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Caleb 11, Opening the back door and leaving.

I woke up the next morning, once more alone with just one of my girls - Amanda this time. She was curled up against me, wide awake, her beautiful tawny eyes looking up at me.

“Good morning beautiful,” I said to her, and she smiled.

“Good morning to you too,” she replied, her hand stroking my chest.

“Where is everyone?” I asked. I couldn’t hear anyone else in the house, and my bond was telling me that Jules and Mary were some distance away.

“They went out,” she said simply.

“Oh?,” I asked, resisting the temptation to peek into her mind. The feelings coming across the bond were more than enough to let me know what the little minx had planned.

“We decided that Louise was right,” she said. “We love sharing with you. With Louise and Josh, and with each other. We will love sharing you with Debs when she plucks up the courage to call you. But once in a while, just occasionally, each of us would like some time with you alone.

“Is that selfish?” she asked with a naughty grin.

“Not at all,” I replied.

“Are you hungry?” she asked.

I shook my head. “Not for food.”

Her naughty grin turned lascivious. She climbed off the bed and held her hand out to me. “Time for a shower.”

We went into the bathroom, and I was contemplating asking her to give me a minute. I had been asleep for probably eight hours, and my bladder was complaining. Amanda surprised me, however, walking me over to the toilet and pulling my cock out from my shorts. Pointing it at the pot, she looked me in the eye.

“Relax, let it go.”

Unfortunately, her manipulation of my man meat gave it other ideas, and it was now pointing in entirely the wrong direction. Even if I had been able to relax enough, I would have probably hit myself in the eye.

She giggled.

“That’s not going to work,” I said.

“Trust me,” she said, maintaining her hold. She leaned in to kiss me, and I felt her power gently wash over me. There was love, as always, but a feeling of relaxation and warmth, trust, and safety. Her kiss almost felt like one of Jules’. There was love and trust, but no lust. It quieted my ardor.

I heard the sound of my stream hitting the water and was amazed to find that I had not only relaxed enough to pee, but that my erection had subsided enough for her to point it accurately at the bowl. The sense of relief was pleasurable, and when I was done, she shook it off, and began squeezing, milking the last drips out. That brought my erection back full force.

She flushed the toilet and led me, by the cock, into the shower.

Once again, I got my hair washed; there is something incredibly sensuous about having someone else wash your hair. Then her hands traveled down my body, and over the next twenty minutes or so ensured that every inch of it was squeaky clean.

As expected, she ended up on her knees in front of me, the tip of my cock just brushing her lips.

She gazed up at me, transfixing me with her glorious stare, and moved forward, allowing her lips to part as she engulfed me in a single, long slow push. She didn’t blink, and before long, she was pressing her nose against my belly, the tip of my cock nestled in the back of her throat.

She swallowed, and I almost lost it then.

She pulled back, allowing the spit collected in her mouth to drool out, over my cock and balls and dribble across her magnificent breasts. When she had almost pulled all the way off my cock, she gave my glans a gentle tongue lashing, paying attention to the frenulum on the underside before pushing forward again to deepthroat me once again.

I groaned in appreciation and leaned back against the wall. I doubted that my legs would continue to support me if she kept on.

Amanda pulled off with a pop, and then knelt up, bringing her tits to either side of my cock, pillowing them together, and encasing it in a glorious mound of firm, slippery delicious tit-flesh. She slid down until the tip of my cock peeked out, and gave it a loving lick, before sliding up again, engulfing my turgid meat in the wonderful smooth wetness between her breasts. Up and down, she slid her tits, keeping the pressure on with her arms and lapping at my head each time it peeked out from between her luscious mounds.

She gazed up at me, love in those beautiful tawny eyes. “Do it,” she said. “Fuck my tits. I want to feel your spunk on them, on my face, in my mouth.”

I groaned and started moving my hips, sliding my slick member between her glorious mammaries, feeling the hot firm flesh pressing in and rubbing against mine, stimulating my sensitive head, which she was sucking into her mouth each time it appeared before releasing it with a gentle ‘pop’ as I drew back for another thrust.

She was using her upper arms to press her tits together, keeping the pressure on. That freed her hands up. With one, she gently caressed and stroked my balls. The other, predictably but wonderfully, snuck inexorably back, massaging and stroking at my taint for a few moments before drifting up to my asshole. I felt her fingertip stroking it, then probing at it, and I groaned.

It was obvious what her endgame was, and I had no complaints. I was in heaven. I reached out to her to share the sensations with her, but she gently rebuffed my advance, missing a couple of thrusts with her mouth to speak.

“This is all about you,” she said. “Relax, enjoy, and feed me your cum.”

I was moving quicker, really getting into fucking her tits, the feelings elicited in my cock and balls making me forget everything but that. I felt her finger breach my anus and gently stroke inside a few times, stretching me out and massaging my special place. That almost tipped me over, and I whined as I felt her withdraw her finger. The loss of sensation was enough to deny me the orgasm that had actually been sneaking up on me.

“Fuck my tits,” she said in a low voice. “Give me your spunk. Shoot all the thick juicy cum all over me.”

Then she shoved two fingers fully into my asshole, and I was lost.

I had the tip of my cock in her mouth when I screamed out my orgasm, the first spurt going fully into her mouth. She didn’t even twitch, but as my hips came back, impaling me on her fingers, even more, she massaged me inside. Another spurt hit her full in the face and then coated her tits as I pulled further back.

She released my cock from between her tits and began wanking me, with two fingers still working away inside me, and pointing my still-spurting hose at her face and her tits, reveling in the cum bath I was giving her.

