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    Justin4Fun
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
This is Book 2 of the "New Reality" Series; reading 'Re-Birth', Book 1, is highly recommended.

Re-Forging - 7. Chapter 7

As we approached the house, we shifted into human form. I was reaching for the front door when it opened. Mary stood there, glaring at us. “Get yer arses around back! Baron or no, you track mud into my front room, I’ll tan yer hide.”

We instantly replied with ‘Yes, ma’am’ or ‘Yes, Grandma.’ We did an about-face and headed around the house. When we were rounding the garage, Tommy joked, “Maybe I do have to protect you from her, Greg.”

We were all still laughing as we entered the shower room that served the pool and workout room, the same one Billy had run to yesterday. I had been so focused on Billy that I didn’t get a chance to examine the room. There was a vanity with two sinks, a sauna, a toilet, and a large shower with six showerheads. We quickly washed off the mud and dried off, rushing up the stairs toward the smell of bacon.

When we entered the kitchen, Mary raised an eyebrow when I headed toward the counter. Scott grabbed my arm and dragged me up to our room, explaining that the last time he and Billy had tried to eat naked, Mary had put their plates on the floor, saying that if they wanted to dress like animals, they could eat off the floor like animals.

I quickly grabbed a pair of shorts and a shirt that Scott had packed for me and pulled them on. When we came back down, Chris and Mike were already eating. We joined them, and when I loaded up my plate, Chris commented that I needed to watch what I was eating if I wanted to maintain my wrestling weight. I turned to James, who warned me that, yes, vampires can get fat if they eat too much human food. He also said that, while I am stronger than most humans, I would also need to exercise if I wanted to stay in top shape.

After breakfast, Billy said he was going to grab a short nap. Mike said he and Chris needed to head home. Before leaving, Mike asked us to meet him at the courthouse half an hour before our nine o’clock court appearance. James asked about our plans as they drove away, reminding us we should leave shortly before lunch. Scott asked if he could show me James’ car collection, and James decided that he would give me the tour himself.

James led us down the driveway toward the gate. I was asleep when we arrived, so I hadn’t seen the large building we encountered after walking just over the first rise. It was obviously built for car storage, roughly the size of a football field, with eight garage doors on the front wall. As we entered, I first noticed the floor; it was concrete with some sort of patterned stone flake paint. Unlike garages I’d been in before, this floor was spotless.

The next thing I noticed was that the building was air-conditioned. James explained that it allowed him to control the humidity and dust. After turning on the lights, he asked if we wanted just to wander or have him tell us about each car. Scott said he knew the stories of each, but they sounded better coming from James, so we followed him to the furthest corner and helped him pull a silk cover off one of the oldest cars I’d ever seen. It looked like an old horse-drawn buggy with a bench seat, a canvas roof on a folding frame, and a bar instead of a steering wheel. I noticed there was a bicycle chain that ran from the engine to the rear axle.

“This is the first horseless Donna and I ever owned. It’s a 1902 Oldsmobile Model R, commonly called a ‘Curved Dash’. They were very popular and could easily reach a speed of twenty miles per hour.”

After replacing the cover, we turned and examined the bright blue hot rod sitting next to the Olds. James explained that this was their second car, a 1923 Model T that he modified in the 1950s with a V-8, lowered suspension, and no hood.

Next to this was a car that made me think of Al Capone. The emerald-green classic had a long slim hood, spare tires on both sides, running boards, and a low canvas convertible top over the four-door passenger area. When I asked, James said it was a 1930 Packard Deluxe Eight Dual-Cowl Sport Phaeton and was the first time he had hired a driver.

James pointed at an old green and black pickup. “This is the first truck we bought after we bought this farm. It’s a 1928 Model A.”

“Is this the one you had to back up the hills, Dad?”

“It is, Scott, but only when it was low on gas.” When Scott and I both looked at him, James explained, “See how the gas tank is mounted above the engine? It uses gravity to feed the engine; it sometimes shut off if the tank is low while climbing a hill. We quickly learned to keep a gas can handy.”

