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Trust is a Luxury not all can Afford



 
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Noli Joudain

The text, however unexpected, was a welcome surprise; Noli had been struggling over the last month and she really did need some girl time, not that she ever had a female friend to do that with.

Or a friend.

It was true, she was quite the loner; other than her dog and a lot of conversations were one-sided when it came to that friendship.

But, now Noli really felt like Quinn was that missing piece. Someone she could talk to and maybe she wouldn't quite feel like she was carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders. Now that New Orlean's finest were actually taking her sister's case seriously, she could peddle back a bit on the hunt for Emeline; not exactly what she was doing, especially since she left out critical information they needed but for Noli, taking a day for a walk in the park, letting Sabine run, it was about all the rest for the wicked she was going to allow herself.

Her dog enjoying herself in the larger dog area as she sat on a lone bench, was well worth the time away from walking the city streets at all hours; and maybe, just maybe, this meeting with Quinn could help her let go of some of the guilt she felt when it came to her sister.

Though, the young woman was curious as to why the blonde would text out of the blue, she would put it out of her mind; she would find out soon enough.

Her attention was split momentarily, a soggy ball dropped in her lap that she'd throw before wiping her hand on her jeans, once again, and return her attention to her phone to shoot the text message on how to find the permit in her truck and then find the larger dog area; being several acres, it was the smart thing to do.

Quinn
Old, brown Chevy. Permit in the seat. Just show them at the entrance.
Just follow the signs to the larger dog area.
It's pretty quiet here, so we can talk in private.
See you soon!

Now, all she had to do is wait, enjoy watching the leopard spotted dog's hijinks, and wonder exactly what Quinn could possibly need from her; okay, so she mostly just played with her dog and pretended she didn't have a care in the world.

She'll worry about what happens next when next comes around the corner.
April 09, 2018 05:13 pm

Quinn Abernathy

You got this.

Gideon’s words echo through her mind on repeat as she reads the message from Noli. She’s got this. She does. Right? Right?

Quinn, current state, is stressed. Running a cult, taking on as much of her husbands burdens as she can, faking a pregnancy, possibly truly being pregnant... getting off the property had been a trial. The women there were unsupportive. The men were adamant that she should not go. But the young woman merely smiled, promising them everything was quite alright and this trip is potentially special. It simply could not be pushed back.

She’s got this.
This place is as much her own as it is Gideon’s.
It’s going to be okay.

It took some time to find her way to the specific dog park Noli specified. For this, she is grateful. Quinn still does not know how to approach things with Magnolia. Tell the truth, or deceive. Things were simple before now, and she finds herself feeling something rare as a small dash of jealousy peppers her emotions when she observes normal people, walking their dogs. A normal day. A simple day.

She misses simple.

More than anything, Quinn missed herself. She misses the man she fell in love with. The one that was not bogged down and immersed in their current life. No. She wants the man she built a home with. The one who called her mi alma and sought nothing more than her smile. More than once, she has wondered what it would take to have him turn his back on this life again. More than once, she realizes the cost is likely as high as it was for Mira.

Quinn shakes it off, gaze landing on the final sign that would indicate she reached the park she has been walking toward. To be completely honest, she doesn’t even remember getting there, too lost in her melancholy thoughts.

She would enter the enclosure and close the gate behind her, taking care to lock it securely. And, after a quick scan about the area, she would see the woman and make her way toward her.

Smile, she would remind herself. And smile she does, though the bright smile that reached her chocolate eyes is gone. Instead, it is pleasant, and a mere ghost if what once was. A small wave would be granted before she reaches her, taking a seat beside her on the bench with a murmured hello.

“Which one is yours?”
April 10, 2018 12:05 pm

Noli Joudain

Time.

That's all Noli had on her hands lately and waiting for Quinn; it gave her the quiet moments she had avoided to reflect on the last few weeks. Her sister, travelling back and forth from Cocodrie, buying a place on Bourbon street, the confrontation with her uncle and the Detective, and more recently, quitting her job.

That had not gone over very well.

But nothing did when it included her family; unfortunately for her, another uncle had close ties to the school she taught at, his wife was technically her boss. Leaving the school in a lurch because she was tossing away everything she worked for to find a sister that had done nothing but cause her pain in the past, no one could understand why Noli was working so hard to prove something had happened to her.

Especially when they still didn't believe her.

It was worse when she ignored her Uncle Rene and had to listen to the voicemail from the irate Captain.

She missed her life. The one she had, but there was no going back now.

And that had put one other thing, one other person on her mind.

Grandmère Belle and her blasted gift; something Magnolia did not want but was finally starting to welcome it even if she couldn't control it.

Or understand, nor could she predict it.