Amanda milked me dry, squeezing out the last drops of my cum, which she gently licked off before gently sliding her fingers out from my ass and standing up. She pulled me to her, kissing me deeply, sharing what she had caught in her mouth with me whilst rubbing her slick and sticky breasts all over my chest.

By the time she released me, I was boneless.

She drew back and smiled at me. “Now, about that shower,” she said.

I smiled at her, spinning us both in a half-circle and then pressing her against the shower wall.

“I think it’s your turn,” I said, kissing her deeply again, the taste of my cum still fresh in both our mouths.

I saw her eyes widen and her pupils flare with arousal as I started to stroke her body.

There was no pretence of washing. Pure lust drove us. Neither of us was under the water at this stage, but the shower was hot and filled with steam, keeping both our bodies covered in a light, slippery sheen.

I tapped into my power to feel what she felt. I wanted direct feedback for every stroke, lick, and kiss I gave her. I was finally going to tame this lioness.

I kissed her again, and she pressed against me, her arms coming around, trying to regain the advantage. She squeaked in surprise as she was suddenly, albeit gently, pinned to the wall. Invisible hands held her arms above her head while I started to explore her body.

My lips trailed over hers in a soft kiss whilst I stroked her neck and chest, still sticky with my cum. She purred as I gently massaged the gooey mess into her tits. I also used some of it to lubricate my fingers before going to work on her nipples, tweaking and rolling them just how she liked it. All the while, my tongue plundered her mouth.

Trailing kisses down her neck, I continued to massage her breast with my hand as I began to kiss and lick at the other. She seemed to really like the thought of me tasting my own cum off her body. I continued to lap and nip at her breast, sucking the nipple into my mouth, rolling and nipping at it gently while I used my hands to replicate the sensation on the other breast. An idea occurred to me and I pulled back a little, using the tiniest bit of Telekinesis to continue the sensations on her nipple. Her eyes were closed at this stage so she didn’t notice I had pulled back. She could still feel what she thought was my mouth on her breast. Carefully, I fine-tuned my power, using the feedback I was getting from her to make sure it felt exactly as it should.

I then attacked her other breast with my mouth, licking and nipping and rolling her nipple around between my tongue and teeth. She squeaked, opening her eyes in surprise. Initially, I felt confusion; she wondered who had joined us before the realization hit. She moaned, pushing her breasts forward, basking in my ministrations.

I remembered wondering in a previous session if I could make someone cum just by playing with their tits, and decided I was about to find out.

I started using my power on her other breast, continuing the licking, biting, and sucking, massaging the flesh and running broad strokes of my tongue over her tits and down the valley between them. I collected a good amount of my own cum on my tongue and stood back up, capturing her mouth and thrusting my cum-covered tongue deep inside.

That was too much for the poor girl, and she screamed into my mouth as her first orgasm shot through her. I felt her juices splattering against my legs as she came; she bucked and trembled under me as I controlled her breathing with the kiss.

I eased off the assault on her breasts, just delivering gentle kisses while she rode out the last of her orgasm. Her breath was coming in gasps. I delivered soft kisses and licks to her lips until her eyes opened at last and she looked at me.

“Take me to bed,” she said, but I shook my head.

“We’re not finished here yet,” I said.

For a second I thought I saw actual fear in her aura - the tiniest spike of yellow - but it was subsumed in an instant by rich purple.

I kissed her again, then began the journey down her body once more.

Everywhere my lips and tongue touched, I left a tiny amount of power, continuing the sensation as I moved on, so that by the time I had reached her breasts she was breathing heavily again, with the beginnings of another climax already boiling in her belly.

I kissed lower and lower, lapping at her breasts, then down to her soft but trim tummy. I spent a few minutes with my tongue gently exploring her navel, sending her images of my cock rubbing all over her body, spurting shot after shot of creamy spunk over her.

She shuddered and moaned, the climax building further. When I was finally down in front of her, I used my power to pull her legs up and out, bent at her knees. Once more she squeaked as I opened her up, exposing her to me.

I kissed the insides of her thighs, moving closer to her pussy, and then moved across to the other side. She twitched and writhed, trying to get my mouth on her pussy, to finish the inexorable climb to orgasm. I had reduced the sensation on the rest of her body to slow the climb down. I didn’t want her to cum too soon.

Finally, I ran my tongue up the length of her slit, starting by circling her asshole and then taking a broad sweep upwards. I paused to dip inside of her, scooping out some of her juices with my tongue before continuing up to her clit and writing my name there.

She ground her hips forward, trying to get more sensation. Again and again I repeated the performance, each time faster than the last: a swirl around her asshole, a lap, a dip to collect some of her copious juices, and then a swipe up to her clit. I picked names to write, each time letting her know whose was being inscribed. It’s not like I had any shortage.

Mine, Jules, Mary’s, Dianna’s, James’, Debs’... I could feel she was getting closer and closer with each pass until I knew she was on the very edge. I increased the stimulation elsewhere on her body and once again lapped at her asshole. This time I pushed my tongue in as far as I could go.

I felt her climax build, but subside when I pulled my tongue out. She whined.

I moved up to her pussy, and once again stuck my tongue in as deep as I could get it, lapping and swirling it around to collect as much of her juice as I could.

Yet again her climax built, but once more I denied her, pulling out before she reached the tipping point.

I stood. All the foreplay had gotten me completely rigid once again, which is what I had been aiming for. I captured her lips once again, and in the same instant, thrust my tongue, still covered in her juices, deep inside her mouth as I rammed my turgid tool deep inside her pussy.

