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A Calculated Risk; Man, I'm bad at Math.



 
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Noli Joudain

Three months ago...

It would be a lie if Noli had to deny her involvement in driving Quinn’s father in law to be bedridden during the last few days of Gideon’s absence; luckily (she would think), her sister didn’t broach the topic, it was a lot easier if the blonde, she had sworn to protect with her own life, had plausible deniability.

Magnolia was pretty sure it wouldn’t have mattered if she were really her sister or not; if something had happened to his wife, no one would have made it out of the compound alive.

Didn’t have to be psychic to know that one.

Nor did she have to know Gideon.

Those are the kind of thoughts that have had the brunette wishing for a bullet in John instead of poison.

Yeah, she was changing.

Bit by bit, something was emerging in her.

It was too soon to tell if it was for good or... something else entirely.

The last few days together had been quiet, almost peaceful. So, it helped to have most of John and some of his followers tucked away due to some kind of “food poisoning” and with Gideon's return and his good news, the ones that staunchly followed her brother-in-law were somewhat in better spirits. But let’s be honest, no one truly knew what was going on other than being compromised, that would have even the most exuberant of cultist wondering what dire circumstances were brought to them and how life would change once they reached their new home.

For Noli, it was about finishing what she started before walking away from the life she had before.

To be fair, her life hadn’t even begun until she turned her back on everything that she thought she had wanted; perhaps one day she should thank her sister, the real one, for being who she is so that Noli could break free.

Not likely. But, it’s a nice thought.

And so, while some would travel to California with Gideon and Quinn; Magnolia and Sabine would return to her small town.

Cocodrie.

And then on to New Orleans, but first...

Home.
August 16, 2018 07:19 pm

Noli Joudain

It was never a long drive, to be frank, Noli could have made the drive every day and kept up pretenses of actually living in the home rather than hiding herself away with Quinn; but it would have done neither of them any favors with the distrustful ones and she couldn’t very well keep an eye on things while Gideon was gone if she was torn between two places. Not that her mind wasn’t already divided, but physically, it was best she had remained hidden, at least that’s what her gut instinct was telling her, and it was never wrong.

Sure, calling it gut instinct was wrong but she was still having a bit of an issue excepting what she was.

Not that she was clear on what that was anyway.

Either way, she was finding herself traveling back down a deserted street, to an equally abandoned house.

Not that it would take long before the Joudain clan residing in the small fishing village to descend upon her like locusts; but Noli was counting on that.

It’s not like she wanted to take all her possessions out of the truck herself; at least with the cousins around, it wouldn’t take anytime at all to unpack.

And then there was the problem of having no food.

She could always rely on someone bringing along sustenance.

Nosy bunch that they were, it was sometimes worth it. But after hours of dodging questions about the last few months and her sister, not to mention the endless enquiries about her life and the fact that she wasn’t getting any younger; Noli had finally reached the point where it was no longer worth it and shooed what could be considered, if you looked at the dynamics of the Joudains, just as much as the place she had called home for the last couple of months.

Except no ominous threats of death hanging over your head.

Usually.

Unless you count the whole ‘feeding a body to the bayou’ thing.

In that case, yeah, pretty much the same.

Sort of.
August 16, 2018 07:45 pm

Noli Joudain

Silence; as blissful as one would think it would be after the rowdiness of a family visit, Noli couldn’t stand being left alone with her nothing but her worn out pup and thoughts for company. She had grown accustomed to keeping busy and the noise of the “family” she had split from as they traveled West; granted a lot of the so-called noise of the last few weeks had been whispers, but it was better than the nothing she faced at this particular moment.

There were a million things for the brunette to do, to think about, to learn.

Instead, Noli would find herself quietly leaving behind the softly snoring hound and padding her way out the back door and into the noisy bayou she dearly loved; something she wasn’t sure she could leave behind but with all the weight of world leaning on her, Magnolia Joudain knew deep in her heart, once she left this home again, she would likely never return.

It was these summer nights that she would miss; sultry, humid, with the smell of honeysuckle in the air and the Spanish moss hanging in the trees like lace. Sure, she could do without the cicadas screaming and mosquitoes trying to cart her off; but the way the lightning bugs lit up the trees like stars more than made up for the few microscopic issues that living in the sticks provided.

Yeah, gators and snakes were problematic.

But not as dire as the coming months could possibly be.