...and certainly, had no idea if she'd ever would.

Every good and perfect gift is from above. You have to accept that Noli Belle. One day, it'll all be clear, ma petite fleur.

The brunette wouldn't have much time to reflect on the memory, one that she hadn't thought about it since that day over a decade before; but here it was, at the forefront of her mind as she watched the blonde wave and make her way to the bench.

And Noli's gut would churn.

Even as an easy smile grew at the sight of her friend, even wider when asked about her dog.

Bless the girl's restraint in not going straight in for the kill and asking what was wrong.

She could do this; normal, pleasant, a friend.

"Sabine, the cream and tan spotted. Did you know the Catahoula are Louisiana's state dog? Probably why it's so popular. I got her when she was eight weeks old, my one constant. Well, now she is. I chose her for her eyes. They match mine."

Noli would twist on the bench, drawing one leg up to tuck under herself as those aforementioned eyes fell on Quinn; doubt, worry, stress. It came off of her waves and even without Noli's so-called gift, it was apparently as the day is long.

"The truth is..." She wanted to help, to find some words of wisdom that could help the other woman open up, wanted her to see that she could be trusted but how, they knew one another sure, hit it off quickly, purely kismet they found one another; but you could not expect someone to just lay all their problems at, practically, a stranger's feet.

So, Magnolia, ever a trusting soul, did the only thing she could.

"I wasn't completely honest before. Do you have someone in your life that you'd do anything for, no matter what? You just have to protect them. Mine is my sister; no matter what she's done to me in the past, I just clean up her problems. Like a dead body."
April 10, 2018 01:58 pm

Quinn Abernathy

Quinn’s gaze moves out, looking over the dogs until they find Sabine, a hand raising up to shield her eyes from the sun above. Briefly, she considers her own dog, Cheeto. He would have had great fun in a dog part, if not for all he had endured. Now, her once sweet dog is distrustful, even of her. Still, she wouldn’t lose her smile. Living the way she does can do that to a person.

Noli moves, turning in her seat to face her, and Quinn mimics the movement to face her new friend. Her words capture her wholly, and as she rests her elbow upon the back of the seat back, she finds herself making true eye contact.

A small nod is granted, telling tale of having her own situation in which she would do just the same for someone. She has, and is actively doing just that.

Like hide a dead body.

Quinn doesn’t bat an eyelash.

“Emeline is very lucky to have a sister like you.”

Pressing her lips together, she lowers her gaze. Quinn recognizes how difficult it is to speak up like this, and while some might be horrified by the abrupt information, she simply isn’t. The young woman has been destructive over the past several months, turning her back on her own nature in favor of survival. More than that, her desire to please her husband drives her.

She hit someone with the truck when she ran.
She poisoned his brother.
Her weakness caused the death of a child.
She murdered someone, outright.
She buried the body with her husband.
She easily forgives her husbands darker nature.

Tears brim her eyes, overwhelmed by her own sins and the honesty of the woman before her. It brings her remorse, and a deep seated guilt. Chewing at her bottom lip, she lowers her hand to swipe a finger below her eye, willing her tears to leave. Only then does she raise her gaze.

Noli has been so honest.

You got this.

“I understand. My husband...” The words escape her quietly, hushed for fear of listening ears. Quinn never knows when she has a tail, but at such a critical point in time, she would not be surprised. But more than anything, it is abundantly clear that for him, she would do anything and has, with no limit.

“We don’t live in a small town. We live in a place called Our Shepherds Flock. It’s more than religious... it’s a cult. His fathers. But now, it’s ours.” Raising her gaze, she tearfully meets her companies mismatched gaze. This is not the life she wanted for them - not even close. What she has provided them is a thoroughly mutilated idea of what she wanted. A home, a garden, and in some alternate universe, children.

Instead, they have the home and the garden, complete with a population of individuals who know nothing but the twisted reality they have been spoon fed. More than that, quite possibly a child.

“And I came here with the intention of deceiving you, to get you to come back to this place with me.”

This is not completely true, though Quinn doesn’t see it that way. She needs help, and wants it. As isolated as she is, she craves nothing more than someone she can talk to. She is adapting, certainly, but she strives to avoid adding to Gideon’s stresses. Gideon has been honest about his life from the get, and she would follow suit.

“But I can’t. I can’t lie.”
April 11, 2018 12:10 pm

Noli Joudain

"Lucky." Wry grin twisted and a small huff of breath escaped, a quasi-laugh; not at her bench partner, but instead the entire situation with her sister that seemingly would never be solved and at this point, Noli wasn't too sure if she wasn't on her way to giving up, that very thought is what would on a bit of Joudain sibling history. "She wouldn't see it that way. We're only two years apart and yet, completely different. I suppose we all are, we have a brother, Landry, he's a lot older so it's always just been me and Em."

