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Authors note.

As always my thanks to Neurparenthetical, whose untiring vigilance makes my illegible scribble readable. Any residual errors are left there purposely in order to give you guys something to do.

Enjoy. – and please, whatever you feel about the story feedback is always appreciated. I can’t improve if I don’t know where I am going wrong.

Caleb 16 – Coming Home

When we pulled up to the house, there was a strange car and a couple of motorcycles in the driveway. Loud music was playing from within. I got out of the car and walked to the door, dreading what I would find inside. Stupidly, I didn’t tell the girls to stay in the car - although I suppose that if I had, I would have been even stupider to think that they would have paid me any heed. The front door was unlocked, and we walked right in.

There were five strangers in the living room. Two guys in bikers’ leathers could have been brothers. They were over six feet tall and bald, and each of them sported a beard. What little of their skin I could see under all the ink was tanned. They were both sitting on the couch, one on either side of Josh. The one to his right had a gun pressed into Josh’s side.

Stranger number three was a small, wiry, mixed-race guy. He seemed to be in charge. He was sitting on one of the easy chairs, drinking a beer, and holding a gun loosely in his other hand. He was directing the action.

Louise was on the floor, her top torn off, her arms being held by a skinny black guy while another man of mixed race was trying to hold her legs down and remove her jeans at the same time. They were around thigh level, and she was kicking up a storm. The guy in the chair was laughing and shouting encouragement to the guys on Louise.

I used my TK to stop the music, and everybody froze - everybody, that is, except Louise. She wrested one leg free and planted a solid kick to the balls of the guy trying to remove her jeans. He yelped in pain and curled up into a ball.

“Hi,” I said, “how are we all doing?”

Louise and Josh both looked up at me with strange looks on their faces, although neither spoke.

The guy in the chair swiveled the gun in my direction. “Who the fuck are you?” he snarled at me. I ignored him.

“Everyone on the floor, face down, hands behind your heads,” I said, and I imagined all of them obeying me immediately, without question, without any other funny business, and without any hope of doing anything besides breathing until I let them. They complied; they never had a choice.

“Right, the guns,” I added. I imagined the miscreants releasing their holds on their weapons. They did so, and I used TK to slide them carefully away – far from everyone, including my girls.

I saw Louise flush, and also got a sense of disappointment from her. Knowing her penchant for being Compelled I wryly made the bet with myself that she was sorry I had not included her in the order.

Amanda was already helping Louise up -whose aura, was pulsing purple with brown streaks that illustrated her disappointment.

Josh went over to Louise and he threw his arms around her, pulling her to him. I almost did a double take when I saw that his aura had undergone virtually the same transformation that Louise’s had. The menagerie of assholes, meanwhile, were all showing broad swathes of yellow, spiked with red and some black. Orange, a color I had seen before but never enough to identify, seemed to indicate confusion. I didn’t spare a moment’s pity. I did, however, imagine that none of them were able to urinate or defecate. Thankfully, I seemed to have come up with that good idea in time to avoid any unpleasantness.

Louise pulled Josh’s face down and kissed him far more passionately than I thought appropriate, given the circumstances. Then I realized that seeing my Compulsion had triggered a fantasy for her. I filed that away for later. A lot had changed since I’d last seen Louise and spoken to her about my powers. I found myself in need of a new training regimen for my Compulsion, and suddenly had some new ideas about who might be involved, and how.

Louise took Josh’s hand and led him toward their bedroom. If anything, that was even stranger to me. I would’ve thought they would’ve wanted some closure with whomever these intruders were.

It occurred to me that the guns I’d seen and pushed away might not be the only weapons on the thugs, so I redoubled imagining that they were completely paralyzed and helpless, then searched them all. I found another two guns, and a knife on each of them. I secured all of them and pushed them toward the first two guns.

I went over to the guy I had assumed was the leader and decided that since he had broken into my home, it was only fair that I should be allowed to break into his head. Once again, he didn’t have a chance. He was a Norm. In mere moments, his entire mind was an open book to me.

His name was Jerome Kraft, and he was the drug dealer who had previously owned the house. He had been broken out of a prison transport bus and had come back to the house to recover the money and papers he had secreted under the decking beneath the hot tub in the yard. Although the FBI had searched the house, they hadn’t found his hidey-hole. He knew this because there was evidence in there that would have meant further charges against him - not just for drug offenses, but rape and murder as well.

He had orchestrated his own escape using some members of his old gang, promising them a cut of the million-dollar hoard, and his plan had been to grab it and then high-tail it to the border. When they’d gotten to the house and found Josh and Louise, they just couldn’t resist a little R&R before moving on.

I pondered my next move. Involving the local police directly seemed like a mistake. I’d made quick work of five armed thugs without a hint of a struggle, and I didn’t much feel like trashing my own house to cover my tracks. My best option was the feds. I sighed audibly and made the call.

“Frank Howe speaking,” he said as he answered his phone.

“Agent Howe,” I said, “Caleb Stott.”

“Mr. Stott,” he said, his voice cold. “What can I do for you?”

“Jerome Kraft and four of his buddies are currently eating carpet in my front room. I thought you might like to come and sweep them up.”

There was a long silence.

“I’m sorry,” he said, “could you repeat that?”

“Jerome Kraft,” I said. “The escaped drug dealer, rapist, and murderer, is face down on the floor in my living room. Would you like to come to get him, or should I call nine-one-one?”

“Rapist? Murderer?” he queried. “He was never charged with those crimes.”

“I confess I took a peek,” I said. “I can show you where to find some evidence of his crimes, along with a chunk of cash too.”

“We’ll be there in fifteen minutes,” he said, his voice jolting like he was running. “Can you hold them until we get there, or do you want us to get local LEOs?”

“They’re going nowhere,” I said.

We heard the sirens well before the three SUVs screeched to a halt outside the house. Six agents piled out and drew their weapons before approaching.

“Caleb?” Frank shouted.

I had already opened the front door wide. I didn’t want them kicking it in.

“In here,” I said. “All their weapons are on the table over there.” I pointed to where I’d stacked them up. “All the bad guys are on the floor over there.” I pointed again. I couldn’t resist.

“Tell me what happened,” he said.

“Can I show you?” I asked, and he nodded. I shared the memory from when I arrived at the house until I called him.

“Where’s the girl?” he asked.

“I think she’s working off some ‘frustrations’ with her boyfriend in their bedroom,” I said.

His eyebrows rose.

I heard another car come screeching to a halt outside the house, and Dianna rushed in, looking panicked. She looked around. I pointed toward the kitchen, where the twins and Jules were trying to stay out of the way.

“Caleb?”

I heard a voice I recognized. I turned to find Agent David Spencer standing over one of the men. I smiled at him.

“Hey – how are you?” I asked.

“Good, thanks,” he said. “We can’t cuff them. They’re a little stiff.”

“Oops, sorry,” I said. I used Compulsion, rather than TK, to make all of them move their arms behind their backs. Once the cuffs were applied, I made sure that all the agents were ready, and then completely released my control, imagining that all of my Compulsion was a weight that lifted from their bodies and then dissipated. With all the excitement, I couldn’t exactly remember all the things I’d forced them to do and not do. I figured the clean sweep was the safest way to wrap things up. They were dragged to their feet, and then outside, to be loaded into the waiting SUVs. I took one more moment to gaze at their auras. All of them were a mess. Jerome’s was the most intense of five similar storms; he knew he was completely fucked in a way that he’d never been before.

I’d done the Bureau the courtesy of emptying out the hot tub before they’d arrived. Four of the agents moved it and pried up the decking before digging down into the earth underneath it. It wasn’t long before they found what they were looking for.

A million dollars doesn’t really look much. I was kind of disappointed. Frank wasn’t, and when he saw what else was in the stash, he was very ‘not disappointed.’

When all the bad guys had been driven off, and Frank had made arrangements for their vehicles to be towed away, all the agents bar him and David left. They needed to take statements from us, despite my sharing my memory with him.