Noli just needed to clear her mind.

Focus.

An attempt that would be thwarted by the errant crack of a boot upon dried timber that went off like the shot that would have been fired from the pistol that was far too easy for her to pull and zero in on whomever had dared to invade her privacy.

Tall.

Blonde.

And more Cajun than the gumbo her Tante had left bubbling on her stove.

But to be fair, the man had lived here far longer than she; where Noli was an odd mix of polite southern ways and brash Acadian upbringing, he was purely Bayou.

“Pour l’amour de Dieu! I could have shot you, you damn fool. Fonchock!” White hot anger bubbled up and settled like a weight on her chest, only one other person could truly provoke her this way and it shouldn’t be unexpected that he could do the same. That alone would have the sullen expression pull across her face as she lowered the slim gun locked in her fist and pierced him with a half-hearted glare; not that the pout forming on her lips would ever have anything to do with the fact that the snarling scowl would only come across as petulent.

“Aw, cher, you wound me; who’d think the sweet little Frecks could use that word.” That easy grin sliding across his face was hard for her to ignore, the name however would bring her hackles back up and the flash of anger that burned in her eyes made its way from her mouth before she could stop the words from being spat out.

“Maybe I’m not so sweet, yeah? Ti-Lan.”

Two could play that game.

“Don’t be calling me that, Magnolia Belle.”

Peas in a pod they were; names could provoke the slightest of ire in these two.

“THEN DO NOT CALL ME FRECKS!”

Laughter erupted from her unwanted guest and of course, this would set Noli’s teeth on edge; however, at least she no longer had to contend with the silence forcing her to face the upcoming task she had put herself on, then again, there was only reason for him to show up.

“There’s that famous Joudain temper, I was beginning to think that you had been tamed. Always madder than a wet hen, you. Now how about you be a good girl and offer your brother some of that there gumbo that set my mouth to watering and I’ll tell you why I’m here.”

There were not enough curse words in her repertoire to explain just exactly how she was feeling in this moment.

Her brother knew where she had been.

She saw it in the hardened blue eyes that no longer had laughter dancing in them.

At this moment, she was suddenly missing John Abernathy and the threat of death.

August 16, 2018 08:44 pm

Noli Joudain

She didn’t have much of a choice, moving back into the small house to feed her wayward brother was the only option; sure, Noli could have just stood in the woods all night but so could he.

Stubbornness was definitely a family trait.

But it didn’t mean she had to participate in conversation; if anything, Noli was terribly good at the silent treatment. Not that her stomach was, which is what led to an awkwardly quiet dinner between siblings that obviously thought they could out silent the other while simultaneously conveying how blatantly aggravated they were with one another through steely gazes.

It was a small victory for the younger Joudain when her brother finally let out a huff of breath and sat back to address whatever it was on his mind; truthfully, Noli dreaded it, but she knew what would be the first thing discussed.

Emeline, nah.

Deserting her real life, not a chance.

Running away to a cult, that would come later.

Oh no, it would never be something she could actually handle.

“You deserved better.”

She didn’t have to ask what he meant, honestly, it could have a been a multitude of things but Noli knew his mind was on the last time they were together; Christmas, nearly six years ago. Exactly what she had no intentions of speaking on, so the brunette would unfold her thin frame from the small chair and busy herself cleaning the dinnerware, futile attempts at drowning out her loud ass brother with running water.

“I don’t just mean that Fitzhugh kid, he deserved exactly what he got, yeah. And sure as **** didn’t belong with you. I’m talking about me, our parents... we should have been better, cher.”

It would be a downright lie if she were to say she wasn’t surprised, which shocked her even more considering her lovely little gift had prevented a lot of surprises lately; but no, this was definitely not what she was expecting from Landry. Noli wasn’t even sure why he would feel that way; she was eight when he left home and didn’t look back, she never really knew her brother and for him to feel at fault for the last time they were together as a family, didn’t seem right. Something she would have said, if she could get a word in edgewise now that he had started down this path.

“I should have been around, me. No one done right by you, Frecks, that changes now, yeah. Been back a while, watching, waiting. I could question your choices, bebette, but you do what you do for your reasons. For now, you keep your secrets. Now we gotta chew the fat about your return to Vieux Carre and then you need to get out of town, visit our parents, anything but stay here.”