Her eyes snapped open and bulged as her orgasm hit her like a train. I held the kiss and controlled her breath as she whimpered and thrashed, trying to comprehend the overwhelming cascade of sensations racing through her body. Her back arched and her legs clamped around my waist, pulling me deep inside of her. I could feel her pussy fluttering and pulsating on my cock, and had I not had the training in blocking pain, I wouldn’t have been able to prevent my own orgasm. I’d figured I could use the same technique to block those nerve impulses instead.

For what seemed to be an age, she squeaked and whimpered and thrashed under me. Eventually, she quieted down and relaxed - still supported by my power, but limp and exhausted.

I released her mouth from the kiss.

“Oh my…” she said. “Caleb…”

Gently, I released her arms from the bonds. I placed her on her feet and carefully washed her, trying not to cause her too many spasms from oversensitivity. Thanking my stars for the constant hot water heater, I swiftly washed myself off while supporting a stupefied Amanda with my power.

I got us dried and then took her and laid her gently on the bed.

“Caleb,” she said, tears in her eyes, “that was wonderful, but I…”

“I know,” I said. “Relax, and let me take care of you.”

Gently I rolled her onto her tummy and once again began my gentle exploration of her body. I remembered all the places I had found the last time around: what had wound her up, and what had made her sleepy. I didn’t want her sleepy yet.

I kissed her ears, running my tongue around the rim, kissing and nipping at her neck and shoulders.

One good thing about using my power to stimulate her breasts was that It didn’t matter if she was laying on them or not. She would still feel me lapping and nipping at her nipples.

I spent only a little time on her back, knowing that made her sleepy. Skipping her butt, I began to kiss and lick at the back of her knees before trailing kisses up the insides of her thighs

She opened her legs and gave me access to her treasure, and I lapped at her pussy, just about able to reach her clit, before running my tongue up her slit to finish off at her asshole, where I pushed the tip inside.

She bucked her hips back. She wanted more.

I spent the next few minutes lapping at her pussy and setting a tiny amount of power to gently suckle at her clit. I rimmed her deeper and deeper, eliciting squeaks and groans of pleasure as she pushed her ass back at me.

A bottle of lube flew across the room into my hand, and I dropped a dollop of it directly onto her asshole. She jumped a little bit from the cold sensation, then started to purr as I pushed first one, then two and finally three fingers into her, opening her up in preparation.

“Caleb,” she moaned, “Please, no more. Just fuck my ass. Please.”

I slathered my cock in the lube, and then some more, placing the tip against her slightly-loosened sphincter. I pushed forward gently, and she groaned as her asshole began to unfold around the head of my cock.

She tilted her hips, pushing herself back and impaling herself more. I saw a small spike of pain in her aura, and I retreated a little until it faded before once again pressing forward.

The sensation for me was incredible. Her ass was the tightest thing I had ever been in. It was like trying to force my cock into a slick, hot, steel press. I pushed forward, finally getting the whole head through the tight ring, which clamped closed behind it, trapping me inside.

Amanda moaned again. “Push it in. All the way.”

I pressed forward with my hips. Moving slowly and carefully, I buried my entire length in her bottom, my balls resting against her pussy and my crotch pressed tight against her ass.

She turned her head, trying to capture my mouth in a kiss. I drew back slightly, and she let out a whine which turned into a moan as I pressed back inside of her.

“Again,” she said, and I obliged, pulling out a little further this time before pushing slowly back in as far as I could reach. Even then, she pressed back into me trying to get me as deep up her ass as she could.

“Now fuck me,” she said. “Hard.”

I pulled back once again, a little further, then pressed forward, and pulled back, then forward, again and again slowly picking up the pace, constantly making sure she was only getting pleasure from my movements. Soon I was fucking her. Her legs were wide, and mine were between them, as I really started to plow into her.

I lifted her hips, pulling her into a kneeling position, which allowed me to get even deeper inside of her. My balls slapped against her drooling cunt and were splattered with her juices on each thrust.

I increased the Telekinetic action on her nipples and clit as I really started to pound her. Soon I was ramming my cock up her ass as hard as I could go, meeting her as she pushed back hard, begging me to push harder and faster and deeper.

I knew that I was starting to get close, and it was going to be a race to the finish. I could feel her climax building. I decided that my shooting my cream deep up inside of her would be enough to push her over the edge, and I dedicated myself to that end faster and faster, harder and deeper.

I hauled up and delivered a stinging slap to her ass, and she squealed, the pain causing her asshole to twitch and heat to rush to her pussy. Another slap, and another. I could feel that the heat and sting were pushing her so close that anything at all would tip her over.

I roared as I pushed myself into her as deep as I could go and released a torrent of spunk, jet after jet of creamy hot jizz shooting up inside of her.

The feeling of my orgasm - of my cock pulsating inside her asshole - compounded by the thought of my spunk being shot deep inside her, pushed her into her own orgasm. She let out a keening wail and began to twitch and thrash. My balls and thighs were soaked as she shot spurt after spurt of her juices over them. I pushed two fingers into her cunt and pressed hard onto her G-spot, and she seized up. My TK was still lapping and sucking at her nipples and clit. Her asshole was spasming wildly on my cock and she was thrashing and twitching like a landed fish.

Then she passed out.

I followed her down to the bed, taking my weight on my arms, and gently pulled out of her ass. Her asshole gaped a little, and a rivulet of my cum trickled out and across her pussy.

I rolled off her and lay on my side, gently pulling her onto hers and into spoons before covering us with a sheet. We would need to change the bed in any case, and we both needed another shower.