Next to the Model A was a red and black 1946 Chevrolet pickup, then a teal 1959 Chevrolet Apache, and finally, a blue and white 1972 Chevrolet ¾ ton pickup that James said was his first vehicle with four-wheel drive. When I asked why the last three were Chevrolet, he told us how he had bought the Chevrolet dealership from the previous owner's widow shortly after the war.

Next came a group of Cadillacs: a 1948 Series 62 Custom in a beautiful maroon, a jet black 1959 Eldorado, a maroon 1965 Coupe Deville, and a white 1976 Eldorado convertible. James told us this was one of 200 copies of the ‘last’ Cadillac convertible, and investors of the day were scrambling to purchase them. Six years later, when Chrysler brought back the American convertible, a group of those who had bought the Cadillacs as collector’s items tried to sue General Motors for devaluing their investments; they lost.

In front of the Cadillacs was a silver 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL, more commonly known as a ‘gull-wing’ Mercedes. Beside that was a red 1984 Porche 911 and two muscle cars. James said the orange one was a 1971 Plymouth Roadrunner, and the green one was a 1974 AMC Javelin. The two cars past the Javelin were the ones that surprised me the most.

The first was a well-worn 1995 Ford Taurus, and sitting proudly beside it was a 2007 Toyota Camry. When I said they seemed out of place in a car collection, James simply explained that this garage held all the cars he and Donna had used daily over the years. In another garage, he had cars he had purchased as investments or simply because he liked them. Scott told me that his brother and grandfather also had similar collections, but his grandfather had recently broken their tradition and sold one of the cars he had purchased new. I was about to ask what that car was when the door opened, and Tommy walked in.

“If we’re going to get your suits this afternoon, My Lord, we need to be going. I assumed Your Lordships would want to shower before we leave?”

I glared and started to remind him how I felt about the ‘Lordship’ stuff when Scott thanked him, then turned to me. “He’s just doing his job, Babe. If he called you Greg, it would have sounded like an adult reminding the kids that it’s time to go. The way he said it made it clear he’s simply keeping the boss on schedule. You’re going to have to get used to it.”

I turned to James, but he simply shook his head. I sighed and turned back to Tommy. “Thank you, Tommy. Yes, we’ll shower and be ready to leave in an hour.”

With a nod and a slight smirk, he replied, “As you wish, My Lord.”

Scott and I had showered and were getting dressed when Billy walked in. “I don’t think I should go with you on this trip, Greg. You’ll be busy with court; I can’t do anything there. Then you have that meeting with your friends on Saturday, and my being there would just cause more questions.”

“And what will you do while we’re gone?”

Billy smirked. “Same things I’ve done here all my life, Greg: help Grandma and study. I need to be ready when you finally get a Barony.”

I looked at Scott, but he just shrugged. “He’s right.”

I sighed. “Well, let’s hope you have a long time to get ready; it will mean I have a long time to get ready. Oh, and I might test if our mental connection will work at that distance, so don’t be surprised if you get a message.”

Billy smirked and headed out of the room. A minute later, he replied, “Yes, My Lord,” through our connection.

I had started packing the things Scott brought for me, but he reminded me that we’d be returning on Saturday, and I had a house full of clothes at home. With that in mind, I left everything except the shorts and shirt I was wearing, along with my suit, just in case something went wrong at the tailors' shop. I was climbing into the Escalade when Scott turned and ran back inside. When I yelled to ask him why, he replied mind to mind, “Dress shoes for the tailor.”

We’d been on the road for an hour when Tommy told us there was a cooler in the back with sandwiches and stag’s blood for us to share. As Scott reached for it, I gave Tommy a nod of thanks in the mirror. That reminded me of a question I had.

“Why do I see our reflection in most mirrors but not all? I thought vampires didn’t cast a reflection?”

Scott had a mouthful of sandwich, so Tommy explained. “In the past, the backs of most mirrors were coated with silver. Today, most are coated with aluminium. Silver doesn’t reflect our image, hence the story's origin.” I grinned when he pronounced it ‘ah-loo-min-ee-um’ instead of the American ‘ah-loo-mi-num.’