I had tidied up most of the mess in the living room when the girls and Dianna emerged from the kitchen with coffee for everybody. Josh and Louise returned from their room looking flushed. As they came into the living room, Louise came over to me and pulled me into a tight hug.

“Thank you,” she said, pressing her face into my shoulder. The fact that she was also grinding herself against my leg didn’t escape my attention.

I didn’t say anything; I just held her for a few minutes until she was ready to let go. Once she was, she went to sit on the couch.

Josh was next. He also pulled me into a hug. I thought Louise had gone to take care of them both when they had retired to their room, but judging by the hardness I could feel pressing into me, they hadn’t relieved all their tension.

“Can we talk later?” he whispered, and I nodded. He went and sat beside Louise on the couch.

It didn’t take long to finish up. The statements were an extremely collaborative effort and produced several tidy packages of white lies. Once that was done, Frank and David left, and after a while, Dianna accompanied Josh and Louise to their room. The girls and I sipped our coffee in the living room, and the silence was at least two different kinds of awkward. The four of us were basically fine with everything that had just happened, which wasn’t normal, and we all knew that. Mary and I still weren’t in a great place, and neither Jules nor Amanda seemed eager to attempt small talk or any kind of talk for that matter.

Dianna came back about twenty minutes later. “They seem fine,” she said. “I don’t know if it’s just their way of coping, but they were both incredibly aroused by the experience. We already knew that Louise had a fetish for being forced. It looks like Josh shares that. Had she been raped, things might have been different, but given the circumstances, they got off very lightly. I don’t think I’ll need to see them again, but if you see any issues, let me know and I’ll revisit.”

She was headed toward the door when Jules stopped her and handed her the grimoire.

“Thanks for the loan,” Jules said stiffly.

Dianna looked at her sadly. “Jules,” she said. “I’m sorry.”

“I trusted you,” said Jules, “and you played me, and my family, after we welcomed you into our home. You gave Caleb so much shit about his Compulsion, and yet you used your own power in almost exactly the same way. You manipulated me to get to him.”

“I am so sorry Jules,” said Dianna. “There are so many reasons why I did what I did, and none of them are worth a damn. You are right. I betrayed your and your family’s trust. I promise never to do anything like that again, but I’m sure that means nothing to you right now. You are also right in calling me out for using my power in that way. It was an abuse of my power. If you want to complain to the Bureau, then that is your right. I have no excuses.

“I know that tonight is too soon,” she continued, “but I hope we can talk again, and maybe start to rebuild what I tore down?”

Jules gave a stiff nod and then moved to come and curl up in my lap. I put my arms around her and felt her trembling. The brief confrontation with Dianna had shaken her more than walking in on Louise nearly being raped. I understood completely. Already, Jules was internalizing the idea that Norms just weren’t much of a threat so long as someone with powers was available to help.

Dianna once more made to leave. “You did well tonight,” she said. “I saw the memory you gave to Frank.

“I am proud of you - of you all,” she added as she walked to the door. “Goodnight.” She closed the door softly behind her.

I stared at the closed door, mulling over the events of the evening.

“It’s a good thing we got back in time,” said Jules, obviously doing the same.

“It is,” I said, “but I’m a bit weirded out by Josh and Louis’s reaction.”

Amanda giggled “I saw that,” she said, “Louise looked pissed that you didn’t include her when you made them all hit the deck. That girl has a serious fetish for being controlled.”

I nodded. “I noticed,” I remarked “They want to ‘talk’ with me about it. I suspect I know what that will be about.”

Amanda giggled again. “Are you going to…”

I looked at Mary. “Before today, I would have flat-out refused,” I said, “but I need to train my Compulsion somehow. As long as they are on board, and there are strict safeguards in place, I think I might give them a little of what they want. Besides, I can listen in to their thoughts while it’s happening, so the moment they become uncomfortable with it, I can release them. Mary?”

“It’s up to you,” she replied. “You will have to deal with the consequences.”

“Well let me know what Dianna says when you tell her,” I snapped, getting up and going outside. I needed some space, and the deck needed to be repaired. It didn’t take long to replace all the decking boards, and since the hot tub only weighed in at about twelve hundred pounds empty, I put it back into place before starting to refill it.

My phone rang: Dianna. I wasn’t surprised. I picked up.

“Dianna,” I said in a flat tone.

“Mary called me,” she said without preamble. “She told me about the conversation you had in the car.”

“I’m sure,” I said.

“She also told me about Josh and Louise,” she continued. “I remember what Louise asked you last time. I had a feeling that even our little stunt wouldn’t be enough to deter her for long – especially not now that we know that Josh feels similar… She says you are considering it.”

“What goes on between consenting adults in the privacy of their own home…” I began.

“As long as they are consenting,” she rebuffed.

“So what are you saying, Dianna?” I asked. “Are you saying I should, or shouldn’t, do it?”

“Does it matter what I say?” she asked.

“Frankly? No,” I said, “but it was interesting to see how quickly Mary came running to you. I guess it proves my point.”

“That point being?” she asked.

“Whose side she is on,” I said, “and that I cannot trust her.”

“She was looking out for you,” she said. “Making sure you didn’t do something that would get you into trouble.”

“She was running telling tales to Granny!” I snapped. “So, are you going to arrest me for abuse of power if I decide to go ahead?”

“No,” she said quietly. “As long as you can show the memories of them both agreeing to it, and you can show that you did nothing that they weren’t happy with, there is nothing illegal about using your power in that way. It will even serve to help train your power, as you thought.”

A few seconds passed in silence.

“Caleb, can we talk?” she asked. “Face to face?”

“Is that Agent Everson wanting to talk,” I asked, “or Dianna?”

“Both, actually,” she replied. “Can I come over tomorrow to see you?”

I mulled it over a moment. The FBI was still a possibility, and she was still Amanda’s grandmother.

“What time?” I asked.

“I could be there for ten?”

“Fine.”

“Caleb,” she said. “Don’t be too hard on Mary. She really is trying to look out for you.”

“She is trying to do what all the Eversons do,” I responded.

“And what’s that?” she asked.

“Keep the Stotts in their place,” I said before hanging up the phone.

Since the hot tub was now full, I decided I might as well go and see if Josh and Louise were still awake. I walked through the kitchen into the hall before going and knocking on their door gently. A few seconds later, Louise opened the door, naked.

“I can come back…” I began, but she took my hand and pulled me into their room, closing the door behind me. Josh was laid on the bed, also naked. It appeared that they had been playing, but not seriously. I got the feeling they were saving themselves for something, and I guessed what that something was.

Josh indicated the chair, which had been turned to face the bed, and I sat. They both moved to sit on the edge of the bed, facing me. Neither seemed to be embarrassed in the slightest to be naked in front of me, even though they were both very obviously aroused.

“How are you both doing?” I asked. To an outside observer, it would seem a stupid question, but it had been less than four hours since Louise had almost been raped, and Josh had been forced at gunpoint to watch.

“Caleb,” Louise said, “I know this may sound strange, and I don’t want you to think badly of me - of us - but tonight was the most erotic experience we have ever had. We were almost sorry that you were able to stop them, although when I saw you compelling them, I nearly came. If you had included me, I probably would have.

I looked at Josh, and he was nodding.

“You know Lou had the fantasy of being controlled,” he said. “Well tonight, for her, it came true. When those guys broke in and overpowered us, she just got so hot.”

“But she fought,” I said.

“Of course she did,” he said. “If she had just given in, then it wouldn’t have been real. They had to really overpower her, and me.”

“And what about you?” I asked Josh. “What did you get out of the fantasy?”

He blushed and looked down.

“It was hot to watch her get controlled,” he said, “and I was hoping…” he ground to a halt.

“Hoping what?” I asked.

He looked at Louise, who took his hand.

“He was hoping that they would use him too,” she said. “Or at least force him to ‘clean up’ after them.”