Really, Noli didn't know much about her older brother; he had left as soon as he turned eighteen, taking his trust and hightailing it out of Louisiana to pursue his adrenaline junkie ways. She hadn't seen him in years, not since her college graduation; the night she had learned firsthand what betrayal meant.

"My parents, my brother, family, they really don't understand why I've pushed for everyone to take it seriously. It doesn't matter what she has done to me in the past, no one deserves to be given up on, even if they aren't exactly likable."

My husband...

Magnolia would assume that was the answer to her question and though she understood love, that kind of attachment was beyond her; to stand in front of someone that didn't share your blood, to profess that kind of emotional bond. Well, she thought she had understood it once, but turns out, she was wrong about that and so many other things in this world.

"There are more things in Heaven and Earth..."

Her own hushed tones slipped out, nothing that was truly important to the conversation; though one day, they could be. Those words plus the timbre of emotion in her friend's voice would have Noli's gaze pull away from the blonde, only to focus on her faithful companion loping back in their direction only to curl up happily at their feet.

If life was only that simple.

...it's a cult.

Simple. Right.

It was never that simple; hazel eyes would drill into the teary eyes of the blonde, but she did not blink, did not act surprised, what would be the point in that when Noli already knew there were secrets. From the first moment they met, those hidden things drifted between the silence of conversation; besides, who was she to judge, she did feed a body, maybe, to gators.

A cult couldn't be that bad. Right?

"You want me to come... with you? To a cult? Why? Wait a minute, aren't people like that a little distrustful of the outside world? Wouldn't they have something to say about someone you don't know being brought there?"

Practical questions. She did have others. Not that she would tell Quinn she wouldn't go with her, Noli knew that from the moment the truth was uttered; she had to go. Not just for the blonde woman who seemed to be at the end of her rope; but she needed a holiday from dealing with her life in a land of no coping; and her friend had the solution.

"I think that the only way for that to work, is more lies. We need to know everything about one another, old friends. Found again." That was all there was to say, her friend would already know she was on board, and for her, logically, if the other people had a problem with a stranger, maybe this lie will ease some of their minds. "First, I do need to know one thing... How on earth were you going to deceive me into coming with you?"

Was it really important? No, not at all. But the laughter in her hazel eyes might have the other woman deducing that; Noli was simply curious as to how that was going to work.
April 12, 2018 01:11 pm

Quinn Abernathy

"You know... it doesn't matter who you're looking at. There is always good in them. Everyone." Almost anyone, she wants to say. It is a hard lesson she is learning, but when speaking of Magnolia's family, she would rather not steal away any hope her friend may have. Despite her obvious discontent, she is lucky to have them.

"It's important not to lose hope in the people in your life. Don't lose sight of who they are, at heart."

Noli's reaction to her admission is unexpected, but Quinn had barely batted an eyelash when Gideon professed his past and present to her. The questions are far from surprising, either. The basic knowledge, however, is.

'How on earth were you going to deceive me into coming with you?'

It is when the final question comes, despite the humor in Noli's gaze, that Quinn simply cannot find her own smile. Instead, she lowers her sights to the contented dog at their feet.

"I don't know. It's not something I've ever done before. This, any of it."

The impulse to look around strikes her, and she finds herself glancing about the surrounding area as completely as she can. Quinn notices nothing, but two young women on the other side of the dog park in obviously homemade dresses. The two had travelled with Quinn from the commune to the city, her escorts on a questionable mission. She'd lied.

"They don't like outsiders so much, no." Clearing her throat, Quinn looks at Noli once more. She swallows, blinking back her upset as best she can. It is difficult not to be. She's found herself exceedingly emotional lately.

She nods towards the two girls, calling Noli's attention towards them. "I told them I am meeting with my sister to share the news of my pregnancy. That you are a school nurse." Chocolate depths call for an understanding. "It was very interesting for them. We do not generally talk about the world outside of the commune."

Quinn presses her lips together. There is a large amount of pride being lost right now as she stoops to a level safe for consumption. The method of communication is veiled, yet still abrupt, as she tells of the lies she has told for this visit. All lies, except possibly one.

"My husband is very busy, and stressed. His stress is my own, but more than anything... mine is his. This is our first child, and possibly our only child. I need my sister."

More than anything, it is clear that Quinn has already begun to spun the lie. Gideon said it might be good to have a nurse handy. So, she created a nurse. Not only that, but a nurse with a personal connection, to avoid someone who would be a complete stranger to the commune. And, while she did not commit to Noli joining them or not, she planted the seed.