“So, I don’t have to avoid mirrors? That’s good.”

“Actually, you need to be very careful and notice any mirrors around. As Tommy said, most mirrors today are aluminum-backed, but not all. Antiques and higher quality furniture still use silver, as do many industrial applications.” Scott explained. “I’m glad you mentioned it because the tailor shop has a silver mirror in their back room. Dad noticed it when he visited the shop a few weeks ago.”

I nodded. “Then I’ll have to avoid going into the back room. What about the fitting rooms up front?”

“They were fine. Remember, I was in one trying on my stuff, then came into the one you were in while you were trying on the shirts.”

“And how do I know if it’s backed with silver without actually walking up to check if I have a reflection?”

Scott shrugged. “With experience, you’ll learn how to see the difference without approaching them. I could tell that small mirror in your dad’s room was silver, so I did my best to avoid it.”

“Well, you failed; I saw your lack of a reflection. I thought it was a trick of the lights because you were fixing your hair in the mirror when I turned around.”

Scott winked and explained, “You’ll learn that distraction can be your friend with humans.”

We finished the sandwiches and were enjoying the stag’s blood when Tommy caught us up on events. Leonard was already in Toronto to pick up our Denali and drive it to the farm. He would be there when we returned on Saturday. Rather than fly with all their belongings, he arranged shipping for most of them.

“Does this mean you’ll be short of clothes?” I asked.

“Just for a few days. I’ll make do.”

I shook my head. “No. While we’re at the mall for our suits, you’ll pick up what you need and give me the bill. And don’t try to argue. I’ve turned your life upside down; it’s the least I can do. Tell Leonard to pick up anything he needs as well. I’m sure Mary and Billy can help him find the stores he’ll need.”

Tommy nodded, and I saw his eyes shift out of focus as he contacted his mate, mind to mind. While he did this, I tried to contact Billy to tell him the plan. I was happy to find that talking with Billy mind to mind at this distance was no more complicated than it had been when standing in the same room. He said he would take care of things and asked if there was anything else he needed to do. I couldn’t think of anything.

Tommy parked, and I had the door open before he could come around to it. “I understand you’re not used to this, My Lord, but please let me at least look around before you exit a vehicle?”

I sighed. “Sorry, Tommy. I’ll get used to this, I promise. It’s just that I’ve been coming to this mall since I was a kid. I really don’t expect a problem here.”

“The times you don’t expect a problem are when bad things happen.”

I nodded. “You are right, Tommy. I’ll try to keep that in mind. And please, around here, try to use Greg. Lots of people know me, and if they hear ‘My Lord,’ it will cause too many questions.”

“And you are right on that one, Greg. I’ll do my best.”

Tommy followed us to my left and a step behind as we walked toward the mall entrance. Once inside, I suggested he walk at my side like a friend rather than behind me like a servant. He didn’t argue, and we three walked side by side into Barton’s.

“Ah, Mr. Fowler, welcome back. You’re in luck; we had a customer call and cancel their order, so we were able to have all three of your suits finished.” Bob turned to Scott, adding, “Your things are also ready, Mr. Warnick. Is the senior Mr. Warnick not with you?”

“I’m sorry, he couldn’t make it today. I can take his with me; if there’s a problem, he can bring them in sometime.”

“Of course, Sir. If you wait a moment, I’ll be right back with Mr. Fowler’s suits first, if that’s acceptable?”

I nodded, and Bob left us. He had just passed through the door to the back room when Sam came out. “Would you like to check the fit of your things, Mr. Warnick?”

Scott was about to answer when I spoke up. “Our friend here needs a suit or two, if you don’t mind, Sam?”

Tommy glared at me as Sam walked him to a platform and began measuring him. When Sam reached to measure his chest, I heard Tommy explaining about his handgun. Sam seemed unfazed and simply asked if he always carried it in a shoulder holster. Tommy explained that he did, but usually, he carried a second weapon at his waist. They were discussing this when Bob returned with my suits. He handed me the grey pinstripe and pointed to the changing room. He didn’t bat an eye when Scott followed me inside.