“Then why the call for help?” I asked.

“That was when they first arrived,” he said. “Five guys came in waving guns. I had no idea what was going to happen. But then things went the way they were going, and I guess we got carried away with it.”

“What did you think they were going to do when they had finished with you?” I asked. “Pat you on the head and send you on your way?”

“We kind of didn’t think that far ahead,” said Louise. “We were just caught up in the moment. But that doesn’t matter does it, because you stopped them, and – well, here we are.”

“Here we are,” I repeated.

“Caleb,” said Josh. “You know what we want. Are you going to make us spell it out?”

“That is exactly what you are going to have to do,” I said, “because at some point, someone big and bad is going to come for me and expect me to explain what happened with you two. If I don’t have some very good answers, then I could be in a great deal of trouble.”

“Even if we do,” asked Louise, “how will they know that you weren’t just Compelling us at the time?”

“Because when they see my memory of it,” I explained, “they will see that I wasn’t using any powers, and that I couldn’t see any powers in evidence on you. They will know what I know.”

They both nodded at that, and Josh blushed harder.

Louise started. She looked me squarely in the eye, as though it were the lens of a video camera. That was rather clever, I thought. It was hard to return her gaze. I saw so much sincere desire in it. She was opening herself up completely to me – being vulnerable in a way that I wasn’t even sure the actual Compulsion to come would ever top. Her aura was overwhelmingly purple, but I saw hints of yellow. I knew immediately: she was afraid I’d reject her pleas.

“Caleb,” she said, “I want you to Compel me. I want it to be a part of our sex life – all three of ours, together – until one of us says otherwise. I want to be forced. I want to do anything and everything sexual with both of you because I have no choice – because you’re using your powers to make me do it. God, I’d list it all, but I’m terrified I’d leave things out by accident, or things I haven’t even thought of, but that one of you might!

“I even want you to Compel me to do other stuff – eat right, exercise, dress up, cook and clean for you, service Mary and Amanda, get spanked… god, it would all be sexual. I want you to Compel me to love it even more than I would anyway. I want you to Compel me to have the best orgasms of my life doing all the things that make you two – no, you five - happy. Force me to take engineering lessons from Jules while I’m strung up in a gimp suit! Caleb, please, I’m begging you. I want this so much.”

“For how long?” I asked.

“What?” she asked. “What do you mean?”

“I’m not making you my slave indefinitely just like that, Louise,” I replied. “Let’s take it slow, and start with a short session. We both need to make sure you don’t become a mindless fuck-puppet pet who will never use their safe word and never want to deal with the real world ever again.”

She moaned at that imagery, and her hand moved instinctively to her pussy before she regained control. She looked at Josh. “An hour?” she suggested, and he looked at the clock and nodded.

“For the first time,” he said. “Caleb’s right. It’s not like there’s any real pressure or rush to do something longer-term.”

“I also need your permission to listen in on your thoughts,” I said. “That way, if you change your mind, I will know and can release you. It’s even better than a safe word you have to speak aloud – although you can definitely do that too.”

“Can you make us forget that you are doing that?” she asked. “It would kind of spoil the fantasy if we knew we could break out at any time.”

“I can,” I said. “I guess no traditional safe words, then.”

“Then you have my permission to listen in on my thoughts,” she said, “for the duration of the fantasy.”

I hoped that would be enough to satisfy any ‘audit’ of my actions. I turned to Josh.

“Josh?”

He was blushing hard. Were it not for the fact his manhood was drooling, I would have been suspicious that he was himself being coerced by Louise to go along with this. That had been one hell of a speech she’d given me.

“Caleb,” he said, “I’d also like you to Compel me as part of our sex life for the next hour – just the three of us, though, this time. And, uh, even though Louise’s speech was incredibly hot, I think that all I want to do is the sex stuff – you know, this time. Later on, who knows? But yeah, for the next hour, I’d like you to use your powers to force me to have sex with you and Louise in any and every way you want. Any hole, any cock, fingers, tongues, cum anywhere - force me to eat it from anywhere, too. You can even be rough with me if you want. You can slap me around, push me, spank me, even choke me a little as long as you’re careful about it. I want to feel like I don’t have any choice at all. You can definitely use that TK stuff.”

“Oh my god, YES!” interrupted Louise. “The TK is incredible. Do that… er, I mean, if you want to, you know... Because you’ll be in charge.”

I raised an eyebrow. Josh didn’t seem to mind the interruption. He squeezed Louise’s hand lovingly, and she bit her lip and squirmed.

“And also, yes, you can read my thoughts for the next hour too,” Josh said, “so that you’ll know whether or not I want to keep going. But definitely do that thing where I don’t know it’s happening. I want the fantasy to be as real as possible.”

“So for one hour, right?” I asked again.

“For one hour from when we start,” he confirmed.

I looked back at Louise; her face was flushed. I was almost certain that as soon as I did something - anything - with her, she would come. Josh didn’t seem too far behind. I could tell they were already holding themselves back from mauling each other, or me, or both at once.

I sighed. I still wasn’t completely comfortable. It felt inherently wrong, but I didn’t know how else they could prove to me that they really wanted it. They’d both just confessed to me that an honest-to-goodness attempted rape had turned them on – to the point where they hadn’t even considered the distinct possibility that they would have been murdered afterward. That was troubling, to say the least. It was downright fucked. I wondered if I should be Compelling the two of them to go see a psychiatrist.

I broke it down again in my mind. Unlike the five guys who’d invaded our home, I wouldn’t be murdering either of them. In fact, I’d be bending over backward to make sure they were both safe and happy. I was the gold standard for fulfilling their fantasies with a minimum of risk – and I could hardly overstate how much they both seemed to want it. Their words, their auras, and their bodies were all screaming out the same story. Josh had even established some boundaries for the first session, which I supposed was a good sign.

I kept myself from sighing again. I didn’t want to ruin the moment completely. The two of them were on the edge between two different kinds of frustration – one good, one bad. I made the choice to let the puppet show begin.

“The hour starts now,” I said, then looked squarely at Louise. From that point on, every time I gave one of them a verbal command, I paired it with a mental image of them complying. Sometimes I didn’t even bother speaking aloud. I imagined the pair of them completely ignorant of the fact that I could read their minds – and, as an added flourish, I imagined them being a special kind of clueless when what they wanted just so happened to be what I Compelled them to do. I noted wryly to myself that I was having to think just about as tactically as I would have had to during an FBI operation. It was a bit exhausting, but on the other hand, it was good practice.

“Stand up,” I ordered.

I had been right. Louise stood, but came at exactly the same time, her pussy clenching and drooling her juices down her legs.

I looked at Josh. “Clean that up,” I said. “Use your tongue, but don’t touch her pussy.”

Josh dropped to his knees and began licking the inside of Louise’s legs, lapping up the juices that had flowed out of her when she had come.

I started to see their thoughts - what they wanted me to force them to do. They ranged from vanilla, such as kissing me - they both wanted that - to getting fisted, which it appeared they both wanted too. There were some other things that sounded and looked dangerous that I was definitely going nowhere near. I had already decided that for our first outing I would keep it pretty tame. The Compulsion itself would be the centerpiece. A part of me hoped that that would be enough.

“Josh and Louise are wanting to play with me,” I sent to Amanda and Mary.

“Enjoy,” came back instantly from Amanda, along with a very hefty dose of arousal. I hadn’t expected anything from Mary, but she surprised me with her response.

“Have fun, I love you.” There was love and a little sadness in her response, and that distracted me for a second. It was only when I ‘heard’ Louise wondering what was happening that I remembered where I was and what I was supposed to be doing.

I got on with it.