I felt her stiffen as she woke, and then she began to sob.

“Amanda?”

“Happy tears.”

She rolled over to face me, letting me see them.

“Thank you, Caleb,” she said. “That was everything I hoped it would be.”

“It’s me who should be thanking you,” I said. “My only concern is I have no idea how anything could ever measure up to that again. Am I doomed to a life of disappointment?”

She smiled. “I’m sure we will be able to come up with something.”

I offered her a fist bump. “It’s something of a tradition, apparently,” I said as she obliged.

We both spoke at the same time.

“Caleb,” she began.

“Amanda,” I said.

She giggled and I smiled. I loved that sound.

“Please,” I said. “You first.”

“This may sound strange,” she said, “given the way Mary and I keep encouraging you to ‘share’ - and we will. We love to share. Both of us are really looking forward to Debs sharing with us, and anyone else, male or female, we want to invite, but…”

She looked uncertain, but I knew what she wanted to say, because it was exactly the same thing I wanted to.

“But our family is complete now,” I said. “You, me, Mary, Jules. That’s all I need and all I could ever want. If at some time in the future some kids come along, then that’s something else, but as far as the ‘adults’ are concerned, we’re closed to admission.”

She looked at me, biting her lip.“You don’t mind?”

I laughed. “Three months ago, I thought I was bound for a monogamous relationship. I wasn’t sure who, or even what gender, they would be, but I thought that when I found ‘the one’ that would be it.

“And then I found Mary, and then you and Jules, and you are all ‘the one.’ Even without the bond, I could no more be without you or Mary than my head, and the same goes for Jules.

“I never wanted a harem. I just wanted someone to love, and who would love me. And I have found them.”

“But what if you…” she began.

“What if you… or Mary, or Jules?” I countered. “If that happens, we will deal with it then. Yes, it is possible that any one of us might fall for someone else. If that happens to Jules and she wants to leave us to be with that person, then I will be personally devastated, but she deserves to be happy.

“The bond makes our situation a little more complicated. If any of us falls for a new person, then we are going to have to discuss it. But for right now, I don’t think I want anyone else in this relationship. I am more than happy with those who are currently involved, and I’d love to spend the rest of my life proving it.”

I heard a sniff from the door and saw that Mary and Jules were standing there. We had been so tied up in each other that neither of us had noticed their return, even through the bond.

Jules came over and climbed on the bed beside me.

“I’m not going anywhere,” she said. “There is no way I could ever find anyone that I could love as much as I love you guys.”

I smiled at her and pulled her in for a hug.

She wrinkled her nose. “You stink, by the way.”

I saw Mary look at Amanda, and then Mary’s eyes glazed over for a second. I guess she had shared the memory of our time together.

“Hey, that’s cheating,” I said. “Now I have to think up something new.”

Mary smiled at me, tears running down her cheeks.

“If you make it that good,” she said, “I don’t care if you repeat yourself a little, but Jules is next in any case.”

I looked at Jules. “You want to do something with just me?” I asked, wondering what she had in mind. I was thinking of movies or a night out.

She smiled a little bashfully.

“Tomorrow, with luck, will be the last day of my period,” she said. “I was hoping that Tuesday night, you might like to help me ‘scratch my itch.’”

I pulled her closer. “I would love to help you,” I said.

“You still stink!” she said, pulling away. “Go shower.”

I let Amanda use the bathroom first, giving her some privacy to clean up from our activities. I guess I could have used the family bathroom, but I busied myself stripping the bed and taking the laundry to the utility room.

I ran into Josh and Louise in the kitchen as I walked through, naked. I grinned at them.

“Oh hey, congrats,” I said, offering Louise a fist bump.

She looked at Josh, a little annoyed.

“Sorry Louise,” I said. “If you want to keep stuff like that private, then don’t sing so loud when it happens.”

Josh laughed and Louise went scarlet, but then relaxed and laughed also.

“Sorry,” she said. “Considering all we have done together I shouldn’t be bashful.”

“Amanda was so jealous that you lost it before she did,” I said.

“I’m sure you’ll get to it,” Louise said, before looking at me again. “Oh, I guess you already got to it, which is why you smell like a backstreet brothel and are changing the sheets.” She offered me another fist bump.

I shook my head. “She wasn’t my first, but I was hers.”

“She was your first woman, though,” Louise said, holding out her fist.

I gave up and bumped her.

I put the sheets in the washer and made my way back to the bedroom. Jules had remade the bed and Amanda was out of the bathroom. I went and showered. After that, I spent a couple of hours in the garden, doing some martial arts training, took another quick shower, and then decided I was going to try my hand at cooking dinner for us all.

About ten minutes in, Mary came and rescued me, and we spent an enjoyable couple of hours cooking and then eating a meal together, everyone gathering around the table and complimenting me on the beans I had managed to not destroy.

I needed to learn to cook.

Since I would be having a training session early the next morning, I had an early night, and went to bed, accompanied by Amanda.

“You don’t need to…” I began. It was quite early for her.

“I want to,” she said. “To use the vernacular, I’m fucked.” She grinned at me.

“Are you okay?” I asked. “I didn’t hurt you?”

“A little, but it was a good hurt,” she said. “Right now, I’m floating on air.”

I remembered that Jules’ pain block would expire in the early hours of the morning, so I checked in on her with my powers. I could still see the pain signals firing, so I extended the block for another twenty-four hours. I made a note to check her again tomorrow.

I pulled Amanda to me and curled up behind her, soon falling into a dreamless sleep.