As I pulled the trousers up, I thought Bob had handed me the wrong suit. The legs were tight through the thighs, and the waist was loose when I buttoned them up. When I pulled the jacket on and couldn’t button it, the problem dawned on me. I quickly reached out to James, mind to mind. After I explained the problem, he suggested I speak with Tommy.

I stuck my head out of the door and called Tommy over. After explaining the problem and my theory, Tommy confirmed that Leonard had grown slightly when he changed. When I showed him the suit, he said that Leonard had not changed as much as I had, but my extra growth might be due to my age. Regardless of the cause, it was obvious that I couldn’t wear these new suits. I shrugged at Scott, and we headed out to meet Bob.

His eyes bulged in shock as I approached him, and he stuttered an apology. “I don’t know what to say, Sir. We’ve made mistakes in the past, but never have we been so far off. Let me get a larger suit, and we’ll adjust it quickly. I promise we’ll have one ready within the hour and the others tomorrow.”

I nodded, returned to the dressing room, removed the suit, and returned to the platform wearing a pair of basketball shorts and a tee shirt. As he was measuring me, he was muttering about how unusual it was that I had gained four inches in my chest, two in my shoulders, and grown two inches taller, all while losing an inch from my waist. From the tone of his voice, I knew he would be repeating this story to anyone who would listen. I realized that could be a problem, and I could only think of one solution.

The next time he made eye contact, I pushed my mind out and made a connection like I had with Chris. When I knew I had succeeded, I planted the idea that there had been no mistake; I had simply changed my mind about which suits I wanted. He was to forget the old measurements and simply rush my new suits. With that dealt with, Scott gathered the suits that wouldn’t fit me. We’d figure out what to do with them later. For now, we needed to distract Sam. Tommy picked up on what was happening and quickly drew Sam’s attention by pulling two suits off the rack and asking if they could have them ready by that evening.

After figuring out what size I needed, I went to the shirt section, gathered half a dozen, and carried them to the counter. I picked out a few ties, added them to the stack, and, after paying almost triple the standard tailoring fee, left with promises of all the suits ready by 6 PM.

Once we left, Tommy turned to me and said, “Very quick thinking, My… er, Greg. Well done.”

Scott nodded. “Yeah. Dad will be proud of you.”

“I couldn’t think of anything else to do. He was so confused by the change in my measurements; I knew he would talk to everyone about it. I was afraid that might cause too many questions.” I glanced at my watch. “Well, we have two hours to waste. What else do you need, Tommy?”

Tommy told us what he needed, and we all headed to the discount department store at the end of the mall. Scott and I also needed some things, so it wasn’t a waste of a trip. As we shopped, I asked what I thought were silly questions. Things like do I still need to shave, brush my teeth, or get my hair cut? After laughing, Scott and Tommy informed me that my hair was still growing, and while my teeth might not decay, my breath would certainly smell if I didn’t brush them. As we were shopping, I questioned why we hadn’t noticed the changes before today.

“All the clothes you had with you were loose fitting. Even your old suit used to hang off your body, though we might have noticed if you had put the jacket on.” Scott explained.

“Yeah. Dad told me to get it a bit too big because I was working out and still growing. I like my casual clothes loose; maybe I should get some tee shirts and shorts?”

Scott shrugged. “All that stuff didn’t seem too bad. Maybe wait a few weeks and see if you grow more before you worry about it. We will need to get you more business casual stuff, but I think we should get that somewhere other than Barton’s.”

I frowned at that. “Bob and Sam treated us great; why would we go elsewhere?”

Tommy said, “Seeing you too often might trigger that man’s memory, Greg. You’ve enthralled him, but you’re new to doing it. It’s best to get the new suits and vanish from his life. If he does have a flash of memory, he’ll brush it off as a type of dream, but if he sees you, his actual memories might begin to argue with the ones you planted.”