I made Josh start to undress me while I forced Louise to kiss me. After he got my shirt off, his thoughts directed me to set him licking and sucking at my nipples for a short while. I then had them swap, and while I was battling with Josh’s tongue, Louise was undoing my trousers and divesting me of the rest of my clothes. It seemed a shame to waste her being on her knees, so I forced her to alternate between Josh’s cock and mine, taking us into her mouth and down her throat for a few thrusts before swapping and doing it again. Josh groaned into my mouth, and I wondered what might happen if I let him cum so early into the session. Then I mentally shrugged. Part of the point of the exercise was to practice my Compulsion – to see what it could do. I was fairly certain it could force him to come over and over in some sense. I just wasn’t sure if it could force his refractory period to shorten to the point where he could get completely hard and come again in the normal way. It seemed like a good experiment to conduct.

“Louise, make him cum on your tits.” I said. “The feeling of his cum hitting you will make you come.”

I hardly even needed to command her to come; if anything, I supposed I’d need to start telling her when she couldn’t. She was on fire. The purple in her aura was impossibly rich. I’d never seen anything like it.

Louise knelt up, and, after taking Josh’s cock in her mouth to lubricate it, she trapped it between her C-cup breasts. She pressed them together around his throbbing erection as she drooled spit on it for more lubrication. Then she started to pump her tits up and down, lapping at his head every time it appeared. Josh moaned and began to move his hips, fucking her tits while holding onto her shoulders.

“I want to wank all over her tits.” The thought from Josh prompted my next Compulsion, and therefore his next action. Instead of ordering him aloud, I made him really feel like I was reaching into his mind and making him my puppet. He pulled his cock from between her breasts and pumped it for all he was worth, spurred to new heights by the overtly supernatural turn. It took less than a minute for him to bring himself off, and with the first geyser of jizz painting her proffered chest, Louise convulsed into yet another orgasm.

Josh literally had to chase her down to the floor as she collapsed, pumping his spasming cock, so that his cum continued to land on her tits. When he finished, he wiped off the last drops against her nipple. That sent aftershocks through her, and she moaned again.

I didn’t need to read his mind to see what his next need would be.

“Lick it up,” I ordered.

He was on her so fast, I doubted that the Compulsion had even had time to register the command, let alone force his compliance. He really wanted to do it, and within ten seconds of lapping and slurping at her, cleaning and swallowing all his cum from her chest, his cock was rock hard again. I hadn’t even gotten the chance to try to Compel another erection. To be perfectly honest, I was still so stunned by how into it they both were that I wasn’t doing a great job of playing the role of the twisted psychic rapist.

For her part, Louise was wriggling and groaning, feeling his tongue on her tits, jerking with aftershocks every time he licked or sucked at her nipple. She was just on the edge of it being pleasurable or too much.

In answer to her next need, I knelt by her head.

“Suck!” I commanded.

Her mouth closed around the head of my cock, and she began taking as much of it into her mouth as she could from that angle. It wasn’t easy, and as soon as Josh finished his cleanup, I directed her once again to her knees so she could get her mouth on me properly. Josh, I tasked with licking and sucking my balls.

“Your ass,” I heard from him. “Force me to lick your ass.”

I startled for a moment, wondering if my Compulsion had failed. I probed his mind, but I detected no awareness of my Telepathy. I didn’t really know what to make of that. My best guess was that his intense, sexual hopes and desires were manifesting as commands without him even realizing it. For some reason, that made me feel aggressive – offended, even. I decided to make him wait for what he wanted.

I kept him where he was for a minute or two. Louise was very pleased to be doing what she was doing, although she would have preferred me to be a little rougher with her. I put my hands on her head and began fucking her face.

Finally, I ordered Josh to move behind me and tongue my asshole. He hurried to comply, but I decided that his best wasn’t good enough. I used my TK to swat his ass a few times. His yelp of surprise melted into a groan.

The feeling of his tongue slithering over, around, and then starting to push into my ass very nearly made me come. I had to block the impulses in order to hold off. I glanced at the clock and realized we had only been playing for about twenty minutes. There was still some time to go.

I pulled my cock out of Louise’s mouth with a pop, and used TK to push Josh away from behind me.

I needed some cooldown time, so I decided to set them to play with each other. Louise wanted something inside of her. Pussy or ass, she didn’t care. She preferred a cock, but she would settle for fingers or even a tongue.

Josh seemed to be developing a thing for rimming, so I had Louise bend over the bed. Once again his tongue was up an asshole, but this time, he added two fingers in Louise’s pussy. He wasn’t allowed to stop until she came twice. I moved up the bed and once again captured her mouth in a kiss, controlling her breath. I weaved my fingers into her hair and grabbed, hard, making sure she knew that my hands were occupied. Then I started working her breasts with my TK, rolling and pinching her nipples. I felt her first orgasm rock through her, but Josh didn’t stop. If anything, he increased his stimulation, literally tongue-fucking her asshole and pumping three fingers into her soaking quim, which made wet, squelching sounds as she writhed and twitched.

Louise started to make keening noises as she built to her fourth orgasm, and I didn’t want to disturb the household, so once again I shoved my cock down her throat. I held it there, cutting off her air as she slurped and swallowed at my prick. For good measure, I used my TK to lock her arms behind her back, as though she were cuffed. My precum added to the saliva drooling from her lips. When Josh got her to the very edge of her orgasm, I pulled back, allowing her to pull in a desperate lungful of air. The oxygen rush hit, and she came hard. She squirted a gallon of juices over Josh’s chest and belly, which ran down over his rampant cock and down to his thighs before dripping to the floor.

Since she had had her two orgasms, Josh stopped, and I made him lie down on the bed. Louise was still disoriented due to her orgasm, but I freed her arms and made her start to lick up all her juices from him. She started on his thighs, lapping and slurping her cum off him until he was just covered in a shiny coat of her spit. She skipped his groin, obviously saving that for last, before moving up his belly, to his chest, licking and cleaning him there as well. All the time that was going on, I was standing over Josh’s head, my cock on his face as he lapped at it from beneath. I wouldn’t let him take it into his mouth, but the feeling of him licking the underside, from my balls all the way to the top, was awesome, especially when he concentrated on that tiny area just under the head. Beads of precum drooled onto his tongue, and he lapped those up eagerly before moving back down my shaft towards my balls again.

I toyed with the idea of fucking Josh again, but remembered what his main fantasy had been this evening. Once Louise had licked up all her cum from him, with the exception of his cock and balls, I had her sixty-nine him so she could finish up doing that and then take him in her mouth and suck him. Once she was in position, I stepped up behind her. In a single thrust, I shoved my cock all the way into her soaking channel, stopping only when my balls slapped against her clit.

Louise squealed, cumming again from the sudden penetration. Josh was alternating between lapping at her clit and slathering my balls with saliva while I ground into her, pushing as deep as I could get. I thought about restraining her arms again, but she’d gripped onto Josh’s thighs, and I rather liked that visual.

With everything in place to my satisfaction, I began. Slowly at first, I pulled almost all the way out, and Josh lapped at the underside of my cock before I slammed back into her. The strength of my thrust pushed her forward, forcing Josh’s cock deeper into her mouth. She had told me previously that she wasn’t able to deep-throat him. That was about to change.

I made her relax her throat more as I pulled back for another thrust. His cock went another quarter inch and her eyes bulged. I had completely killed her gag, so there was no chance of her puking on him.

I pulled back once more, giving her the chance to get a breath of air, and then gave her another hard, deep thrust. Josh’s cock went all the way down her throat, and my cock was pushed into her pussy as deep as I could get it. I held there for nearly thirty seconds before withdrawing again. It was time.

I pulled back on her hips, pulling his cock out of her throat and allowing her another lungful of air, and then began to stroke in and out of her. She started to bob her mouth up and down on Josh’s cock, as I began to fuck her in earnest, pounding my cock in and out of her depths. Squirts of juice shot from her soaking channel over Josh’s face. Josh was doing his best to keep licking both my cock and her clit, depending on what was within reach at the time.