When I got to the gym the next morning, James was not alone. There was a small woman standing with him who looked to be about fifty, with iron-grey hair pulled back into a tight bun and spectacles. She looked me up and down and sniffed disapprovingly. I raised an eyebrow at James.

He grimaced. I could see in his aura he was dreading what was about to happen.

“Caleb,” he began. “I would like to introduce you to Maggie Forbes. Maggie, this is Caleb.”

“I’m pleased to meet you,” I said politely. She just stared at me.

I stood relaxed and waited. I had an hour and a half to kill, so if she wanted to play games then I would be happy to go along.

“A pleasure to have met you,” I said to her at eight o’clock, and I left to go shower before breakfast. If nothing else, the ninety-minute meditation had done me some good.

+++++

“Who?” asked Mary, as I queried her about the woman.

“Maggie Forbes,” I said. “Small woman, I would guesstimate in her fifties, although if she is a power user, I have no idea. Gray hair.”

Mary shrugged, although I felt something awry in the bond.

“So, you do know her, but have been told not to warn me about her,” I concluded. “Whom by – her, or Dianna? And by what right?”

“Caleb, please,” Mary said, “it’s not always that easy.”

I considered, for a fleeting second, just pulling the information from Mary’s mind. She wouldn’t even know I had been there. But that would be a violation of trust. Even if I felt that she had violated my trust already, I couldn’t do that to her. It was one thing overhearing errant thoughts, but purposely digging into someone’s mind without their consent, that was something else.

I picked up my phone and called Dianna.

“Caleb,” she said upon answering. “What can I do for you?”

“You can tell vinegar tits that I won’t be training with her in the future,” I said. “She stepped over the line telling my girls to lie to me.”

I heard Dianna sigh.

“Maggie likes to make her own assessment of her trainees,” she said. “If the girls had told you, then you would have been prepared for her.”

“Well, I am prepared for her,” I concluded, “for her to fuck off and leave us alone. I don’t need her meddling in my private life. My relationship with the girls is built on love and trust. How much can I trust them if someone like her can order them to withhold information from me? If anyone, and I mean anyone, told me to withhold information from them, then I would go tell them to take a walk. I guess I am starting to appreciate my status in the pecking order.”

I put the phone down, looked at Mary, and left the table to go to my first class.

Once again, I was mad as hell.

I was mad with the Forbes woman, but I was even madder with Mary, who had agreed to do whatever this woman had wanted. I didn’t know where Amanda stood, but I guessed that she had been told the same thing. I wondered what she would have done in the same circumstances.

I skipped English, not wanting to speak to Mary just then. Instead, I went to the gym and did an hour’s worth of martial arts practice. At lunchtime, I chose to run around the track. I wasn’t hungry in any case.

I just didn’t understand. I thought the bond meant that we were supposed to be there for each other - a solid unit, unassailable from the outside, looking out for each other and having each other’s backs. Or did that only count when it was me having their backs? Was it all one way? I examined the bond and could see the love there, but if that love was true, then how could she so easily be compelled to lie to me, or at least withhold information? I didn’t mean Compelled, either. There’d been none of that; I would have seen it. They’d been asked, told, or convinced to do it, and I struggled to imagine what would convince me to do the same to them.

I was coming around the track for the fifth time when I saw Jules sitting on the bleachers, waiting for me. For an instant, I considered running right by, but I supposed she was blameless. I sincerely doubted anybody had looped her in.

I jogged up and plonked myself onto the bench beside her.

“Hey you,” she said. “How’s it going?”

“Jules, I love you,” I said, the corner of my mouth turning up. “And I love Mary and Amanda. But right now, I’m mad, certainly at Mary, and probably at Amanda too. Am I going to be mad at you too?”

I looked into those brown pools and hoped against hope she wasn’t part of it.

She nodded. “I’m sorry Caleb,” she said. “They made me swear an oath not to tell you.”

I sighed and climbed to my feet. Again, I knew I could easily pluck the information from her mind, but I couldn’t do that to her.

“I’m sorry too, Kitten,” I said and ran on.

Amanda was standing outside my first, afternoon lesson in the science block. I nearly turned around and walked away. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to see her. I just really didn’t want confirmation that all three of the girls that were supposed to love me - that should have my back and that I should be able to trust one hundred percent - had chosen to prioritize something or someone else.

Amanda, as always led with her heart. “Caleb, you know we love you,” she said. “Please don’t be mad at us.”

“Do I?” I asked. “Then tell me, who is Maggie Forbes? And by what right can she tell you to lie to me, or at least withhold information? We are bonded - supposedly an unbreakable bond of love and trust, only I’m not feeling much trust. So, Amanda, tell me: who is she?”

Her eyes filled with tears. “I can’t tell you. Please don’t ask me.”

I nodded my head sadly. Again, the temptation to reach into Amanda’s mind and just extract the information was there, but I pushed it away. If she was unwilling to share it with me, then I had no right to violate her mind to steal it from her.

I closed the classroom door as I entered, leaving Amanda standing outside. I remembered nothing at all from the lesson.

I needed to think, to decide what to do. I needed some peace and quiet. It was too noisy. Then I realized where I was.

I climbed the stairs until I was facing the door to the roof, which had been kept locked since the university had heard of Jules’ attempt.

It took me longer than it should have to use my TK to open the lock. I stepped out onto the roof, walking over to the parapet. I leaned on it, looking down at the scene below. I was on the other side of the roof to that which Jules had chosen, and was overlooking the quadrangle.

The parapet came up to my chest. I had no intention of throwing myself over, I just wanted some peace to think and decide what to do next.

