garnered some attention, and the lecturer had a copy of the CCTV, which he showed to the class.

“At what point,” the lecturer asked the class, “would Mr. Stott have been justified in administering a pre-emptive strike?” We argued it back and forth for most of the lesson.

“There is one other question that I would like you to go away and consider,” he said. He showed the place where I had broken Jasper’s arm. “That could be considered excessive force, especially if breaking the arm was done deliberately. I would like you all to consider that and write me your response for next time.”

He had blindsided me with that one, and I wondered what his reaction would be if I wrote in my response that I had indeed decided to deliberately break Jasper’s arm. I knew I wasn’t going to confess to it in writing, but I started considering how I might tease out a defense regardless.

I arrived at Jamie’s office exactly at four fifteen. She was waiting for me.

“Okay Caleb,” she said. “What was it that couldn’t wait until during office hours tomorrow?”

“I was asked to ask if you could spare an hour to come and speak to someone at my house,” I replied.

“It would be highly inappropriate for me to visit a student’s offsite home,” she said. “Who asked you?”

“Rachel Hamilton,” I said.

Her eyes widened for a moment, and then “Of fucking course” spilled out of her mind.
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