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Age Of Aquarius - Book 1

Harmonic Dissonance - Chapter 4

Mira verified her watch to the wall clock. 10:07am. Why are planes never on time? She resumed her impatient study of the airplanes taxiing in from the runways looking for the TMC jet. Her thoughts were disrupted by the approach of her morning's annoyance. This guy just doesn't give up.

Her headache was a tall, almost attractive executive in an Armani suit. His attitude was one of supreme confidence and a total lack of self-awareness. Talking on his cell phone as he came up beside Mira, he tried to look interested in something out the window. "Jack, I told you: two thousand shares. Yes, I know they are $56 a share." He smiled at Mira with the last statement. She sighed inwardly and tried to ignore him. "Yeah, the jet is late. Uh-huh, sure, no problem."

Mira closed her eyes and focused within. She always kept her aura strictly controlled whenever she was in airports, subway terminals, and other public places where a lot of random electronics were about. But this time, she let her aura expand to the right and smiled as she reaped her reward.

"What, Jack?!?" Mr. Armani looked at his phone and started walking about to get a clear signal. "Yo! You're breaking up, man!"

Mira kept her aura expanding. At least I can have fun with the side effects of practicing magick. When she heard other people begin to have similar issues, she pulled her energy back in and locked it down. No reason to mess with the normals, Mira. Morg would have kittens. She giggled. Jase would be laughing his ass off about now. She looked up to see the TMC jet taxiing into place. "Finally!"

Mira was hopping from foot to foot as she saw Jase stepping off the plane. Her eyes went wider as she saw the tall, dark haired man in black coming off behind Jase. She stepped out of the gate and sprinted to her best friend.

Jase caught the auburn bundle of energy as Mira leapt into his arms. "You're LATE!" She gave him a kiss on the cheek and added, Who's the hunky Man-In-Black?

Setting his roommate down, Jase turned as Mike pulled off his glasses. Jase had to admit that Mike did look every inch a mafia-body-guard in his black T-shirt, chinos and sunglasses. "Miranda MacGreggor, I would like to introduce Michael Castanio. Mike, this is Mira, the only girl I would ever share space with!"

Mira stuck out her tongue at Jase then extended her hand to Mike. "Why is your name familiar?"

Mike shook her hand and shrugged. "I have no idea." He paused and looked at Jase for a moment. "The phone-call Miranda?"

Jase nodded and smirked. This should prove to be interesting. They're either going to love or hate each other. He assessed his two friends. Though there was a seventy pound and seven inch difference between them, Jase wasn't sure whom he'd put odds on in a fight.

Mira gasped. "Oh, my god!" She let go of Mike's hand and spun on Jase. "He isn't -the Michael- is he?"

Mike raised an eyebrow at Jase and shifted his overnight bag. "-The Michael-?"

For reasons he couldn't quite sure of, Jase was not ready to answer questions about Mike. His feelings were too new and Jase felt his cheeks burning. I never fucking blush! He looked away. "Where'd you park my car, Mira. I know you and stick shifts!" Mike blinked as he felt the connection Jase and he shared all morning suddenly choke down.

Mira ignored Jase's remark and turned back to Mike with a mischievous grin. "Well, the only Michael he's ever mentioned in the four year's we've been friends is the only person he said could read his thoughts better than I can. He's never even dated any Mikes."

Mike shot Jase a surprised look which Jase ignored. "Yeah, yeah whatever, Ms. Know-it-all." He put out his hand impatiently. "Keys!"

Mira smiled and started to walk leisurely towards the gate. "Not till you answer my question," she chided in her sing-song manner that always drove Jase crazy.

"Ok! Yes! Same, Michael!" Jase snatched the keys as she held them out with her fingertips. He marched through the terminal and into the parking lot. Mike and Mira followed a discrete distance behind him.

"Lord. You would think he didn't want to admit he'd missed you or something." Mira shrugged.

Michael put his sunglasses back on to hide the moisture in his eyes. The sudden dampening of their rapport hurt, but his heart was also doing flip flops. He really didn't forget me.

Mira caught Mike's love struck smile and sighed. Why are all the good looking guys taken, gay or both? She glared at Jase's back. You lucky bitch! You go home for less than a week and come back with a hunk. I've been hunting for years and all I get are losers. She looked back at Mike, wondering if he'd heard her thoughts. Jase stopped in the middle of the parking lot and sighed. He turned and waited for Mike and Mira to catch up. "Mira, where the hell did you park?"