Being on the roof reminded me of Jules, and I wandered around to where she had been sitting on the parapet, legs dangling over the drop below. I was disappointed in Jules, but I could understand how she might get bullied into holding back information, especially if she could be convinced that there was a good reason, and that the information wasn’t that important in any case. What had devastated me was that the twins had gone along with it. The bond was supposed to be an unbreakable, unimpeachable link. It was the foundation on which I had started to rebuild my faith in both me and those around me. According to Dianna, those girls were supposed to be mine, just as I was theirs. As far as I was concerned, it would be impossible for me to withhold information about anything from them, even if, for some unfathomable reason, I felt it was the right thing to do. I didn’t understand how the same couldn’t be true the other way.

I checked my tell again. I wasn’t in an illusion... Still, I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong. I did have faith in the bond. I did trust my girls. I reconsidered: what was more likely, that the twins somehow violated the bond without me knowing, or that James had figured out my tell, and had accounted for it in the illusion?

I was curious as to how he had gotten through my shields, but the more I thought about it, the more I became convinced that that was what was happening.

I felt a wicked grin flicker on my lips. I thought about payback. If I was certain I was in an illusion, I could put on a show of my own for anyone watching. I could run amok, cause mayhem, and make them think I’d completely lost my mind.

The problem was that I wasn’t certain. My faint flicker of feeling powerful and in control vanished, and I got mad – just plain mad.

I imagined the scene below me freezing, and the filmstrip appeared, melting from the middle to leave me staring at James’ grinning face. Maggie stood beside him, regarding me coldly. They were both outside of easy punching distance. That was smart.

I turned around and started to walk away.

“Caleb,” he said, “we’re not done.”

“Yeah, we are,” I replied, pulling my ID out of my wallet and dropping it on the floor.

“Is that rainy day fund still on offer?” I sent to Mary and Amanda; their response was immediate.

“Of course, what did you need?”

“We need a place to live.” I sent. “I just quit my consulting job.”

My phone rang: Dianna.

“Caleb?”

“Agent Everson.”

“Agent? What? What’s going on, Caleb?”

“They crossed the line,” I said. “I told him right at the beginning that if he used my girls in the training, my response would be extreme. I think I’m being incredibly restrained.”

“Maggie said you stormed off in a snit, like a child.”

“And standing there refusing to even acknowledge my greeting was the sign of a mature adult?” I retorted.

“Caleb, you can’t just walk away from this,” she said.

“No?” I said amiably. “Watch me.”

I hung up the phone, and then switched it off. Anyone I wanted to speak to just then didn’t need to use a phone. Anyone else could leave a message.

While I walked, I checked my shield. I had been holding it since the last time James had asked me to drop it, and it had degraded. I hadn’t been paying attention. The cloak was patchy, and the shield itself had stopped spinning. It was no wonder she’d been able to get through. I had become complacent, and it had cost me.

I reconstructed the shield, and then for good measure created a second one to run inside the first. I covered both with the cloak and then examined them. Collectively, they seemed as good as I could make them. It did make me feel hungry, though, which tracked.

It was still too early for there to be many students in the cafeteria, but they were open, so I decided to get myself a good breakfast. Picking up a tray, I moved along the buffet line, making ***********ions from the displayed trays of food. When I reached the end, I saw that I had ***********ed almost double the amount of food that I would normally eat, but I knew that I needed it. I added a carton of milk and a carton of juice.

“Hungry?” asked the girl on the register, and I grinned at her.

“I’m a growing boy,” I said, and she looked me up and down with a twinkle in her eye.

“You look fully grown to me,” she returned as I paid.

I moved to a table, not nearly as keen to flirt as usual. I had barely started eating when James and Maggie pulled out the chairs opposite me and sat down. I ignored them both and continued to eat.

“Caleb,” Maggie opened. “James…”

“Ms. Forbes,” I cut her off.

“It’s Assistant Deputy Director, actually,” she said a little snippily.

“Apologies, Assistant Deputy Director Forbes,” I corrected myself. “I don’t recall allowing you the use of my given name. I would prefer it if you would address me as Mr. Stott.”

“Caleb,” James started.

“And I would prefer it if you didn’t address me at all,” I said to him as I went back to my breakfast.

“How long do you intend to sulk like a petulant child?” she asked. I noted she didn’t address me by name.

“Sulk?” I asked, raising my eyebrows. “I’m not sulking. We had an agreement. He broke the agreement, so our relationship is terminated.” I continued working my way through my breakfast, not looking at them.

“You were becoming complacent,” she said. “Your shields were a joke, and he figured out your tell. You had to be corrected.”

“All good points,” I said, cutting into a particularly tough piece of bacon, “and ones I would have been delighted to be corrected on, but we had an agreement. The twins were not to be used in training. I warned him of the consequences.”

“And we didn’t use the twins,” she said. “We used an illusion. To put it another way, we’ve been bending over backward to accommodate you, even though the entire point of this training is to get you ready for when somebody truly malicious makes a play. Frankly, I’m both disappointed in, and surprised by, James’ restraint. Dianna’s is equally disappointing, but not surprising. That’s why I’m here.”

“Well, now you can leave,” I replied. “I’m no longer your problem.”

“You’ll always be my problem, Caleb,” she said. “I was hoping you’d be more than just that.”

“And what did I say about my name?” I asked, flattening my tone.

“Trust me, young man, I have a lot of other things I’d like to call you right now.”