“The appointment tomorrow… it’s at the hospital.”
April 12, 2018 10:40 pm

Noli Joudain

Noli had heard the same thing from her grandmother her entire life and now she knew why; things happen for a reason and when they do, you have a choice. Turn from it, bury your head in the sand, runaway from whatever problem or issue it may be.

Or push forward and help; Noli's personality was something that would cause her to be a glutton for punishment because she had never turned her back on someone in need, it was a compulsion really.

And the main reason she was the way she was; her sister.

Reckless, selfish, cares for no one. Emeline.

Night and day. But Quinn was right, you had to see the good in people. Without hope, there was nothing.

"I keep hoping one day, she'll change. I don't think she ever will, but losing hope isn't something I'm capable of doing; never could. It comes with a little heartbreak, but it's the road I chose."

More than anything, Magnolia wanted Quinn at ease; it bothered her that someone was hurting, in such duress and she couldn't do anything about it. She would settle her own emotions, moderately, when her sister began to focus on the reason they were actually here instead of Noli's life. She hadn't given up on Em, or finding her; however, she was dead serious about not dealing with anything going on in her life. She would watch her friend scan the area and lock onto the strangely dressed women, listening intently; struggling with answers that would lead to more questions, Noli would bite them back while pulling her phone from her pocket.

Seven missed calls and texts.

Em goes missing, nothing.

Noli changes her entire life and it's like the world ended.

Yeah, land of no coping, here she comes.

"Sending you a picture of our parents. Just in case; most people struggle with how I fit in with my golden haired, beautiful siblings, so if anyone asks, you just look like mother."

Her hazel eyes would leave the two escorts and lock back with Quinn's distraught gaze; she could feel the sadness, stress, but more, she could feel the need for understanding and even more than that, someone she could bring down into the rabbit hole with her.

She needed Noli and Noli needed her.

Other friendships started with a lot less.

"Luckily, I've been around a lot of pregnant women. We have six uncles, all but one is married and all of them have at least two or more sons. Sixteen cousins. All male. Most married with children. Pregnancy spreads like a plague in my... our family."

Between all the family back in Cocodrie and teaching in a school with no school nurse; Noli had some knowledge of pregnancies, anything that could help sell their lies, was useful.

"As a sister, there's probably a lot of things you need to know. I just don't know what's important. Grandmother was extremely religious with a God-given talent in knowing things, I was engaged once, Landry is a decade older than I am, I'll be twenty-seven in May." This was hard work, no doubt, but Noli didn't know if these people would grill them or just accept it, as much as they could, so her pause was merely to think about things that family should know.

"I'm not religious, Quinn. I like alcohol, my gun, my dog... and not dresses. Is this going to be a problem?"
April 13, 2018 11:08 am

Quinn Abernathy

"I still don't like the name Mom gave me. Sherri. Quinn Sherri. After that character from The Outsiders. She was really into that book..."

Quinn pulls out her own phone, opening the message that holds the photo of Noli's parents. She looks them over carefully, taking note in all the details she can. It is a stretch, but she could certainly swing it. Though, gratefully, she does doubt that anyone would ask to see it or hear much more.

"A lot of babies, yea," she comments after Noli lists off the proof of the fertile family nature. Truth be told, she wasn't sure she could get pregnant. When it came up at first, it had been a bold lie at a time. But then, when she realized she was late and remained as much, Quinn had been faced with a stark reality that perhaps it is possible. Maybe the timing had been right, before. Maybe they had been lucky until now.

"I thought for a while that gift had skipped me. I'm glad it didn't."

She nods as she stares down at the picture, doing her best to commit the details to memory as Noli lists tehm off. "You missed my 32nd birthday in December. It's okay. I know you've been busy."

But then, the subject turns from family history and small personal details. Her gaze raises to meet Noli's and she lets out a quiet sigh. "It is a religious community. My husband is the Shepherd. It had been prophecised by his father before that the Shepherd would come, and he did. Beaten in the streets by his own people, just like his father said."

This makes her uncomfortable, talking like this. Quinn does her very best to never associate herself or Gideon with the cult's beliefs, and here she is.

"The Father had gone to my husband in his dreams when he was younger, telling him he had to leave, alone. There was something he must do, to fight off the evils of the world and protect the Flock. He promised that he would meet a Messenger He sent... and we did meet."

It is fairly clear, despite her story telling, that Quinn does not believe all of this. She is far from religious, and has been as much for as long as she can remember.

Letting out a breath, she leans into the back of the seat. She has done her best to keep her tone hushed, concerned that the women might overhear. Quinn could never tell when they were listening, or how much they truly heard.

"We only keep alcohol in our house, and the community only drinks on special occassions. I don't know the rules on guns.. but we have a dog and a cat. That shouldn't be a problem. Most people make their own clothes. I brought mine with me, and no one seems to mind. Just have to be modest, is all."