She inclined her head to the left. "Two rows over, fifteen spaces down."

Jase looked about and waved his hands in exasperation. "There are at least twenty empty spaces within fifty feet of the entrance! Why did you park out in left field?!?"

Mira put her hands on her hips and gave him a severe look. "Excuse me, Mr. Classic-Mercedes. I parked it there to make sure no one would be on either side of your pride-and-joy. You think I want to hear you whine if there was a scratch or ding?" She snatched back the keys and pointed a finger up at him. "You're acting like a class-A bitch, Jase. If you had wanted some sort of privacy, or whatever, you should have given me some idea when you called!"

Jase took in a breath to start into a full force argument then stopped himself. With a long, slow exhale he looked at his feet and pulled in his claws. "Sorry, Mira."

Mira gave him a quick hug before heading for the car. "It's ok, Jase. I'm used to your bitch-fits. I'd have thought you'd be a bit mellower so soon after getting laid."

Jase's jaw hit the pavement and Mike nearly dropped his bag. "What?!?"

Mira smiled and kept walking. "You can put up the bitchy-witchy aura all you want, Jase. I saw that happy glow when you stepped off the plane." She stopped and gave him an evil wink. "If you became a member of the mile-high-club, I want full details!"

Mike's face was still burning as they pulled onto the highway.

By the time they had come to the Outton exit, Mike felt distinctly like a third wheel. Mira had tried to engage Mike in conversation but the growing sense of disconnectedness had dampened his enthusiasm. He noticed the occasional glance between Jase and Mira and it was obvious that communication was happening that he wasn't a part of. He couldn't help but notice that Mira's hand would be touching Jase almost constantly. His attention returned to their surroundings as the car pulled up in front of a block of shops and upper floor apartments. The sign hanging out front read "Cognitive Collectables."

"Welcome to Morg's." Jase tried to put a spooky tone in his voice as he got out of the car.

Mira laughed and smiled at Mike. "Don't worry, Vincent Price won't be showing up." She walked past Jase and descended the steps to the entrance. "Jase is just having one of his 'goth' flashbacks."

Jase followed her down, rolling his eyes. "I was never a 'goth.'"

She smirked at him before opening the door. "What ever you say, Jase. We'll let the jury take a look at the far right side of your closet and decide for themselves."



Mike followed them in quietly brooding. He could feel their connection most acutely. Mike realized that what he and Jase had shared wasn't unique to him. He set his jaw and willed back the tears.

The interior of the shop was beautiful. The first two levels were open to each other and there were two spiral staircases that allowed patrons to move between levels. The place was furnished with antiques and it had an old-world feel. The light fixtures had flame-style bulbs that shed irregular illumination that added to the ambiance. The only thing that seemed out of place was a computer sitting on the sale's counter.

The clerk looked up and smiled. "Hey, Mira. Hey, Jase." Her eyes glanced over Mike briefly and she smiled. "Hello. I'm Chloe. Welcome to Cognitive Collectables." Mike returned the smile half-heartedly.

Mira slid up to the counter and looked at the computer screen. "You're kidding, right? When did Morg get a computer?"

Chloe smiled. "It was installed yesterday. We have broadband connection and everything. It's the bomb!"

Jase laughed. "If Morg touches it, it will be a bomb!" He flashed an amused smile at Mike. "The last time she tried to enter the 20th century the machine not only crashed but the hard drive spun itself into a whirling dervish and the mother board melted down. The place smelled like burnt plastic for weeks."

Mike smiled back and shifted a bit uncomfortably. After a moment he turned his attention to some books. Jase smiled fondly at Mike's back. He almost reached out to give Mike some reassurance in what Jase knew must have been new to him, but he sensed the absence of their connection and he pulled his hand back. What happened?

Mira smirked at Chloe and waved her hand over the monitor. Other than an almost imperceptible waiver, the screen was unaffected. She shot a look at Jase and sent her thoughts to him. It didn't blink!

Jase frowned, turned away from Mike reluctantly, and walked over to the counter. He leaned against the monitor as he looked at the screen. His presence was no more disruptive than Mira's had been. He gave Chloe a shocked stare. "Has Morg touched it yet?"