I saw Josh begin to meet her with his hips, and I made him put his hands on her head, once more forcing himself deeper into her throat, which was what she wanted. I already knew what Josh wanted, and I was close to giving it to him.

For a bit of variety, I pulled all the way out of Louise and shoved my cock into his mouth, forcing him to suck me for a few strokes before pulling back and once more plunging into her steaming depths. I could feel my orgasm start to build. This was my time, and I decided to make Josh work solely on me until I had given him what he wanted.

He started to lap at my balls, and then just behind them. He couldn’t reach my asshole with his tongue, but he wetted a couple of fingers and started to massage me with those as I fucked his girlfriend and he sucked at my tightening balls. Just to make sure he didn’t forget who was in charge, I began teasing his asshole – and Louise’s too – with my TK. They both groaned submissively.

Louise was once again heading toward her next climax, and I sped up, wanting us to hit at more or less the same time. Josh had one hand on the back of her head, face fucking her, while I was slamming repeatedly into her pussy. Another request from Louise, and I brought my hand down with a resounding smack on her ass. If she hadn’t had Josh’s cock shoved down her throat, I would bet they would have heard her shriek all the way down the block. As it was, she just let out a muffled wail, and her pussy started to clench and spasm around my cock. That, and the fingers that Josh had shoved into me, were too much, and I lost it. I spewed rope after rope of my thick creamy load deep into Louise’s slurping cunt.

I held still, enjoying the sensation of her cumming on my spasming cock, all while Josh was licking and slurping at my balls until I was drained. I pulled back, allowing my softening cock to slide out of Louise, and made Josh take it in his mouth to clean off our combined juices. All the time I made sure Louise didn’t push any of my load out of her pussy. That was all for Josh. Once I was clean, and his ministrations were beginning to get a little uncomfortable, I backed away, and made Louise bring her cunt right down over him. He fastened his mouth over her pussy and she bore down.

Josh’s eyes widened as he got a huge mouthful of mine and Louise’s cum. His cheeks bulged and I made him swallow it down, ready for the next one.

I could tell he was right there at the edge. With a wicked grin, I used my TK, but bypassed his asshole completely - all the better to surprise him. I found his prostate, and, with the incredibly fine control that I’d developed right along with my strength those past few weeks, I enveloped it with a psychic hand, squeezed just enough, and then made that hand vibrate.

Josh screamed so loudly into Louise’s pussy that I was sure he could feel it in the tip of his own cock. He bucked like a madman; Louise rode him with her mouth and throat like a champion. The realization of his fantasy pushed him over the edge to his second huge orgasm of the session; he was blasting his red-hot seed into his girlfriend’s throat and down into her belly, and I was making sure he wouldn’t have a single drop left inside of him. Eventually, Louise lifted her mouth just enough so that she could save some for later.

Josh continued to suck Louise’s cunt until he had gotten everything she had to offer. She even pushed her fingers inside herself to scoop out the last drops, wiping them onto his tongue, which he obligingly stuck out for her.

The final surprise for him was when she dismounted and turned around. She kissed him, forcing her mouthful of his cum into his mouth, making him swallow all of that too. She held the kiss until there was no cum left and they were both breathless.

I laid them down, side by side, and released them from my control before glancing at the clock. Fifty-eight minutes. Perfect timing.

I sat down in the chair, waiting for them to recover, hoping that I hadn’t done any damage. I had been watching them closely, and everything I had had them do had been what they’d wanted. Their reactions to each new action and sensation had also been positive, but this was the first time I had done anything like this, and I was still nervous.

As expected, Louise was the first to speak.

“Fuck!” she said.

“Fuck,” Josh agreed.

“Fuck,” she reiterated.

“Fuck,” he echoed.

“Are you guys okay?” I asked, somewhere between amused and concerned.

“Define ‘okay,’” said Josh.

“Fuck,” added Louise helpfully.

“I thought that we would never have an experience as good as when we shared with you guys,” said Josh, “but that – was – biblical.”

“Fuck,” Louise commented.

“Lou, are you all right?” I asked. I was actually starting to get a little worried I had done something to her brain.

“Promise me,” she said finally, to my relief, “that we can do that again.”

“Not tonight,” I said, and she giggled.

“No,” she said, “Not tonight. I’m sure if you Compelled us to, we could but… Fuck!”

I chuckled.

“Not every night,” I said. “You guys need some time alone, but yes, if you are up for it then we can maybe do it again. Perhaps one of the twins might be persuaded to join us if you would like that.”

Louise finally roused herself enough to sit up.

“Thank you, Caleb,” she said. “That was amazing. It was everything I had hoped it would be, but it also left something for next time.”

I raised an eyebrow. “Notes?”

She shook her head. “I would never, Caleb,” she said. “That was… fuck.” She smiled knowingly at that one. “I’m just saying that I’m not out of ideas.”

I recalled her speech. It seemed an understatement.

She climbed off the bed and came over to me, sitting on my lap and putting her arms around me, both of us still naked. She gave me a tender kiss.

“Thank you,” she said again.

Josh looked over and smiled wearily. “It’s too far for me to come all the way over there,” he moaned. “Give him one for me.”

Louise chuckled and gave me another, deeper, kiss. “Thanks,” she said. “From Josh.” I laughed.

She stood up, allowing me to escape.

“I’ll leave you guys to get sorted,” I said. “I need a shower.”

Josh waved a leaden hand at me while Louise helped me to gather my clothes. I didn’t bother redressing, I was only going to be getting naked again anyway, so with a final goodnight, I padded from their room and into ours.

Jules and the twins were still in the living room, so I had the room to myself. I showered, and then, hungry from using my powers, I went into the kitchen to find myself a snack. I’d just learned that Compelling two people for an hour was just as taxing as using my TK – well, it was for the time being anyway. It was another muscle to start exercising.

+++++

Four o’clock rolled around once more, and even though I hadn’t set an alarm, my bladder woke me perfectly on time. After my morning ritual, I quietly made my way through the house and out onto the deck to train.

I picked up the hot tub with my TK. I calculated that its weight when full would be somewhere between eight and ten thousand pounds. I held it a bare eighth of an inch off the deck. That way, nobody would be able to see what I was doing, and if for some reason I dropped it - although so far that had never happened - neither it nor the deck would suffer any damage.

I ran through all of my martial arts katas. My body practically moved of its own accord, being so used to the moves. This was the muscle memory that James had been talking about. I needed more memories to work with, though, and so needed to find another trainer.

It was nearly eight before anyone else stirred. Jules brought out a glass of juice and a cup of coffee.

“What do you want to do for breakfast?” she asked.

I definitely wanted breakfast. I was really hungry, and couldn’t understand why until I remembered the hot tub. I had been holding it up for four hours solid. It wasn’t causing me any difficulties. In fact, I had forgotten it was there, but I had burned through a heck of a lot of energy. I wasn’t just hungry. I was starving.

“Are the others up?” I asked.

“The twins are,” she said. “Josh and Louise haven’t surfaced yet.” She grinned at me. “I guess you wore them out.”

“Let’s go to the diner,” I said. “I don’t think there’s enough food in the house for what I need for breakfast.”

“Do you think there’ll be enough food in the diner?” she asked cheekily, and I laughed.

“Seriously though,” I said, “it’s a good thing Pops gave me that money. Otherwise, I would be struggling with the amount of food I need these days.”

She smiled softly at me. “I like that,” she said.

“What?” I asked, not realizing what I had said.

“That you call Daddy ‘Pops’,” she answered. “It feels right.”

“I was worried about ‘sharing’ with them,” I said. “Worried that it would upset the dynamic, and create some weird kind of vibe in our relationship - not only with them but with you and Ness as well. But it didn’t. I can’t explain what it did do, but whatever it did, it made me feel as close to them as I do to my own parents – closer, even. Right now I trust your parents a damn sight more than I trust mine.”

She smiled and gave me a hug. Her smile slipped a little.

“You stink,” she complained. “Go shower, then let’s go eat.”