Before I could reply, my beast suggested, ‘We should kill him; he’s a threat.’

I rolled my eyes and muttered, “We’re not killing him.” Then I looked at Scott and Tommy and explained, “My friend thinks he’s a threat and should be removed.”

Tommy grinned and said, “Well, I’m glad your friend has your back, but I’m also glad you have him under control.”

Scott glanced around and whispered, “And keep your conversations with him internal. Gods forbid someone overhears you and thinks you’re deranged.”

He had a point, but I couldn’t help laughing. I was still laughing as we left the store and headed back down the mall. We were passing the food court when I heard my name. Looking up, I saw the twins, and Brian headed our way. I sensed Tommy tense, and I quietly told him they were close friends and he had nothing to worry about; I was relieved to see him relax.

I saw an odd look on Jake’s face as he stopped a few feet from us. I could sense his anger and expected him to ask a question, but Brian beat him to it. “Chris said you fell. Are you ok?”

“He should have told you the whole story. I’m fine. I fell in that old barn, but no harm done.” I said, hoping they’d drop it. “What are you three doing here?”

“I had to pick Jake up from work, and Brian’s just tagging along. What about you? And who’s your friend?”

I was grateful that Scott thought quickly and answered. “Sorry guys, that was rude of me. This is Tommy; he’s a friend of my dad. Greg had to pick up a new suit, so we brought him to the mall to pick up a few things he forgot to bring from California.” As Scott was introducing Tommy to the guys, Jake kept looking at me with that odd look on his face. He only looked away long enough to shake Tommy’s hand.

Josh said, “Hate to hit and run, dude, but we gotta get home for dinner. You said we’d get together Saturday, but you never said a time.”

“Yeah, Saturday morning, say nine? At my place. I’ll tell you guys what’s been happening.”

Josh and Brian gave me a fist bump, saying they’d see me Saturday. Jake looked me in the eyes and asked, “Everything, right bro?”

I held his gaze as I replied, “Everything.”

The others exchanged fist bumps with Scott and turned to go. Jake continued to stare for a moment, then he gave Scott a fist bump and followed Josh and Brian. Tommy looked at me when they were out of earshot and said, “Your friend seems suspicious.”

I shook my head as I watched my friends leaving the mall. “He’s more than suspicious, Tommy. He knows something’s up; he just hasn’t quite figured out what. Whether he has it figured out by Saturday morning or not is a coin toss. If he hasn’t, he’ll push until I tell him. I need to ask James if I’m allowed to let them in on everything.”

We walked in silence to Barton’s. My suits fit perfectly, as did Tommy’s. I took a page out of James’ book and tipped both Bob and Sam, thanking them for the quick turnaround on these additional suits. We headed straight for the Escalade and loaded up to head home.

As we were turning onto the main road, Tommy glanced in the mirror and said, “Forgive me for saying, My Lord, but you don’t need to ask James for permission to tell your friends.”

“You misunderstood me, Tommy. I’m not asking his permission; I’m asking his advice.”

Scott squeezed my hand. “I bet he tells you to call Prince George.”

“That’s exactly what I’m afraid of, Scott. And I won’t take that bet; I know that’s what he’s going to say.”

As we drove home, we debated where to go first: my house or Scott’s. After some back and forth, we decided to park the Escalade in my garage and go from there. Once it was parked, we all grabbed the bags and headed upstairs. Scott put my new clothes in my room while I showed Tommy my dad’s room. I figured he could stay there for now. We headed over to Scott’s house after everything was unpacked and settled.

The first thing I noticed when we walked in was the new carpet and sofa. The old were covered in my blood, and I had wondered how Donna would ever get them clean. When I asked, Donna explained that being a vampire sometimes created the need for quick, quiet clean-up jobs, and there was a company that handled situations like this. I wasn’t sure which concerned me more: the fact that there was a company that handled cleaning up what looked like a crime scene or the fact that Donna had quick access to their number. Tommy had asked about Scott’s library, so while they went upstairs, I headed for James’ office.

James looked up when I got to the door. “What can I do for you, Greg?”