Chloe nodded and smiled wider. "Yeah, she spent most of yesterday afternoon staring at the screen after I showed her how to browse the web. It was all I could do not to laugh because she kept mumbling 'amazing.'" She held back from laughing at the looks Mira and Jase were giving each other. "She's in the Study. You can just go on up. She's had brunch delivered."


"As if Morg would have anyone else cater it." Chloe gave Mira a depreciating look.

Mira nearly danced away from the counter and grabbed Mike by the arm. Mike stiffened, but Mira didn't seem to notice. "You'll love it. Vincent's family has been in the restaurant business for generations!"

She nearly leapt for the stairs and vanished as Mike frowned at Jase. "Is she always so..."



Jase smiled. "Mira is sort of like a Chihuahua. She's got a football player's energy crammed into a ballerina's body." Jase started up the steps and looked back at Mike. "Come on up, Mike. Morg will want to meet you." Jase ascended the stairs and laughed. "There will be nothing left to eat if we leave Mira with the food too long."

Mike watched Jase disappear over the balcony before he followed. Don't know why he even asked me along. It isn't like I'm needed here. As emotionally detached as he felt, Mike could not help but feel a soft comfort in something about the store. After he ascended the stairs, he found Jase waiting at the door into a back parlor. As Jase had predicted, Mira had already loaded her plate and was happily devouring some pastries. Jase's hand slipped into Mike's and he gave Mike a strained smile before turning to the woman pouring tea at the far end of the room. "Morg, I'd like to introduce, Michael Castanio."

Morg turned and smiled brightly at Mike. Her eyes seemed to take him all in with a single glance. If she didn't have such a calming presence, Mike would have been uncomfortable under the power of her gaze. She handed Mira a cup before walking forward with her hand extended. "It is a pleasure to meet you, Michael. I bet you prefer to be called Mike."

He had to let go of Jase's hand to meet her greeting. "Yes ma'am, thank you."

Morg laughed. "No need to be formal, dear. Just Morg, will do." She gestured to the chairs. "Please, don't stand on ceremony. Find a comfortable spot and take a seat. Do you like tea or coffee?"

Mike moved to a chair near the door. "Tea."

Morg returned to the serving set."Green or black?"


"Cream, sugar, honey, lemon?"

"Honey, thank you."

She poured his tea from one of the small silver teapots and brought him a cup. She handed Jase a cup she had poured before they arrived. "Coffee, chocolate-hazelnut, heavy cream."

Mike sipped his tea and found it to be exactly as he liked it and at a perfect temperature. He was surprised to find the cup pleasantly warm but not as hot as he would suspect from the temperature of the tea.

Jase smiled, took the cup and sat in the chair nearest Mike. "You're a goddess, Morg."

Morg smiled. "I know, dear. You can leave your sacrificial offerings with Chloe on your way out." She rotated her head slowly, finding a hitch in her neck that was unfamiliar.

Mira cocked her head to the side. "Stiff neck, Morg?"

Morg nodded. "I have no idea why. All I did was sit and read most of the day yesterday."

Jase smirked. "On the 'new computer'?"

Morg smiled. "Noticed it, did you?"

Mira laughed. "Poor, Morg. She finally gets into the 21st century and she discovers it's mostly a pain in the neck."

Morg sighed. "For every blessing a curse is not far behind. I have found a source for magick safe technology and now I must suffer the repercussions of that discovery."

Jase leaned forward. "I thought it was impossible, Morg."

Morg shook her head and winced. "No, not impossible, Jase. You should have seen the effect most sorcerers had on small clocks when they became widely available." She frowned. "No two clocks would ever show the same time when I was near. It was ages before that effect faded." She rubbed her neck after taking a sip of her tea. "Does this happen to everyone or is this simply my own personal curse?"

Jase laughed. Mike set down his cup and stood. "I might be able to help."

Morg nodded to Mike and then smiled at Jase. "You brought me a healer. How thoughtful of you, Jase." Mike moved behind Morg. She relaxed as Mike put his hands on the back of her neck and began to skillfully work out the kink. After a couple minutes she sighed and smiled. "Thank you, Mike." She looked over at Jase. "You can keep him. I approve."

Mike sat back down but didn't meet anyone's eyes. Jase brought his hand to his hair and felt about in exasperation. "What? Do I have 'slept with Mike' pasted on my forehead?"