When we got to the diner, I was just about to order when I saw a poster on their wall for a food challenge they had set. It cost forty dollars, and you had to finish it in less than an hour. As yet it was unbeaten. If you did, not only did you get your picture on the wall of fame and a T-shirt, but the meal was free.

I grinned.

When the tray came out there was enough food on it to feed everyone at the table – well, everyone else. It was piled high with sausage patties, eggs, bacon, beans, hash browns, and pancakes. You name it, it was on the plate. The waitress took one look at me and shook her head. Even Jules, used to seeing the huge portions served up at her house, looked on a little dubiously.

“Ready?” the waitress said, placing a timer on the table. I nodded and she started the clock.

I was already wearing the T-shirt by the time the others, who had had to move to a different table so I wouldn’t cheat, had finished their far less substantial breakfasts. It had taken me twenty-two minutes and ten seconds to clear the plate. If I was completely honest, I could have eaten something more. I toyed with the idea of getting a piece of pie but thought that would be pushing it.

“Well,” I said to the girls as we walked back to the house, “if nothing else works out, I could always get into competitive eating.”

Jules and Amanda both laughed, and Mary just looked on.

I had told Jules that Dianna was due at ten, but she hadn’t let me know if she was ready to talk to her yet. I didn’t pressure her either way; it was up to her. When we heard Dianna’s car pull up just before ten, Jules went to her room and closed the door. That answered that.

The twins had decided that it would be better if they made themselves scarce too, and so they had gone out shopping. That left just Dianna and me, sitting across from each other at the dining room table. I made coffee, and we each held a mug. She cut to the chase.

“I heard that the NSA has made you an offer,” she said. “They are background checking you, and you know they won’t find a problem. Maggie wants to know if you are set on working for them, and what we might do to change your mind.”

“I have some thoughts about that,” I said, “but I would like to discuss those with her directly. I do, however, have some things I would like to discuss with you. I presume that you would be in my chain of command if I were to work for the FBI?”

She nodded. “Frank runs the local section, and you know that means I run the section.”

“I know that there are a lot of things I could have - no, should have done differently,” I said. “That if I hadn’t behaved as I did, then maybe you wouldn’t have done what you did. You were pushing me, and I didn’t come out looking too good. But then, when I pushed back, neither did you.

“Before I will consider even talking to Maggie, I need your promise to leave the girls out of it. I’m not talking about the training scenarios. I recognize that Maggie was right in what she said about taking the hits. I mean about our personal relationship being totally separate from our working relationship.

“I couldn’t stand to see the girls - any of them - hurt like that again. I take the brunt of the responsibility for that hurt, but you have to take some of it too. You, however, are one hundred percent responsible for the pain that Jules felt.

“The twins need you in their lives. I think Jules would like to know the you that you are when you are not scheming, and so would I. Can you be that person for them, for us?”

“I can try to be,” she said, showing more honesty in those five words than I had seen from her in a long time.

“It’s going to take some time before Jules trusts you,” I said. “Before I trust you. Everything nice you do, at least for a while, is going to be suspect, and if I ever see you abuse your power again as you did at the Steadman’s I will file a complaint with the Bureau - just as you would if you saw me abuse mine.” I added that last bit to try and soften the tone.

“That’s fair,” she said. “I did wonder if you were going to do that in any case.”

“I wasn’t,” I said. “I don’t know if Jules is considering it, or if she has spoken to her parents about it. You would have to speak to her. But YOU talk to her. Don’t get the twins to do it. That would just look like more manipulation.”

She nodded. “Will you sit in,” she asked, “so she knows you can protect her from me?”

“If she wants,” I said. “I’ll leave you to talk to Mary and Amanda. You need to make your peace with them.” I sighed. “The thing is, even as I sit here and say that I am dreading leaving you alone with them, scared witless that you are going to find some way to persuade them back to you - to take them from me again. I’m trying to do what’s right but terrified that I’m making the biggest mistake of my life. Mary is already firmly in your camp it seems, but poor Amanda is being pulled in all directions.”

A tear rolled down her cheek. “I’m so sorry,” she said. “I did that to you. From the beginning, you were a new power that had to be nurtured and developed but also controlled. Getting the girls to take you to bed, as you suspected, was a part of that. They were up for it, of course. Mary was already ready to jump into bed with you in any case, and Amanda loved you on sight.

“I hope that you believe that I didn’t expect the bond. I would never have done that to my girls. If I’d had even the slightest suspicion that that would happen, I wouldn’t have let them anywhere near you. But once you were bonded, it seemed like such an easy way forward. Maggie was delighted that we had such a tight hold on you. She never dreamed that you would either seek out another agency or that you would have the determination to sever the bond rather than submit.

“Yes, you messed up - so many things - but one thing you did that was pure genius - although whether by accident or design, I guess I will never know: you never once made a threat. So many people in your position would have threatened retribution - especially given your power - and yet you never did. Yes, there was the threat to my girls, but that wasn’t seen as a direct threat - more as collateral damage. There was never any concern that you would go rogue, and therefore, in all the meetings we had about you - and believe me, there were many - nobody ever even raised the possibility of elimination.”

“So that wasn’t a veiled threat by David Spencer then?” I asked.

She looked puzzled, and I showed her the memory of the conversation we had had outside the hospital, where he mentioned the fifty-caliber bullet.

“He was certainly not asked to say that,” she said, “and, knowing him, I am prepared to bet it was a genuine part of what you were talking about. I don’t think it would even enter his mind to make such a threat.

“Caleb,” she said, “I know you won’t believe me, but I am sorry. I hope that we can find some way back.”

“So do I,” I said, and I meant it.

“What you said last night,” she said, “about our family wanting to keep yours down. It isn’t true, you know.”

“All the evidence says otherwise,” I said.

“Doubtless it was true in the beginning,” she responded, “and for good reason. If you look back at what they were doing, your ancestors perpetrated some real atrocities on those around them - but that was then, and that wasn’t you.

“Back then, the Eversons did just want to protect people, and so measures were put in place. That was over three hundred years ago. There has been a version of the amulet for almost one hundred and fifty years, although for most of that time it was itself a Compulsion that had to be renewed on a monthly basis.”

“So, you had us crippling our own children every month?” I asked.

“Not crippling,” she insisted. “Protecting. They needed to be protected from themselves. You saw what Davey Vardy was doing, and how quickly that would have become a serious problem. You might even say it already had.”

“Even if I accept the need for the amulet,” I said, “and I am by no means saying I do, why the ignorance? What is gained by keeping the kids totally ignorant of their powers? Why not start to teach them so that when their powers are available they will have some idea of what to do?”

“It was the second line of defense in case the block or amulet failed,” she said. “It was argued that if they didn’t know about their powers, they would be less likely to use them in the time it would take for us to spot that failure and do something about it.

“With you, it was a double whammy,” she said with a small smile. “You burned out your amulet, and your ass fetish caused you to realize that there was something going on. Most take at least a week to figure out what you got from one glimpse of Angela’s butt.

“We’re not your enemy, Caleb,” she said. “Not anymore. We have been working together for at least five generations. Maggie is your bloodline. The majority of ‘rogues’ these days aren’t even Stotts anymore - just bastard offspring and genetic anomalies.”

“The crippling of our children needs to stop,” I said. “Every other bloodline is allowed to grow into their powers, and you know as well as I do that Empathy and Telepathy can be as effective at controlling people as Compulsion, and TK’s so close to being a loaded gun it beggars belief that nobody took it as seriously.”

“That has been a topic of much debate,” she said. “Probably for the last fifty years. Things will change Caleb, but it will take time.”

“Nobody will be putting an amulet on any child of mine,” I declared flatly.

She sighed at that. “We hopefully have some time before that becomes an issue,” she said. “Don’t forget, they will be Mary and Amanda’s children too. Don’t they get a say?”