Pressing her lips together, she takes a moment to consider it all. Here they are, and soon, they'll be somewhere completely different. Noli is going to go with Quinn, who is practically a stranger to the woman.

"Please don't tell anyone about where I've been, Noli... It's important that the community be a secret. I don't want to worry mom and dad." She looks at her, praying that the woman agrees to secrecy. "Is that going to be okay?"
April 13, 2018 05:51 pm

Noli Joudain

"At least you got somewhat of a normal name. Pretty sure our parents were hippies in another life." Noli had to get used to thinking of Quinn as a sister; they certainly didn't need any kind of slipup to reveal their lies. Especially since her sister seemed a little out of sorts with her so-called bodyguards; she would have to remember to ask about that when they were far more alone.

Alone.

Could they be alone at this... commune?

Okay, she could do this.

"You've missed a lot since you left, but it's not surprising really. When Landry packed up the minute he turned eighteen, I think everyone knew it was only a matter of time and after the incident with my ex-fiancé well, we don't see him anymore either. Something is up with him."

It was a little odd at first, Magnolia wasn't quite the type that would carry a lie for someone, especially a stranger, but the moment she met Quinn, it was like they were already family and the sh-t her real sister had put her through, had only prepared her for that moment.

Okay, and her grandmother with the all-seeing eye.

We're not getting into that yet.

"You were already gone when our parents decided to move to Virginia. Closer to mother's family. It was absolutely awful. But I've been back in Louisiana for nearly nine years."

Noli could accept everything Quinn was saying about her husband, the flock, was it a bit odd, sure; honestly, it probably wasn't the strangest thing the brunette had seen or heard today, so she would take her own clothes. They were modest. It wasn't like she was Emeline. Sabine, welcome to bring her. Her guns, easily hidden. Alcohol, as long as she had a glass of wine at the end of the day, she was good. But not two, two it got weird.

Not like things were not getting weirder by the minute now anyway.

It was the pleading remark about her place of residence remaining concealed that pulled her back into the conversation; spotted orbs met with darker ones, seconds ticked by before a teeth-baring smile started to dig in as she spoke. "No one needs to know where I am either, Quinn and since I'm going with you, I think it works out for the both of us. Besides, I'm going to be an aunt, making sure you and the baby are safe and happy, is like my job. I do have a few more questions though...."

There was something she needed to know, a whole lot of somethings but this one was what seemed important at the moment to Noli; basically, because she needed to know what she was really walking into. Nerves, confusion, desperation, stress, and even the buried happiness about the pregnancy; Noli could feel it all coming off in in waves from her friend, but it was this oozing blackness, this underlying fear that would give Magnolia a churn in her gut that she couldn't let go.

The way Quinn spoke of her husband, that kind of love was not out of fear, it wasn't him and it was definitely not the anxiety of this situation; so at the risk of exposing the gift she swore she didn't have, the important question that could not be put off was whispered, no telling who was listening right?

"What are you afraid of... who?"
April 14, 2018 10:46 am

Quinn Abernathy

“Landry shouldn’t have left like that. He didn’t even call me. I’m sorry I left like I did, too. I lived in the country in Pennsylvania for a bit, then the city, and then upstate New York. That’s where I met my first husband. You might meet him one day, he comes around sometimes. Gideon doesn’t like that, though. He wasn’t good to me in the end.”

‘Wasn’t good’ is an understatement. Quinn hadn’t done what she did, she would have died. It was horrible, but not his fault. And it is a topic that she never was able to fully talk to anyone about. There are some in her life that don’t even know she separated from her first husband, let alone that she fell desperately in love with another.

“Sorry about your ex, Noli. I hope it wasn’t too horrible…”

Chewing at her bottom lip for a minute, Quinn considers how large this lie really is. It is like The Parent Trap on a dangerously large scale, and she is counting on the Flock’s need for a lack of details to pull it off. Briefly, she wonders if Gideon will be pleased with this entire story. The key is to keep it simple, and that is surely something they could do, even if only out of necessity.

She nods as Noli smiles and agrees to secrecy, finding herself coaxed into a small smile of her own. It is soothing, if nothing else. Quinn holds an unnatural amount of trust in Magnolia, something that is second nature outside the commune. When away, she can breathe. But when there, she suffocates for both herself and Gideon.

’What are you afraid of... who?’

Quinn stares, smile fading as she does her best to churn out a lie to tell despite the stuttering in her mind. No one has ever asked her this. Fear is something she should not speak of, especially when it comes to the cult. It has been the first rule of survival since day one.

“Um...” Quinn delays the answer, finding herself to be far more nervous now than she had been.