It didn’t seem like that long ago that Magnolia was giving the same direct advice to her sister before she disappeared and while her food now sat like stone in her belly, a gut instinct at the problems yet to come to her, she knew her brother was right.

But first, they would have a bit of time to get to know one another.

And maybe just maybe she could figure out why she was being haunted.
August 17, 2018 01:18 pm

Noli Joudain

Two months later...

If someone had told Noli that she’d be spending all of her time practicing several different ways of self-defense and testing the limits of her ‘gift’ with her brother for the last two months, she would have never believed it, but here they were constantly yelling at one another for some small idiotic thing and then laughing as if they had not a care in the world.

Even with the weight of the world on them.

Or flying books.

At least what they perceived as the weight of the world; they both had secrets they kept and so instead of divulging and working through them, the siblings chose to focus on things that could be useful down the road, not that Noli thought psychic abilities would help him out since she couldn’t penetrate whatever barrier he had erected, but it had saved her ass a few times before, so at least now, she could almost control it.

Almost.

Not exactly.

However, she did find that learning more hand to hand and shooting with her brother was a lot of fun; another thing that had been missing in her life for the last few years. Magnolia had finally realized that she had become a bit of a bore; an old maid before she was even twenty-seven.

But now, as she sat watching family and friends gather for an Independence Day celebration (nearly a week late, mind you, everything is slower in the south), she had an easy smile painted across her face, despite the growing uncertainties in the back of her mind. Once upon a time, this small little town meant everything to her and it hadn’t changed; she had loved her life even if it was a bit boring for some; it was what she needed at the time and now that time had come to a close.

And a new chapter was nearly upon her.

“You look almost happy, little sister.” Eye rolling had become something normal over the last few weeks, so it wasn’t something she could stop, even as she tilted her hazel eyes towards the towering frame of her brother with a toothy grin firmly placed up on her face. “Did you know Alma is sleeping with Henri?”

If the entire crowd wasn’t so full of joie, there would have been no way that Landry’s boisterous laughter would have gone unnoticed; loud, full of life, and completely contagious as it were because Noli just had to join in, no way to stop it.

“You’re getting better, you. Little more practice and you’ll be fine. But you’ve already decided to go back to the Quarter, beb, yeah?”

Quiet for a few moments, Noli thought about the last few months since Emeline had disappeared; it was time for her to find out the truth, something Landry was not giving her as these last couple of months had been dotted with half-truths and his disappearances on some nights. But, as she had learned, he had spent most of his life not being an adrenaline junkie completely, he had turned to detective work himself, privately. So, he had a lot of secrets and she chalked up his leaving to job related; anything else, she didn’t want to think about.

“Well, sugar, it’s about time, yeah? We’ll stick with the plan. You’ll take the truck and Sabine. I’ll take my car and go back to N’awlins and then meet Maman on their trip in England, pacify them before we start looking in earnest for any sign of Emi. It’s all a calculated risk, right?”

His silence was answer enough, they knew it would come down to this, the splitting up and going different ways; it was the only way to really try and find answers. Well, they could have stayed together but for someone as independent as them both, this was the only natural course of action; however, instead of focusing on that at the moment, her brother pulled up an extra chair and they would quietly laugh together as he asked about old and new faces.

And the things Noli could ‘sense’.
August 17, 2018 08:17 pm

Noli Joudain

“FRECKS! Get a move on!”

She was going to kill him.

Two and a half months.

He had finally driven her insane.

Truthfully, if Noli had left the two weeks before that she had planned on, she would not be this irritable.

No, that’s a lie. She was sullen.

She was leaving her dog with him.

And he would be taking her to Quinn.

If she wasn’t so upset about leaving Sabine behind, she would have focused on just how great it would be to see the sheer panic on Quinn’s face when their brother showed up to deposit Noli’s dog that doesn’t leave her side usually... Okay, maybe not.

Quinn was going to freak.

This was a bad idea. It needed to be done. Still, very bad. (and this is why it’s taken her two weeks to even contemplate leaving her little home).

All her things, the important things, had been packed and loaded into the “it’s rare for her to drive” Bel Air; which would stay behind in New Orleans once she left to meet her parents. The same chest that had hidden the things she needed on the commune would be shipped over via someone quite questionable that her brother knew, it was probably best left alone, Noli didn’t need to know everything.

Sure, she really did.

But, nope.

And now she couldn’t look back.