"Don't be vulgar, Jason." Morg frowned and picked up her cup. "I could care less in whose bed you sleep. I care about in who resides in your heart." She gave him a severe look. "I think of all people, you would know the difference."

Jase's cheeks flushed under Morg's stare and he dropped his eyes to examine his coffee. "Yes, ma'am."

Morg looked over at Mike and smiled. "I'm sorry, Mike. I didn't mean to embarrass you. I occasionally forget my manners when dealing with these two incorrigibles." She nodded toward Jase and Mira.

Mike smiled and tried not to look uncomfortable. "That's ok. I've survived worse."

Morg took her seat and nodded. "I'm sure." After a sip she raised an eyebrow. "Who is your teacher?"

"Mr. Wong."

Morg tapped her finger on the cup as she pondered the name. "Tiger tattoo on the left shoulder and a dragon on the right?"

Mike perked up. "Yes."

She smiled. "I was unaware of any Masters so close by." She set her cup down and nodded. "Please give my compliments to him, Mike. Let him know I would enjoy having tea with him when he has the time."

"I will, ma'am."

She sighed. "Morg please, Mike."

Their meeting with Morg lasted nearly the entire afternoon. Mike found himself drawn in at times and then feeling completely out-of-the-loop at others. By the end of the afternoon, Morg smiled and looked at the wall clock. "It is almost five. If you are going to get back at a reasonable hour, you had best be on your way."

Jase was not through arguing with Morg over her last bit of advice. "I don't see why I should drag Mira into this, Morg."

Morg dismissed his argument with a wave. "You don't have to see why, Jase. You simply have to heed my advice and take her. She is a far more capable clairvoyant than you. If you are to have a chance of tracking down the source of these magicks you will need all the help you can get."

Mira gave Jase a frosty look. "I can handle myself, Jase. I may not be able to juggle fireballs or summon small tornadoes, but I am not a 'damsel in distress'."

Mike sighed. "Its not like there isn't space on the plane or at the apartment, Jase." Jase gave Mike a withering glance but said nothing. He had tried to connect with Mike on and off throughout the afternoon to no avail.

"It's settled then. You will swing by the house and get Mira's things. Give me a call if you discover anything and call me by Friday regardless."

Jase ground his teeth but nodded. "Sure, Morg. Anything else before we head out?"

"I'd advise taking a few 'tools' with you. I'm certain you didn't plan on this when you flew up last week."

"That's for sure."

It was after nine pm when they returned to Mike's apartment. Mike had spent most of the evening keeping his comments to a minimum and feeling more and more remote. Jase was frustrated with his failed attempts to draw Mike out and by the fact he had brought his only other friend into this mess. Mira had kept outwardly cheerful but she was growing more concerned about the tension she felt between Mike and Jase.

Mike looked at the paperwork Jase had left from his studies the night before. "You've got a big morning tomorrow, Jase. We might all want to get some rest and get started early."

Mira nodded. "That's probably a good idea. I assume I'm on the couch?" She had a twinkle in her eye that she realized all too quickly was not amusing to the boys. Damn. I can't even enjoy a simple tease.

Mike frowned. "Well, I could take it but the couch bed is a bit short for me." Jase's face fell and he tried to look away before anyone noticed.

Mira laughed. "Oh, please! I'm so small we don't even have to pull out the couch bed. Just give me a sheet and pillow, and point me towards the bathroom before I turn in." She'd seen Jase's face but decided not to point it out. When I get a chance, I'm going to have to talk with him about this. If they keep this up I'll have ulcers.

"I'll help you with the bed Mira," Jase volunteered, carrying her bags to the other side of the couch. "I'm pretty familiar with how this thing works."

Mike gave Mira the quick tour and gave her a set of towels. She grabbed his wrist before they returned to the living room. "You ok?" She felt the subtle feel of Mike's energy and almost saw how it mingled with hers so similarly to how hers did with Jase. I wonder...

Mike frowned at the extended contact. The last thing he wanted was to be buddy-buddy with Jase's -best friend-. "Yeah, fine. Just tired."

She let go and shrugged. "Ok." She couldn't read him like Jase, but skin contact was enough of a connection that she knew he was lying. She left him in the hall and returned to the bed. Jase had it open and the sheets on. "Thanks, bro." She kissed him on the cheek and established contact. Get some sleep.