James had a lot of discipline, but I felt him squirming next to the iron lady – if not literally, then at least figuratively. It was only when I felt Ms. Forbes’ power amassing that I felt him shift, mentally, into a ready stance. He shot her a quick glance. Her eyes didn’t flicker toward his, but I could tell she got the message. Her jaw tensed, but the power dissipated.

“You’re a loaded weapon, young man,” she said. “You are always going to be my problem until I retire, and some other poor fool replaces me. You can’t just wander around without training in how to prevent yourself from being used.”

“Second amendment would say different,” I said. “Show me where it says that anyone with a loaded weapon must have training. Besides, I was getting training, until somebody broke our agreement.”

Maggie scoffed. She actually sounded a bit British. It fit her vibe rather well. “You didn’t tell me he was an out-and-out cliché, James,” she said, pointedly shifting her focus from me. “A university freshman lecturing a high-ranking law enforcement official on the Constitution. Somebody who was discussing the ramifications of Heller with some of the nation’s most powerful people when he was barely out of diapers, and whose agency deals with beyond-top-secret threats that make the entire War on Terror look like the farce it is – well, except for those occasions when it falls under our purview too.”

I chuckled. It was forced, but it felt right. “Gee, you’re really doing everything you can to convince me that you’re the good guys. A nice dose of ‘liberty and dignity are just lies we tell the masses’ at just the right moment in the conversation. Well done, Ms. Forbes. Well done.”

That drew her attention back to me. Her eyes narrowed.

“We had no agreement,” she said. “James told you he understood your position. You apparently erroneously concluded that he, a martial arts trainer, spoke for the entire agency, and was making you a promise. That’s its own kind of sloppy, young man. Honestly, when are you going to show a single shred of humility? Evidence that you’re not nearly as invulnerable as you think you are just smacked you upside the head, and you’re responding to it like a spoiled child. Did Harold Bleasdale or Owen Booth go through proper channels and arrange a contest between themselves and each of their victims? Set it in a boxing ring, maybe, or one of those octagons you young people seem to like? Did they give their victims itchy genitals and throw up another point on the scoreboard? Did they hear the end-of-round bell ring and ease up? Back off when the ref was dealing with their downed opponent?

“Compared to some of the shit out there, young man, they’re nothing. We’re trying to stem a tide of pure fucking evil that can sleaze its way past ninety-nine percent of the safeguards and systems that the Norms have built, including those on literal weapons of mass destruction. You’re nearly powerful enough to qualify as one of those yourself, and you’re crying about the fact that we lightly probed your self-admitted biggest vulnerability inside of an illusion, as part of an established training regimen.

“Frankly, I’m amazed you can sustain this ‘bond’ of yours with three other people at all, because from where I sit, you can’t even see past the end of your own nose – hardly surprising when your whole head is up your ass.”

James shot her another look. She shut him down without returning it, or uttering a single word aloud.

I shrugged. I knew I didn’t need to push. I was under her skin already. “It’s fine,” I said casually. “I’ll be perfectly happy up there with my girls. No more helping. No more devil’s bargains for nice houses or whatever else. I’ll call my uncle John and see about being just another happy, selfish piece of shit while you do your best to alienate every powered person who might’ve been an asset to your organization. All evidence suggests that that’s what you want. You’d have behaved so very differently today otherwise.”

She smiled wickedly then. That told me everything I needed to know about uncle John; he was in on it. I had to admit that it came as a surprise. I gave her a grateful nod for the information, and her smile vanished.

“She’s…” James began. It was a race between Maggie and me to see who could cut him off first. I won, at least by appearances – perhaps because I was the only one willing to speak aloud.

“She’s family,” I said. “That’s the final card to play. Long lives, only two main bloodlines, ours is big and powerful and scary with the Compulsion and whatnot. Yes, sensei, I am able to connect a few dots, even up here in the dark recesses of my own rectum.”

“Dianna indulges herself,” Maggie said coldly. “I can’t afford to. Arguably, neither can she.”

“Don’t shed a tear about it,” I said. “I’m building a family of my own, and you don’t need to even bother applying.”

I was finished with my breakfast, and quite finished with the two people opposite me. I made a point of arranging my trash on my tray before standing up. They stood too – James out of some semblance of decorum, and Maggie to rebuff my power play. It was plain in their body language.

“I don’t want to see you, hear from you, or feel you,” I said. “If I do, it’s itchy genitals all around – the first time. Each time after that, it spreads to a fun new area. Otherwise, go do your jobs. Save the world – the one where you bully and abuse everyone for the greater good. You’re not done with me? Fine. I’m done with you.”

Our final pissing contest was silence and stares. They were both good at it; Maggie was infinitely better. I indulged it for longer than I should have, but finally just shrugged and walked away. I had to go find my real family a new place to live.

When I got back to the house, I was hungry again. Maintaining my shields at that level obviously came at a cost, and I considered whether I really needed the dual-level shields plus a cloak at all times, or if that was just a knee-jerk reaction to my own lack of care.

Eventually, I decided to drop the second shield, and just make it part of my daily routine to rebuild my main one. I resolved to check them every hour for a couple of days and see whether daily was enough.

I also considered and created a couple of new tells. I decided I needed a backup, in case my primary was compromised again. I had thought not to bother, thinking that just attempting to break out of the illusion would be enough, but then I remembered my wicked thought up on that fake roof. It seemed to me there might be advantages to staying in an illusion once you’d discovered it.

While I was thinking of that, I was also making myself a sandwich, practically on autopilot. I had just sat down at the kitchen counter to eat it when the front door opened. Maggie and James walked in.

“Get out,” I said to James. “You are not welcome here.”

“Caleb,” he began, but I pushed him out of the door with TK and slammed it behind him.