How does she know? There is a small amount of paranoia that pops up in her mind, fearful that this woman is actually providing information to John. She has no idea how far his reach is, but it is not something that she would put past her father in-law.

You got this.

“Gideon...” his name tumbles from her lips in a whisper, and Quinn let’s her gaze fall to her lap.

Quietly, brows stitching together to perfect an expression of true turmoil, she lets out a sigh that stems from her very core. “I am scared of losing him.”

She is not afraid of John. Gideon has told her time and time again that she should be, but she just cannot bring herself to live in that sort of fear when there are greater things to be wary of. While her chosen answer is not the whole truth, it is the root of all truths.

Lifting a hand, she squeezes the bridge of her nose and takes a deep breath. “It is important for you to understand that it is very dangerous, Noli. Before you really agree, you should know that.
April 14, 2018 05:01 pm

Noli Joudain

"First husband? There has to be a story there and as delightful as that meeting might be, I think an audience with my current brother-in-law should come first. I suppose that will be when I join you or before?" This topic was far more interesting than their older brother; Landry had been away for so long that it really didn't feel like he was even part of the family. His idea of communication was random gifts from different parts of the world he had visited and even those had stopped nearly five years before, after the 'incident'.

That incident; she really had let all of that go, something most of her family had not.

It was still something she didn't talk about.

Yet, she felt compelled to tell Quinn.

And perhaps it would explain some of her idiosyncrasies that would surely come out at a later time.

"When we moved to Virginia to be closer to mother's family, I learned a few things; the biggest was old families stick together and apparently we're part of that. You're lucky, debutante balls and garden parties, you escaped that and I was terrible at it. Honestly, I just wanted to come back home to Louisiana and live in a hut on the Bayou. Emeline was much better at it, but wild, so being the so-called perfect wife was not in her wheelhouse."

Noli's teeth would catch her bottom lip between teeth, a mannerism the girls shared which if anything would help to sell their lies; it was a long drawn out story, simply because she was starting from the beginning. Sure, she could have said a few things and ended it but, sometimes it was cathartic to just unload. These two, it was a lot of give and take; trust was tricky, but they had to have it with one another, something that Noli felt deep in her bones, it was a life or death thing.

And trust her inexplicably she did.

"So, mother's best friend married a Fitzhugh. Had a son my age. Got engaged, decided marriage after college, all those little details. However, one little thing changed it all..." The brunette would slip her fingers underneath the slim silver chain around her neck, displaying the well-worn ring dangling from it. "When I say I'm going to do something, I do. I don't break promises or pledges. Purity ring. I was... am waiting for marriage. And Emeline... well, she doesn't. Landry caught them, Christmas break about five years ago. He lost his **** and nearly killed my ex... and I thanked my sister. Came home to LSU and haven't been back."

She would tuck the necklace back under her tee, a half-smile on her face, really, she didn't mind what happened, Emeline had saved her from a disaster with her recklessness and that's all that she really cared about; besides she came back to where she belonged.

Running from Virginia had been the best thing for her.

And now she was running again it seemed.

This time, straight into danger it seemed.

"We're just going to have to do everything in our power to make sure nothing happens to him then and you're pregnant, so it's up to me and my guns that are going with me."

She was a little obsessed with her weaponry, but hell, she had no idea what she was walking into; better to be prepared for war than to be caught off-guard in a hostile situation.

"What is it you need me to do? Besides be the concerned sister, what role am I to play?"

Besides being; liar, liar, pants on fire.
April 15, 2018 10:05 pm

Quinn Abernathy

"When you join me.." Quinn answers the question quietly, almost timid to the idea. She wonders how Gideon will react to this, but she also knows that with her only ally outside of himself slated for death, he understands her need for someone she may stay close to.

The conversation moves on, and Noli begins to spin a tale for Quinn finds herself to be listening with rapt attention. She talks of Virginia, and the life they had there. To her, it sounds like a different time altogether. As if Noli had travelled back in time to become Scarlet O'Hara, with her sting of suitors and her very own Rhett Butler.

'Purity ring.'

There is a look of shock on Quinn's face that flashes across her face, but it is far from judgment. From there, everything is just a landslide of terrible thing.

Mouth just slightly agape, it would appear that this is the most shocking thing Quinn has heard in a long time. That, in and of itself, is hilarious given her circumstances. The girl lives in a cult, where human sacrifices are made, and something as mundane as an affair is what causes her pause.

Perhaps it is simply because of the simplicity of the story.

But as the conversation turns back again, she blinks it all away. The guns. That's right. Lowering her voice, she tries to speak as quietly and calmly as she can. "Noli, no one can know you have those.. I really don't know the rules on them, but you have to understand that having them is going to make it all the more dangerous."