Jase saw Mike looking at them. Mike's expression was unreadable. Looks like that's all I'll be doing tonight anyways. He broke contact and smiled. "Night, Mira."

Mike had gotten into bed by the time Jase had finished in the bathroom. Jase noted Mike had turned on his side with his back to the center of the bed. He slipped under the sheets and put his hand on Mike's back. Instead of the tingle that had greeted him with every touch before, Jase felt nothing but a dull emptiness. He pulled back his hand as if it'd been slapped and rolled over. He squeezed his eyes shut and wished the tears to stop. "Night, Mike."

Mike wanted to roll over and pull Jase to him. He wanted to be assured that what they had shared was real. His anger and fear kept him immobile as he felt Jase retreat to the other side of the bed. After a moment, he sighed. "Nite, Jase."

Mira woke as she felt a shifting of the mattress. She rubbed her eyes and looked at Jase as he curled up beside her. "You ok, sweetie?"

Jase tried to conceal a soft sob and then rolled over to her. Mira wrapped him in her arms and hummed. Her magic flowed soothingly over him and in moments Jase's crying calmed. He let out a contented sigh and slipped into a dreamless slumber.

Mira ached as she cradled his head. Oh, Jase. I'll fix everything...

Mike hadn't slept well. His back hurt and he felt as if he'd been in a fight. After Jase left for TMC, Mike checked on Phil. To his displeasure he found Mira already with Phil when he entered.

"Good morning, Mike." Phil greeted the younger man with his usual cheerful demeanor.

"Good morning, Phil. How are you feeling?" He checked Phil's pulses and looked at his tongue.

"A little tired but no worse for wear. It helps having charming company." He smiled at Mira who returned it fondly.

Mike nodded and pulled out Phil's chart. He marked it briefly and headed out the door. "If you need anything I will be in the studio."

Phil looked at Mira with surprise. "You two don't get along?"

Mira patted Phil on the hand and stood. "Don't worry, Phil: I'll fix it."

Phil nodded. "He and Jase figure anything out yet?"

Mira shrugged. "You know how guys are. Some times I think men live for emotional drama."

Phil snorted. "If you ever figure us out, let me know."

She flashed him a smile as she left the room. "I'll be sure to give you an autographed copy of the best seller."

Mira entered the studio after returning to the apartment to change. She watched Mike going through some intense combat forms. She admired his skill but she frowned at the anger she could feel in his movements. She felt it spike for a moment when he saw her.

Can't I even have this to myself? He grabbed a towel and wiped his face. "What's up, Mira?"

Mira looked around the room for a moment and smiled. "I was hoping I could use a small corner to work out. I don't know anything as complicated as you were doing."

"Sure." Mike tossed his towel at the hamper and walked towards the windows. "I'll be done in a few minutes. You can have the place to yourself."

Oh sure. I walk in and suddenly what would have been an hour work out ends at fifteen minutes. She put her hands on her hips. She could feel the tingling of connection but she couldn't get anything from it. "Mike, do you have a problem with me?"

Mike laughed. "Don't flatter yourself, Mira. We only met you yesterday."

Mira frowned. "Fair enough. So your problem is with Jase."

Mike flashed her an angry look. "My problems aren't any of your business."

"When they concern my best friend they become 'my business'."

Mike flinched at her calling Jase that. "Yeah, well you don't have anything to worry about. He definitely is your -best friend-."

Mira struggled to read Mike. As she pushed him his control slipped a little bit. If only I could read him like Jase... Her eyes flew open at her realization. "That's it! You're jealous of our connection!" His shoulders tensed and she pushed harder. She felt like a blind idiot for missing it. Some psychologist I'll be. I can't even see something as simple as that. She formulated a plan of attack and pressed forward. "Does it threaten you because Jase and I can read each other so easily?"

He turned to her and glared. His fists were balled at his sides and he gritted his teeth. "Do you know how cheap that makes me feel? I thought..." He looked away and tried to get a grip on his anger.

Mira pushed a bit harder and closed in. She could almost hear his thoughts. She could tell at this point he was torn and hurting but until she could get in she wasn't going to relent. "You thought you were special?"

She could get flashes of Jase and Mike as they found each other. If it wasn't so important, she would have backed down. She felt like she was invading someplace she had not right being. "Guess what, Mike. I've been with him too, and it was the best fucking lay of my life!"