“No!” I said. “They don’t. An abusive parent does not get a say in the care of their child, and as far as I am concerned, what you do to them, and what you did to me, was abuse. I might as well have grown up with a blindfold on, not knowing that I had the ability to see. Not to mention the mental crippling the amulet did to me outside of limiting my power. How much more could I have achieved if I had had access to my natural intelligence and memory?

“And right now, the likelihood of Mary and I ever having children is remote. The bond is forcing us to be together - that, and her relationship with Amanda. Don’t even get me started on how they view Jules.”

“How is it that you accept Amanda’s love as real, but not Mary’s?” she asked, a pained expression on her face.

“Because Amanda is such a pure soul,” I said. “Even outside the bond, I see her love, not just for me, but for everyone. Yes, she has made mistakes - haven’t we all - but the things she did were instantaneous reactions. Her motivation was always to relieve the suffering of those around her. Mary is far more calculating. Everything she does has a motive, a reason. In short, she is much more like you. I don’t trust you, and I don’t trust her. The emotions shown to me by the bond might be real, but they also might be a Compulsion, or even just an illusion, although I doubt that last one, since I know what I feel for them. Until I can be one hundred percent sure that the emotions we all feel within the bond are true, I can’t trust her.”

She nodded sadly and then stood up. “I think more time needs to pass before I speak to Jules, but will you give her this for me please?” She pulled out an old and battered book.

“What is it?” I asked.

“It’s the diary of Martha Broom,” she said, “the person who created the bond. She wanted to know more about her. I did some digging and came across that. I know she’ll be suspicious, but that can’t be helped. I hope it helps her find what she is looking for.

“When do you want to speak to Maggie?” she asked.

“I have exams for the next three days,” I said, and then added, “is reading the lecturer’s mind considered cheating?”

“Only if you get caught,” she replied with a small smile.

“Friday?” I suggested.

“Fine,” she said. “I’ll get her to come and…”

“Wouldn’t it be better for me to go to her?” I interrupted her. “Show a little humility?”

She opened her mouth, and then closed it again. “Okay,” she said with a wry smile, “that’s a nice twist. I’ll make the appointment.”

“Thanks,” I said. Then a thought occurred to me. “One question.”

“Go on,”

“What if I had been gay?”

I could see she didn’t understand.

“You brought your granddaughters to seduce me,” I said, “but who would you have brought along if I had been gay? Who was the sacrifice in that case?”

I could see the wheels turning. She had already admitted so much. In the end, she decided to go with the truth. “Heath,” she said. “He’s the girls’ cousin on their mother’s side. Just turned nineteen. Blond-haired, blue-eyed heartbreaker.”

“Is he gay?” I asked. “Or just prepared to take one for the team?”

“He’s undecided at the moment,” she said, “but he was up for meeting you if it turned out you weren’t interested in the twins.”

I shook my head, almost sorry I had asked.

“That was back then,” she said. “Can we start fresh?”

“I hope so,” I said as we walked to the front door.

I watched her get into her car and drive away. When I closed the door and turned around, Jules was standing, watching me.

“Well,” said Jules, “I don’t see any blood…”

I laughed.

“What did she say?” she asked. It was easier to just share the memory, and so I did.

“Jesus,” she said. “It’s screwed up that they had someone lined up for you if you had turned down the twins - especially since even he isn’t sure he is gay.”

“I have to say that that does nothing to improve my impression of their family,” I said. “However, I am trying to draw a line under the past and move forward.”

“You think she can be trusted?” asked Jules.

“Right now?” I said. “No. But I’m prepared to give her the opportunity to earn my trust.”

“Can I see the book?” Jules asked, and I handed her the diary.

She flicked through it, and then took it to a chair and sat down to read.

I decided that doing some last-minute studying for my upcoming exams might be a good idea, so I hit the books.

Neither Mary nor Amanda asked about Dianna’s visit when they returned from shopping. I wondered if they had spoken to her directly, or if Dianna had met up with them after leaving me. Amanda had come in and given Jules, and then me, a hug, before grabbing her own books and starting to read. Mary just regarded us both sadly before moving out onto the deck and setting up on a chair out there.

I went out to talk to her, and she looked up at me as I closed the kitchen door.

“I take it you and Dianna spoke?” I asked her, and she nodded.

“We met for coffee after she left you,” she said. “And shared your ‘talk.’”

“I figured she would,” I said.

“What you said to her hurts, Caleb,” she said. “All I ever did was love you.”

“No, Mary,” I responded gently, “what you did was try to manipulate me. You may or may not have fallen for me in the process, or that may just be the bond’s influence, but your primary motivation in getting to know me wasn’t love.

“I remember how you looked at me at my birthday party when I took Harold down,” I said, “and how you looked at me in my room afterward. You had fire – and I’m not talking metaphorically. There was real fire in your eyes. It was scary, and then you demanded answers like you had some kind of right to do so.

“You appear to have subscribed to the Everson ethos that we Stotts need to be kept in line, and it’s your job to do it. Well, it isn’t happening. I won’t be subjugated by Maggie, nor by Dianna, and certainly not by you. If you loved me as much as you claim, that thought would be as abhorrent to you as it is to me. We are supposed to be partners, not jailer and inmate.”

“I do love you,” she protested. “All I was trying to do was to help you. Anyone who had powers could have come along and controlled you, then used you for their own gain. You needed to be protected.”

“And your method of protection was to deliver me into the hands of someone else who wanted to control me?” I asked. “But that was all right because they were the good guys? Well let me tell you, when I saw Jules reduced to a drooling zombie by Dianna, those guys didn’t look very good to me.

“You picked your side, Mary, and it wasn’t mine. I really don’t know where we go from here. I love you, but that could just be the bond talking. I don’t trust that love any more than I trust your love for me. Even with the bond, I trust my feelings toward Amanda far more, and because of my love for her, I would never try to come between you two. Even without the bond, if it were just her and me, and us at odds, we’d be some kind of stuck.

“I really hope that your feelings are true, because once again poor Jules is innocent in this. She loves you, and that’s a fact – no bond, no Compulsion. I see your love for her, but it’s like you have no idea how to express it properly for a Norm. She’s less-than. I don’t even have a word for that kind of love. I’ve seen people stick up for their dogs and cats more than you stuck up for her when Dianna drugged her.”

“I offered for you to read my mind,” she said, “to find out for yourself.”

“Even if I were willing,” I replied, “your actions have already spoken louder than your thoughts ever could, Mary. There’s something wrong with the way you love Jules, and even me. It’s not a lie, because you believe it, so what would probing your mind accomplish?

“And I wouldn’t be,” I insisted. “Nobody should get to know literally everything about another person – every secret, every one of their friends’ secrets, every dark corner that even the person themselves doesn’t care to explore. The only way it could even begin to be fair is if we all did it to each other, and I still don’t like it. Trust matters. Trust is built. Some of the most important moments are when everything in your memories and mind are telling you to break it or just walk away, but you find the strength to change, right then and there, and build it up instead. Everybody deserves those chances, Mary. You’re the last person I’d want to take them away from right now, too, because I do love you, and, if you truly want to make things right with me and Jules, then you really need them.”

She looked down. “Do you want me to move into one of the other rooms?” she asked quietly.

“That would just punish Amanda and Jules,” I said. “I’m starting to feel that we’re like a married couple only staying together for the kids. They need you, and yes, I need you. It would break everyone’s heart, including mine, if you were to do that. Whether it’s real or Compelled, I love you, and it hurts me to be suspicious of you. I really wish we had never bonded.”

She stiffened, but I didn’t give her a chance to respond.

“Because,” I continued, “if we weren’t, and I could be sure that the love I am feeling for you and the love I can feel from you are genuine, then we would be unstoppable. If I were certain of that love, then everything you did that I disagreed with I would be able to look at in the light of that love and accept that you genuinely thought you were acting in my best interests. I might not agree with what you did, but your motivations would be pure, like Amanda’s, and I could accept the mistakes you make - the mistakes we all make.