Not even in the rearview.

Landry and Sabine would stay at the house in Cocodrie for a little while longer, but soon he would make his own trip west before meeting back up with her at some point down the road.

It was going to be a long and winding road, for sure.

One that first led back to her little pink cottage on Bourbon Street.

And once again, waiting around for her uncle.

Every day.

For a week.
August 18, 2018 05:02 pm

Noli Joudain

Noli had made the decision to just leave her Nonc a letter explaining things after missing him multiple times; she really couldn’t complain about not seeing him since she absolutely refused to make the trip to his home, no point in being blindsided by the rest of the Joudain clan when all she needed was to speak to him. She could have texted her favorite detective and explained things to him, perhaps he had news about Emi himself, but she could, no, would not bring him further into the family matters.

Sure, it was his job.

But, it wasn’t like she told him about the maybe dead guy she helped get rid of.

A letter would do.

And since she had already spoken to her brother’s contact, most items already sent on ahead of her; all she had to do was board a plane and live with her parents until the flat she had found in Kensington Gardens was ready.

The day she could move in would be heaven sent after any time spent with the people who brought her into this world.

First...

The letter with pertinent details; her coupe at the home on Bourbon street, any financials, all information to her and her brother’s estates. The things they needed to know if they too, went missing.

And now...

Just gotta get ‘round the dragon at the gate.

Strangely enough, the gatekeeper was not squatting behind her desk outside of her uncle’s office; maybe things would start to look up and this entire plan would go off without a hitch, probably not. The young woman could still hope for the best and prepare for the worst, sure, that’s what she was doing anyway but as long as she kept repeating it, everything would be great.

And then California.

Soon.
August 19, 2018 10:49 am

Noli Joudain

A day of reckoning.

“Magnolllliaaa Belle, oh it’s been too long. Darlin’ you look like a stiff wind could blow you away, you’ll never get a husband lookin’ like a scarecrow.” Oh sure, the screeching banshee might look like sugar couldn’t melt in her mouth but, man, could she throw shade faster than green grass through a goose all while squeezing her oldest daughter to death.

“Mama, MAAMMMA; your Estee Lauder is makin’ my eyes water, please let me go.”

“Don’t be rude now, it’s not how I raised you.”

Oh, the side-eye that one got.

“First of all, Grandmere Belle is rollin’ in her grave and so is the bevy of nannies that probably met with an early demise because of Emeline.”

This was already going swimmingly and this is why Noli had not been home in the last five years for a holiday or any ol’ reason at all; she was going to commit matricide.

Lovely.

“Where is Papa?” No way in hell was she waiting on the walking cloud of perfume that had enveloped her as she was collecting the few bags that she had brought with her; just walk and talk.

Or lose her mother.

Whatever.

“He’s workin’, honey bear. We will go shoppin’ and then meet him for lunch at La Trompette, but first Bond Street, you need clothes.” The quiet sniff of disapproval that followed her mother’s comment meant there would be absolutely no arguing from Noli, even if she was jetlagged and only wanted to shower off the stench of overpowering perfume from her skin. It seemed now it would wait and with an eyeroll, a curse to her brother for suggesting this, and a smile that was more of a grimace sent sideways toward her parent, Magnolia Belle stepped out Heathrow and into what would be an extremely painful few days.

*******************

She was going to kill them all.

And if her sister was already dead.

She’d find a Voodoo Priest or Priestess; bring her back... and kill her again.

Slowly.

At least now, she was in the Kensington Garden Flat; thankfully it was tastefully decorated because she had yet to get rid of her mother on most occasions and having her furniture shopping would have just tipped Noli right over the edge into murderess. She couldn’t be too angry at her parents, it had been years since she saw them and forgot how much fun her father could be when he wasn’t trying to be obnoxiously stuffy or how her mother looked at him when he was being graciously normal.

She also had late afternoons and nights to take in the sights; not that she was being that touristy, Noli was testing herself and while she had a decent look at a lot of strange ducks, it only took one to physically make her ill.

Male, dark hair; just the slightest brush of a mind filled with death and blood before it was locked away, unreachable once more.

A killer, yes. Emeline’s kidnapper (and maybe murderer) that was yet to be determined.

Until then...

Search. Find. Stalk.

Nothing could go wrong, as long as she kept her distance.

Right?
August 19, 2018 07:57 pm
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