If she hadn't been tuned into his thoughts she would never have seen it coming. Mike's fist lashed out in a blur. She didn't try to avoid it. She pushed through the opening she had made and held on. Her head snapped back as the back of his hand slammed into her cheek, sending her to the mat.

Mike recoiled from what he'd done. It felt as if he'd hit himself and his cheek was burning. Mira looked up at him from the mat, her eyes hard and unrelenting. "Go ahead, Mike. Hit me again if you need to, but I'll still be here and I'm not going to step aside. My best friend is out there fighting for his future. He has regular people and supernatural beings trying to get him out of the way. Instead of being able to turn to his friends for support he's left alone while we fight over him like a piece of property."

Mike began to shake and he dropped to his knees and hung his head. He'd never struck anyone out of anger, especially not a defenseless girl. After a few moments he pointed over to the far corner and his voice cracked. "The phone is over there."

That caught her off guard. Mira rubbed her cheek and frowned. "So?"

His head hung in shame and he felt tears beginning to run down his cheeks. "So you can call the police."

She looked at him in shock. "Why would I want to do that? It's not like I didn't provoke you." He began to sob. Maybe I went too far. She sat up on her knees and tried to pull his face up. "Mike, look at me."

At first he refused but Mira would not be denied. He raised his eyes and looked at her. "All I'm going to have is a nasty bruise to explain. It's more important to me that we get this worked out."

Mike dropped his head again. "It's not your fault, Mira. It's not like you did anything wrong. I'm just a selfish asshole who lives too much in his head."

Mira put her hands on either side of his face, closed her eyes and let her thoughts flow. You're special, Mike.

Mike's head jerked out of her hands and he stared at her. "How'd you do that?"

Mira smiled and took his hand. "I thought if you and Jase can do it, and Jase and I can do it, then there was a good chance that we could do it." She gripped harder and thought at him again. Morg says its rare for anyone, even witches, to have a connection like this. Don't stop believing in it, Mike. And don't stop believing in Jase. She let go and stood up.

Mike followed her up and brought his hand to her cheek. She flinched for a moment but didn't pull away. "I can fix that."

Mira smiled. "Why else do you think I didn't dodge?"

Mike laughed. "I thought I caught you off guard."

She raised her chin. "Nope. I wanted you to know I was willing to go through just as much as you to be Jase's friend."

Mike dropped his hand. "You really do love him."

Mira nodded. "Yeah, but we don't work out well as lovers. He's really into guys." She laughed. "Not to mention, kissing him is like kissing my brother!"

Mike gave her a confused look. "But you said..."

"And I meant it. We did. Once. I wouldn't give that up for the world." She smiled and smacked Mike's arm. "I'll let you have a shot at him under one condition!"

Mike cocked his head. "Ok, what?"

Her eyes went serious but her growing affection for the big guy still showed. "If you hurt him I get to rip your heart out... personally."

Mike smiled. "And what if he hurts me?"

Mira laughed. "Then I'll kick his ass!"

Jase's nerves were not as they should have been. His problem with Mike was consuming his thoughts. The last thing he wanted was to play ego duels with a corporate asshole.

The board meeting was less than an hour away and Jase sat in his father's office looking at Daniel Horan. Mr. Horan was his most vocal opponent on the board. The man was only a little over forty-five and had the eyes of a weasel. Jase had taken an instant dislike to him.

"How may I help you, Mr. Horan?" Jase had purposefully sat behind the desk in the position of authority. Daniel Horan stood at the other side of the desk with a legal envelope in his hands. He smiled venomously at Jase.

"I have a proposition for you, Mr. Steward."

Jase didn't like his tone. Mr. Horan had something he thought gave him authority in this situation. Jase knew he didn't. "I do hope you aren't thinking of asking for controlling interest, Mr. Horan. You are as aware as I am that I can not sell my assets in TMC for another three years."

Mr. Horan laughed. "You can keep your shares. I want your vote."

Jase raised an eyebrow. "And how exactly do you plan so secure the favor of my support, Mr. Horan?"

He tossed the envelope on the desk in front of Jase. "Let's just say that I wouldn't want TMC to be embroiled in a media blood bath over the tarnished past of its chairman."

Tearing open the envelope, Jase slid the contents onto the desk. After a brief look at the documents before him, Jase started feeling sick. "Where did you get these?" Not only were copies of his arrest records for prostitution present, but Horan also had copies of photos of taken by one of his clients when he was still sixteen and stupid.