When roles are questioned, Quinn glances down to her lap and tries to consider her own. A leader, and a teacher. How could she ask Noli to do anything away from her? Especially knowing what she does now...

"Teach. With me. But..." Sighing, she looks toward the two women and gives them a smile and wave, finding them to be watching from a distance with overly interested expressions. But that wave seems to make them feel invited, and they are soon walking toward the two women. Quinn is careful to keep that smile on her face, despite the edge she teeters on.

"Well, it is best they know as little as possible about the outside world. Sometimes, we might work in the garden. Sometimes, with the other women when there is an upcoming event. It's a very simple community."

The younger of the two is the first to reach them, the older remaining slightly behind the first. "Messenger? Is everything alright?"

Quinn presses her lips together, smile still present as she hides the strain with the simple gesture. "Of course. I'm sorry.. it's just been so long since I've seen Magnolia."

"Evelyn's goodbye party will be starting soon." The older is much more assertive, working to keep things on track despite Quinn's dawdling. The younger, however, is obviously much more keen on her Messenger. It shows in her next question.

"Will your sister be joining us?"
April 16, 2018 06:43 pm

Noli Joudain

The shock registering on Quinn's face at the story of her life before returning to Louisiana had a slight curve to Noli's lips appearing; honestly, it wasn't even the worst that Emeline had done but it was one of the bigger reasons for Noli's general aloneness.

Other than her dog.

Not much could come between her and Sabine.

The real shock, that would come with Noli's willingness to disappear to an unknown, presumably dangerous, place with perfect strangers almost eagerly; it was absurd, maybe even a little bit insane but up until the very moment Quinn had asked her to join her, Magnolia could only name one time she shifted her entire life for something more.

Returning to the Bayou had been, up until now, the most courageous thing she had done.

Noli had looked at the time in her story, not as a mistake or disaster, but has a miracle; thanking her sister for the intervention, for proving everything her head had known and some in her family had some very heated opinions on that story, that was more about how terrible Emeline was, but considering how the brunette had reacted, let's just say no one really understands her.

Until Quinn, that is.

And because it seemed like fate was interfering again, leading her down another road.

Magnolia Belle was not going to turn her back on it.

Now, she just had to join the blonde at this undisclosed location.

Meet her brother-in-law.

Stick close to Quinn.

Easy, peasy.

"...you have to understand that having them is going to make it all the more dangerous.

Her guns. That would bring her back to the now, Quinn, talking. It might be dangerous, but Noli would feel better with them being on her person; it was a personal choice and her self-preservation wasn't up for debate when it came to her weaponry. Besides, she knew how to hide them, not like she wasn't carrying quite a bit on her right now.

No one needed to know.

However, Noli would nod in agreement. She understood. And once again she would bow her head in understanding, teaching, that was something she could do; reading between the lines, she would pick up on what was not said. She was there to stay next to her sister and she would.

She did have a lot of questions, probably ones that couldn't wait; however, with the two approaching women, Noli's teeth would catch hold of her bottom lip and hold as she watching with rapt attention, the short conversation between the three others, mainly focusing on the two new women and the emotions pulsing off of them. She teeth would only relinquish the hold when she opens her mouth and shuts it just as quickly; did they mean overall joining or for some party?

She really needed to get out of her head once in a while and perhaps, out of other's as well.

"Absolutely!" No need to feign the excitement, she already cared a great deal about Quinn and was hellbent on being there for her; nothing else to really think about. "I do have to close up the house and get my things but as soon as I'm able, I will definitely be joining my sister."
April 17, 2018 01:05 pm

Quinn Abernathy

'Absolutely!'

Practice is the only thing that saves Quinn from blanching. This woman truly has no idea what she is getting into, and the last thing Quinn wants for her to see, is Evelyn's sacrifice.

She had been fully informed when she was taken. Literally, taken. Quinn had been abducted from a motel room, drugged, and procured to the cult. She was subjected to seeing Gideon beaten and bloodied. And while he wished her to leave, she refused. That is how much she loves him. But she knew.

Noli, on the other hand...

"Magnolia won't be at the party, no," Quinn finally speaks despite the nervous dryness of her throat, her voice calm but trepidation clear. "But she will be joining us, to live with us, yes. She just needs to cut ties with the outside world."

The girl waves a hand, indicating everything around them. Everything that isn't the commune, their home.

"But she will miss the ceremony," the younger interjects.

"Mary," her elder counterpart would interject. Outsiders are not to be trusted, and Noli would find herself frozen out and having to prove herself.

"It's okay, Sarah. It's alright. Magnolia is new, but she is eager to learn, and we will be there to help to teach her, won't we?"