“I need some advice, James, if you have a minute?”

“Take a seat and tell me about it.”

James sat with his fingers tented as I told him about my enthralling Bob and why. I told him about running into my friends and our conversation. I told him how tenacious Jake can be when he wants something. Then, I asked if I had handled Bob correctly. I asked if I should tell my friends everything.

When I asked what he would do, James remained silent for quite a long time, so long that I was about to ask him again when he spoke. “I’ll start by saying that what I would do isn’t necessarily what you should do. I feel you handled Bob as I would have, and I have no doubt that his memories are dealt with. I’m confident we’ll have no issues with him.

“As to what you should do with your friends, it’s a complicated situation. If you hold back and they later discover the truth, you risk losing their trust. If you tell them everything and one of them betrays your trust and tells the world that we exist, they will have to be dealt with.”

“Meaning they’ll be killed,” I said rather than asked.

James nodded. “As will you. Our existence can’t become common knowledge, and if someone you’ve trusted risks that, you will have to answer for it. Even George couldn’t protect you, even if he wanted to.”

I thought for a few minutes, then said, “I could enthrall them and forbid them from telling anyone.”

“You could, and that would prevent them from intentionally telling anyone, but we’re talking about teenagers. They’re just as likely to let it slip accidentally. I don’t know that I’d trust my life and the lives of my best friends to your enthrallment being that strong.”

“Scott said you’d tell me to ask George for his advice.”

James gave a slight shrug. “You could call him, but I’m willing to bet that he’ll simply repeat everything I’ve said.”

"Wouldn't he either outright tell me that I shouldn't share this with them or give me the go-ahead to do so?"

“He would do neither, Greg. He would look at this as a test for a new Baron and probably look at it like I do. It’s simply not my decision to make.”

I sighed. “No, I guess it’s on me. If you tell me to tell them and it goes bad, your life is in danger. If you tell me not to tell them and I lose their trust, I might blame you.”

“Not exactly eloquent, but succinct. To put it in more basic terms, Greg, when it comes to telling your friends, the buck stops with you.”

I sighed and stood. “Thanks, James. I guess I have a lot to think about.”

James remained silent as I left the office. I wanted to talk about this with Scott, but that wouldn’t be fair to him. This was my responsibility. I had to decide if I could trust my friends with my life. I contacted Scott, mind to mind, and told him I was heading to my house and asked if he’d give me a few hours alone. After I had assured him that I was fine and just needed some time to contemplate, he told me he’d join me in bed in a few hours.

I undressed and climbed into bed, hoping that sleep would give me the answers I needed. Unfortunately, sleep was determined to evade me.

Copyright © 2023 Justin4Fun; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
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Greg’s life has changed. Those who knew the old Greg are bound to notice the difference in his physical appearance and his circumstances if he is to retain his old friendships he must be able to share his truth or extricate himself completely. He will never be able to have other close human friends if he isn’t brave enough to share his secret and risk the consequences. 

 

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Excellent chapter: actually, a lot of information given just done with panache.  I do think that deciding how much to trust his friends will prove hard for Greg, he has such an honest nature, but death is a significant deterrent.  

I like how Greg, Scott, and Billy interact; and Tommy makes the perfect foil.  I can't wait for his significant other to arrive.  I want to see how he interacts with this group..  

Imagine being able to buy something that at the time was just something you needed to use; bit the ability to hold onto it and take care of it makes it appreciate in value all out of belief.  

Excellent chapter, can't wait to see what you do next.

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1 minute ago, mansexlover said:

I wouldn't like to be in Greg's shoes... quite a quandary he finds himself in 

Sadly, nothing in life is easy, and every action we take has consequences. Hopefully, Greg will make the right choice; only time will tell.

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Greg is in a quandary, and I wouldn't want to be him.  His decision will either cause him to split with long-time friends, or trust completely in them and tell them the truth which could endanger them all.  It also brings up the question of how he will handle the same problem with his dad.  I learned some interesting things about this new AU you have created.  Good chapter.

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