Mr. Horan sat confidently into the chair across the desk from Jase and smiled. "Public records, Jason. Though you were never convicted, the records of the arrests are there. Those photos were part of the evidence used to convict a pedophile a couple years ago. My guess is he was one of your clients."

Jase's first impulse was to incinerate the evidence. Don't be stupid, Jase. These are only copies. He looked darkly at Daniel Horan and contemplated several awful things he could do to him. But that doesn't prevent this information from leaking out. He probably hasn't given the info to board members. He wants me to buckle under and proxy my votes to him. Jase straightened up the documents calmly and slid them back into the envelope. "You have put me in an awkward situation, Mr. Horan."

He smiled at Jase with an air of total superiority. "I want you to support my bid to be Chairman of the Board." He let Jase look at the paperwork for a few moments. "Do we have a deal?"

Jase held the envelope up and smiled. "No." His eyes focused on the evidence. "Fuego!" The envelope erupted into flame and flashed as he tossed it to the desktop. The fire was so hot that there was nothing but powdery ash by the time the remains drifted to the polished mahogany.

Daniel Horan pushed up from his chair and snarled. "Cute trick! If you think I'm going to let some little whore take control of this company you are sorely mistaken!" He spun on his heel and strode angrily towards the door.

"Infinitas sopor!" Daniel Horan never made it to the door. His body slumped and he collapsed a few steps from his chair. Jase stood and waved his hand carefully over the ashes. They floated at his will and settled neatly into an envelope he drew from the desk. Jase quickly sealed the envelope and tucked it into his jacket pocket. He then rose and walked swiftly to the door, opened it and called out to the administrative assistant. "Rose, call the paramedics. Mr. Horan just collapsed!"

He bent down and confirmed the man had a pulse. What do I do now?

Mira and Mike made it to TMC in record time. They waited as the paramedics wheeled one of the board members out on a stretcher. Jase was answering the questions of another paramedic as they got to his office. "Yes, he stood and said some heated words I would prefer not to repeat, and then he collapsed as he turned to leave. We had been arguing but I was not aware of anything wrong till he dropped."

"Are you aware of any health conditions?"

Jase shook his head. "I only met Mr. Horan for the first time on Friday."

The paramedic nodded. "We've got a call in to his doctor."

"Please keep us informed of his condition."

"That information is reserved for his family and legal council, Mr. Steward. You will have to get your information from them."

Jase nodded. "Of course. Thank you for your quick response and I hope Mr. Horan will be back on his feet soon." The paramedic nodded and excused himself. Jase looked at his assistant and sighed. "Please tell the other board members that the meeting will need to be postponed. We will reschedule after word from Mr. Horan's family or legal council."

"Yes, Mr. Steward."

Jase smiled tightly at Mike and Mira and pushed open his office door. "Call me after you inform the board members, otherwise I don't want to be disturbed."

"Yes, sir."

Jase closed the door and let out a slow deep breath. He felt his knees give way but Mike caught him before he could hit the floor. Mike set him down in one of the chairs. "You ok?"

Jase shook his head. "No." He could feel his hands shaking. He looked at Mira and she took his hand. He had photos, Mira!

"Jase, just a sec." She nodded to Mike and he put his hand on Jase's shoulder. The connection snapped into place and Jase felt a bit disoriented.

Just remember what happened, Jase. Don't try to explain. Mira's thoughts were calming and Jase closed his eyes and let the events replay. When he was done, Jase could feel Mike grip on his shoulder like a vice.

That Bastard! Mike's thoughts were so full of emotion that Jase had to break contact.

Jase looked at Mira and gasped. "What the hell happened to you?"

Mira put her hand to her cheek and her eyes flashed at Mike. "We were sparing and got a little carried away." Jase wasn't sure if he believed her but she smiled and squeezed his knee. "He's already promised me your first born as restitution." She looked back at the door and frowned. How long will he be out?

Till the spell is broken. I kind of broke a rule or two there.

Mira rolled her eyes. You can undo it right?


Then all we have to do is locate the originals, find his informant, and mind wipe everyone involved.

Jase coughed. Oh sure. We could end up with a whole handful of amnesiacs.

Mira looked from Jase to Mike and back. "Any better ideas?"

Mike smirked. "There could be a sudden population explosion in frogs."

They all busted out laughing.