Quinn's expectations are clear, and despite her own failings to fit in, her word is Gideon's word as well. Sarah gives a short nod, and Mary simply beams a smile that touches her eyes. Swallowing, she looks at Magnolia, making the executive decision to be honest.

"Evelyn is the eldest member of Our Shepherd's Flock, and tonight is a celebration of her life. There will be several days of festivities, but tonight kicks it off. It is an honor to be part of the sacrificial ceremony."

Despite her calm delivery, Quinn can feel herself breaking apart inside. She loves the old woman dearly, counting on her as one of her only allies in the cruel world in which she resides. This isn't what she wants to do, but she must. She has to, for the safety of Gideon, herself, and their child. Her own turmoil is enough to bring tears to her eyes, and Quinn lowers her gaze.

"And the Messenger will be performing!"

Mary delights, and Quinn's tears fall.

"I'm sorry. It's just so hard to contain myself lately," Quinn places a hand upon her stomach, indicating the baby within. Even now, she doesn’t yet know that it is a reality. She has no idea that she truly is pregnant, and that her lie was indeed the truth.

Her free hand lifts to gently wipe the continuously falling tears from her cheeks, and through her sorrows she finds the will to smile. Anything to sell it, anything to keep Gideon safe. There is no line she would not cross for him, and she owes him so very much for loving her so well. Despite Quinn bearing the brunt of their stress, Gideon keeps them alive.

"I'm just so honored."

The words are barely choked out before a deep breath is taken, leaning into the back of the bench as if the warm, worn wood provides her a comfort. She is exhausted.

“But please, Magnolia, there is no rush. Take your time, do what you need to do. It will certainly not be the last ritual.”

And there it is.
The truth.
April 20, 2018 09:05 pm

Noli Joudain

'Magnolia won't be at the party, no.

For this, Noli was grateful. There was a lot to be done, like attempting to lie to her uncle about disappearing for a while, because if she just up and went, the entire Joudain clan would be crawling the state just to cause a fuss over her. A good lie.

A vacation, it is. That's feasible.

She hadn't taken one in...

Six years.

Right, so she could sell it; quitting her job, taking a break, a sabbatical. Pursuing different avenues in looking for Emeline; Noli had this.

Even if the non-feigned smile that was still plastered to her, twitched as she listened avidly; she totally had this.

Even as the word sacrifice came up and the slight dimple at the right corner of her mouth faded; Noli knew she could do this.

Quinn just means a goat. That's all it is.

BECAUSEIFTHEREISADEADBODYSHEWILLGAG.

Breathe.Smile.Exhale.

Breathe.

"I'm sure all of you will be excellent teachers. I really do have so much to learn."

Fudging understatement of the year.

She took the time to absorb the information, while studying the other two women; the youngest, it was hard to not smile at her exuberance, there really wasn't a single dark thought coming off of her. The other, Sarah -why the frick does everyone seem to have biblical names in cults- she was a little more difficult to process; distrust was totally understandable but dang, this rolling darkness that had hit Noli in the pit of her stomach.

Well.

Maybe it was the whole dead body, sacrifice thing.

Awesome.

There would be no turning back, especially with a crying blonde next to her and Noli knew for a fact it wasn't because of her happiness over participating in some ritual; Magnolia also knew that every step from here on out would be evaluated and what she did next probably wouldn't buy her any favors with the eldest of the girls, but it was necessary.

"It was lovely meeting the two of you and I'm sure we will get along splendid once I'm able to join y'all. If you all don't mind, I'd love to speak to my sister alone for a short goodbye, I'm sure you understand, right, sugar?"

She didn't address Mary, that one seemed safe enough that Noli didn't think she'd have to try and win her over; no, she would address the eldest and pray that her saccharine tone didn't come off as condescending but instead genuinely asking for permission; even if she was having a hard time doing so.

At least it paid off, although they wouldn't go as far as Noli would have liked; she would still stand, after clipping the lead to her dog's collar and move in front of Quinn, blocking her mouth as she spoke whispered words and the worry in her hazel eyes.

Not anxious for herself, because she had never felt the need to concern herself with her own issues.

No, she was bothered by the bleak shadow of what was to come and it had nothing to do with a ritual.

Magnolia worried about Quinn.

"This kind of stress isn't good for the baby, sister dear. Also, you should be on your toes, something's coming. Just... Trust me."

Omnious. Yes. But how do you tell someone, oh, that thing my grandmother had, the whole psychic, empath thing; yeah, so apparently, it's hereditary.

Probably like that.

But honestly, Noli was still stuck on the sacrifice bit from earlier and wasn't exactly thinking clearly.

Dead bodies.

Ugh, gag.
April 23, 2018 02:11 pm
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