“If only,” I repeated, “I could be sure of that love.”

The back door opened, and Jules and Amanda emerged onto the deck. Jules had tears running down her face. Amanda looked concerned, but didn’t seem to know why Jules was crying.

“Jules?” I said, getting up, but she shook her head.

“It’s so sad,” she said, indicating the diary. She sat down on one of the chairs, obviously wanting to tell us all about it. It would have been quicker and easier to just share her memory, but I sensed that she needed to ‘unload’ and tell us what she had found.

Amanda sat beside Jules as she began the tale of Martha Broom.

*****

Martha Broom was born in the late eighteenth century, the daughter of Abraham Broom and Elizabeth Stott. She was discovered to have Compulsion, and, since back then there were no such things as amulets, she was brought into the household of Temperance Everson so that she could be controlled until she was old enough to be trusted with her powers.

That was when she met Temperance’s son, Edward. He was a year older than her, and they grew up almost as siblings. Martha had begun keeping a diary on her fourteenth birthday. The book itself was a present from Edward. The very first entry she made was how she knew that she and Edward would one day be married.

Martha was a very clever girl, and the next couple of years’ worth of entries - aside from her entries regarding Edward - were all about how she was developing in her power. At Temperance’s direction, she was using it to help those who had been wronged. By the time she was sixteen, she was fully grown into her powers and ready to step into adulthood. She had also begun to research the rituals that were abundant at the time, finding most to be no more than superstition, but discovering one or two that had real power. She didn’t document which – at least not in her diary.

In those days, apparently, girls as young as twelve and boys as young as fourteen could get married with their parent’s permission, but Temperance, as her name implied, was of the opinion that children were not ready for marriage until they were over the age of twenty-one, and so she would not have given her permission for either her son, Edward, or her ward, Martha, to marry until then. She did, however, share Martha’s wish for them to be married, thinking to more closely bind the Stott and Everson bloodlines.

Edward, for his part, had no idea that Martha was in love with him. As a weak Empath he could see her love for him, but he likened it to his love for her, because he did love Martha, but as a sister. Although he was aware of his mother’s plans for them to wed, he had decided that he was going to *********** his own bride. It was two weeks after Martha’s sixteenth birthday that he confided to the girl he had grown up with, whom he looked on as a sister and also his best friend, that he had fallen in love.

Martha was devastated.

Sarah Miller was a girl Edward had met when he had gone into town on an errand. She was a Norm whose father owned the store in town, and they had been speaking for a few weeks each time he had had to go to the store for his mother.

Edward begged Martha to keep his secret, and she confided to her diary her plans for dealing with Sarah. She hatched several schemes that had Sarah Compelled to do various things, from cheating on Edward with all the men in the town to committing suicide. But every plan was discarded because she knew that they would break Edward’s heart, and she couldn’t do that to the man she loved.

For a year, Edward and Sarah courted in secret. Martha often assisted with alibis and distractions. On his eighteenth birthday, Edward approached his mother and asked her permission to marry. Temperance was incensed, and forbade any further contact between Edward and Sarah, assuring him that it was for his own good and that he would be married when he was twenty-one to the woman that she, Temperance, had ***********ed for him.

A week later, Martha caught Edward packing his things. The reason was obvious. She couldn’t let him leave. Even if he were to be married to someone else, she needed him to be close. If they couldn’t be married to each other, then she would have to settle for being his best friend, but she needed him in her life, and she convinced him to give her some time. She told him she had a way to convince his mother to allow he and Sarah to marry. Finally, Edward agreed, and Martha started work on her plan.

Martha created the bond. It took her less than a month to formulate the ritual that would bind two people so completely that they could not be separated. She knew that once that was in place, Edward’s mother would have no option but to capitulate and allow them to marry. She didn’t say much about the ritual itself, other than the fact that everyone involved must be willing.

Exactly a month after Martha had persuaded Edward not to leave, she sat them both down and explained her plan, the ritual, and what it entailed.

Sarah was mortified when she found out that she would have to give herself to Edward before they were wed, and the revelation that Martha would also have to be present was too much for her. She fled the room. The diary made mention of several failed attempts by Edward to reach out to her in person. Quite appropriate to the times, what eventually got through to her was a letter, meticulously planned and penned by her genteel love. Apparently, the gesture was enough to reopen the door, and eventually, Sarah came to realize that there was no other choice if she wanted to spend the rest of her life with Edward.

The two of them agreed to Martha’s plan. The three of them carried out the ritual, and the bond between Edward and Sarah was forged. The diary entry declaring success was a terrible storm of pride, vindication, defiance, and heartbreak.

Both families were incandescent with rage.

Sarah’s father, on finding out his daughter had been defiled, brought a number of his relatives to Temperance’s house meaning to lynch Edward. It took a good deal of persuasion and some subtle use of her powers, and some of Martha’s too before they could be convinced not to string him up. Instead of being lynched, Sarah and Edward were both marched into the town, placed in front of a justice of the peace, and wed.

Edward was delighted with the outcome, and thanked Martha over and over again, hugging her to him while she sobbed, her heart breaking at the final, formal loss of the man she loved.

Martha didn’t escape Temperance’s wrath either. She couldn’t be put out; her power made her far too dangerous for that, but she was beaten bloody after being forced to eat a root that temporarily robbed her of her powers. For three months she was dosed. The root not only suppressed her powers but kept her nauseated and in pain almost constantly.

Sarah and Edward moved into the town to help her father run the store, but they had only been married six months when Sarah, for reasons not known to Martha, died. The pain of the separation inflicted by the bond was so intense that, less than twenty-four hours after his bride’s death, Edward took his own life.

When Martha discovered what happened, she realized instantly that she had been responsible for her one true love’s death and was inconsolable. Temperance, who was even more furious with Martha now that her son had been taken from her, once again dosed Martha and beat her. Martha couldn’t even muster any outrage or sense of injustice. Her secret diary spoke of a punishment completely deserved, but still not enough.

Martha’s last entry was on her eighteenth birthday, exactly four years after her first. In it, she apologized to everyone for the damage she had caused. She warned others to never use her ritual, knowing how it had been responsible for the death of her love, and then she said goodbye.

*****

There was a post-it note stuck to the final page, beneath the last entry.

Martha Broom died fourteenth June, eighteen hundred and three, aged eighteen years. She was found by her guardian, hanging from an apple tree in the family orchard. – Dianna.

Everyone’s eyes were wet, including mine. My heart went out to the poor girl whose life had been cut so short, and whose love had gone unrequited. My sadness even overwhelmed my usual rush to condemn her obvious misdeeds.

I looked at Jules, who had dried her tears, although she still looked as though she might start crying again at any time.

“Does this help any?” I asked.

She shook her head. “Not really,” she said. “The diary says that all participants in the ritual needed to be willing, but willing to do what? Since you guys didn’t even know about the bond, how could you have been willing to be bonded? It could mean that you were just willing to have sex so that someone couldn’t be raped into the bond. Or it could mean that you were willing to be committed to each other.

“You said that you had such thoughts beforehand - that you had known you wanted the girls in your life going forward, yes?”

I nodded. “But I don’t know if that was my own thought, or something given to me.”

“Look now,” she said. “Re-examine the memory. With what you know now, surely you can tell the difference between something you thought and something that was fed to you? Remember your feelings then. Was anyone using their power on you at that time?”

I did what she said. I remembered that Saturday morning: how Dianna had sent me back to my room with the twins to be ‘drained’, and how they had set about the task with relish. I felt power flaring and a connection to the twins just before the thought had occurred to me that I wanted them in my life long-term.

I sighed and was about to tell Jules that I had been manipulated - that the flare of power proved it. I looked at that power, trying to see who it was that had done it. I strongly suspected it had been Mary, and my mouth went dry. Neither Mary nor Amanda had been using their power.

The power I had felt flaring had been mine.
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