“This is your one freebie because we’re related,” I told Maggie. “It’s a very tiny one, so get to the fucking point.”

“Caleb I’m your great-great-grandmother,” she said.

I silently let her know how much I cared, and that she’d better hurry it along.

“When I first saw you,” she continued, “you were three days old. Even then I could see that you were more powerful than any other user I had ever seen. We needed to make sure that power was controlled, to make you safe. You overwhelmed your amulet, which isn’t supposed to be possible; you manifested, and not two, but four powers emerged in rapid succession. Simply put, you are making a lot of people very nervous.”

“Mmmm, well, it seems to me like fear has led to the Dark Side,” I replied. “You just don’t get how important trust is – was – in all of this. Break that trust, and literally, my entire life is up for review, and the results aren’t good. Even more so this new facet of it, and everybody who’s a part of it.”

“Even the twins?” she asked.

“Don’t fucking go there,” I replied.

The door opened and Dianna walked in, demonstrating the worst timing in the history of all entrances.

“Get out,” I said, pushing her back out, and once again slamming the door. I sealed it with TK. I immediately felt someone testing the strength of the seal. There was no particular sense of urgency though, and that annoyed me.

“Well?” I prompted. “Your time is running out, old lady.”

“We have to know,” she said simply. “Ultimately, there is no other trial than trial by fire. You don’t like the law enforcement and military metaphors, I know, but they’re apt. Let’s try sports instead. You learn to dodge by taking hits. You learn to endure the hits by taking hits. You learn to get surprised less often by getting surprised. You learn that you’re never going to dodge everything, and you’re never going to fully eliminate surprise from the equation. That leaves the last defense: taking the hits.

“That’s all there is to it. You understood that with James’ lessons right up until you didn’t. I’m trying to get you to see that there is no difference of kind, only degree – and, like it or not, you jumped the line all the way up to the highest levels of power and risk. That means the fire we use to test you has to be as hot as fucking hell – and today, we did nothing more than nudge the dial. Believe it or not, you blew the test away, right up until you melted down. You got sloppy with your defenses beforehand, yes, but you caught on to the illusion so quickly. We’re all curious how.”

I laughed. “Like I’m going to give you even more ammunition to use against me. You’re just not getting it. I am so done with you and yours. You want puppets, and I refuse to be one. You said it yourself: I’m a weapon. Weapons are things. I am not interested in working with anyone who sees me as a thing. You have controlled my life for eighteen years, and I never even knew you existed. It ends now.”

“Of course it does,” Maggie said quietly. “After all, you’ll just know. Multiple powered people, an entire government agency, hundreds of years of history, but no, you’ll know. You’ll be so sure.”

“I’d goddamn well better be,” I replied. I finished my sandwich and put the plate in the dishwasher.

“I’d like you to leave now,” I said, “before I get accused of kidnapping. I lasted eighteen years without knowing you. I am certain that my life won’t change much if you just fuck off and leave me the hell alone. If that turns out to be an itch you can’t stop scratching, well… one good itch deserves another.”

I unsealed the door and it opened. There were people standing on the porch: James, Dianna, Mary, Amanda, and Jules.

Jules walked through the door, came over to me and put her arms around me. She didn’t speak. She just gazed up at me. Those beautiful, big brown eyes were liquid. Amanda and Mary followed, each putting their arms around me. I felt Amanda flex her power, and I felt feelings of love, trust and forgiveness flowing over me.

I quashed them. It was easy. Her eyes widened.

“No, Amanda,” I said. “It’s not that easy. You can’t just wave your magic wand and make it all better. I will choose to believe that was a genuine effort to make me feel better, and not a cynical manipulation driven by your grandmother or the scheming witch who calls herself my great-great-grandmother, or both. But please, don’t do it again.”

I caught a flicker of her eyes toward Dianna and shook my head. That confirmed that Dianna had manipulated Amanda into doing that, no doubt telling her it would make me feel better. I didn’t think Mary wouldn’t have fallen for it.

“Caleb,” Jules said, “let’s go visit my parents for a while. Get away from here. You need to cool off, and being around here is not going to allow that. I have spoken to Daddy, and he would be happy for us all to go and stay for a few weeks.”

I looked down at her and nodded.

“Sounds like a plan. If we take our books, we can keep up with the work and catch up on anything we missed after the holidays.”

I looked at Mary and Amanda. “What do you think?”

“We definitely need some distance and some time,” Mary said.

The pair on the doorstop became a trio as Maggie joined them. We left them there and went into the bedroom to pack our bags. Jules said we didn’t need more than a week’s clothes, as we could wash them there. I took my laptop and some books, as did the girls.

When we came out, Maggie had vanished, which seemed appropriate in more ways than one.

Dianna hugged Mary, and then Amanda. She moved towards Jules, but Jules stepped away. Dianna nodded understanding but looked saddened.

Then she looked at me. She sent me an image: a baby that I knew to be me, cradled in her arms.

I sent the same image back, on fire, the picture crisping and turning to ash. My meaning was clear. Tears rolled down her cheeks.

James looked on sadly. He stepped up and offered me his hand. I ignored it, stepping past him.

“I don’t know where yet,” I said, “but when we come back, we’ll get our stuff out of the house. It may even be back in the dorms, but we’ll let you know.”

We loaded our luggage into Amanda’s car and piled in. Amanda would drive, and Jules rode shotgun. Mary and I were in the back.

I didn’t even know where we were going, or how long it would take to get there, but I didn’t care. It was anywhere but there, and that suited me just fine.
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