Jude Priestly Journals, Entry 5

Nov. 14th Year 1 of the Vow

Nike hung out for a few weeks until my parents contacted me and said they were on their way back. I hadn’t lived in Manhattan since I was a child. Therefore, Nike swore that was enough reason to explore the sites. People often mistook us for a couple. In the beginning, Nike clarified we were just friends, but the last couple days when we were out and about she corrected no one.

She helped me unpack the boxes and arrange the furniture. She deliberately kept her chick brain off so my parents wouldn’t suspect I had help.

The time we spent arranging the loft reminded me of the time Celly and I moved-in together. It was the first moment I felt like I had a home again after being separated from my family. 

For the first week, every night, we ended the day eating junk food and watching Webflix on my laptop on the living room floor. She would fall asleep first. She was also the first to rise. She would have fresh coffee and pastries from a nearby coffee shop ready for consumption. By day three, she brought a bag of her things back to the loft with her so she didn’t have to keep leaving just to change her own clothes.

Week two, we would go to the market and pick out fresh ingredients to cook dinner. I thought mom was the best cook in the world. I was wrong, it was Nike. Celly was never much of a cook. I did the cooking, but it was exciting to eat food made by someone who wasn’t my family.

It was too easy to fall into conversation with Nike. Whether we were on opposing sides of a topic or the same, it was like going on a safari in each other’s minds. I never had that with anyone, not even Celly.

Celly was a labor to talk to. We were silent in each other’s company most of the time. When we did talk, we were arguing. She always felt like I was judgemental. I just felt like I needed to protect her all the time. Sure, I policed her outfits a bit, and I tried to tell her to cool it on her drug intake, but I didn’t like the woman I loved becoming a chaotic trainwreck. I never felt like Celly let me into her soul, but with Nike I felt like she was holding nothing back from me.

When we got talking about age, and I learned that Nike was older than me, she was my brother’s age. If he were alive, they would only be a week apart in age. Then she dropped the most awkward fact that almost made me instantly fall out of love with her.

“I can’t believe my dad and your parents arranged for Levi and I to get married. You’re way different than Levi.” She confessed.

“You were engaged to Levi?” I said trying not to choke on the salmon she grilled.

“I shouldn’t have said anything, it’s just… I didn’t really connect with him like I’m clicking with you…” She explained.

Her saying that made my heart melt. She was admitting that she liked me too. I needed proof though, “You mean, you would have preferred if our parents matched you with me and not Levi?”

“Are your ears broken?” She questioned dropping her fork. 

At the table, she never sat across from me, but one side adjacent to me. In that moment, she leaned on her elbow, already on the surface of the table, and she leaned close to my ear. She whispered in my ear, “I’d totally prefer to be Mrs. Jude Priestly.”

She wasn’t lying. Our mutual attraction and connection to each other created an intense vibe between us. It was dangerous to imagine how a kiss between us would make us feel.

Then she settled back into her seat, she picked up her fork, and continued to eat her dinner.

Week 3, she slept out on the couch and I slept in my room. That would always be the plan, but I would wake up to her screaming in her slumber from night terrors. I would rush into the living room every time thinking the loft got discovered by demons or witches ready to fight, but when I noticed there was no threat… I would lay my defenses down and go wake her up. She would beg me to stay with her until she fell asleep. The last few nights of her stay, I restarted our Webflix streaming to offer her comfort without forcing her to ask for it.

We went out to breakfast the day my parents were expected to come back to town, since we didn’t know their arrival time we wanted to spare them from assuming anything from the vibe us together did to the atmosphere.

“Can we exchange numbers? So you know, I can text you SOS when I’m running into hell to save souls.” Nike casually asked for my digits.

“Let’s be real, I’ll be texting you to rescue my butt.” I joked.

We laughed together as we switched phones to enter each other’s numbers.

After we finished eating, we sat and talked about normal things. Politics, hot topics, pop culture, and music. A group of gals getting brunch noticed I was Jude from Jude and the Jordans and they bombarded our table to take photos with me. The fangirls complained about the band disbanding, and I didn’t comment on it.

A gorgeous blonde, with a sweet spirit started flirting with me and though I did not flirt back, Nike was jealous, I felt it. The girls were so obsessed with me they picked up the check. That was when I took Nike by the hand, and said my wife and I had to go. The looks on the faces of the fangirls were classic.

Out on the sidewalk, darting away from the restaurant and escaping around the corner, Nike stopped running but since she didn’t let go of my hand, I had to stop too.

“We’re married now. We move fast. I don’t recall sharing a first kiss yet.” She said.

“I was just trying to get a rouse out of them. I’m sorry-,” she shut me up by pinching my lips shut with her fingers.

“You’re the worst flirt. Do you want to kiss me or not?” She asked locking eyes with me.

All of me wanted nothing more than to kiss her, but I was scared to do that. What would that mean if we kissed? What would we become? Could we control ourselves and stop at just kissing? Maybe she could, but I wasn’t sure about myself.

Kissing Ari– Celly– awakened urges in me that took hours of prayer to get out of my system… That, or a cold shower.

She must have sensed my fear because she released my lips from her finger death grip and turned away from me saying, “Forget it. Forget I flirted. Forget I said anything about liking you.”

Quickly, I grabbed her by the hand and I spun her around to face me.

“No, I like you a lot, but don’t you think we’re moving a bit fast here? Also, you’re okay with dating a man?”

She yanked her hand free. “I identified as bisexual in my old life. I dated men but I was always attracted to women too. Brynn– Isabella– was the first woman I actually dated and fell in love with. Knock yourself off your pedestal and stop thinking that you’re such a catch, so great you snagged a lesbian!”

“Noted. Humbled thanks to you,” I said.

She rolled her eyes, shaking her head side to side, a little disgusted with me. 

“I’m just not ready to date. I know that and I think I’m just looking for excuses to…” I fall quiet. I didn’t want to lie. I added, “I’m just looking for excuses to not date right now.”

“Fine. You take all the time you need, but now you won’t kiss me until our wedding day.” She winked at me.

I chuckled.

“You’re convinced we’ll be married one day?”

“I am very determined. I get what I want.”

“What about what I want? I have free will.”

“Even great men were manipulated by enigmatic women that influenced their decisions. But great women are fine solo. With or without you, I’ll be a great Nazarite, but you could only become great if you had a woman like me.” Nike explained with her unique sense of logic.

“Wow, tell me, did it hurt when you landed on your butt from Pride Tower?”

Smiling crookedly, she nodded her head up and down, “Well, lover boy these three weeks were hot and definitely worth their own diary… I’ll text you when I’ve made it to my next destination safely.” She walked away from me.

“Wait, what about your stuff? It’s still back at the loft.” Though I know she could hear me she kept walking away.

Father and Mother were waiting for me when I returned. Father was reading an actual newspaper on the couch, while mother was at her laptop at the kitchen table.

“Nice job on the loft. I honestly didn’t think you would do anything.” Father said turning the page of the large, flimsy paper.

“Thank you sweetheart for arranging everything. I’m proud of you.” Mother said crazily typing away at her keys, not prying her eyes from the laptop screen.

I stood by the door waiting for them to update me on their trip. Once I realized they were going to sit on the info they had, I said, “Welcome home. I missed you both.”

Mother removed her reading classes from her face, and folded them up to set them on the kitchen table. She closed her laptop, stopping her work. 

Father also folded up his paper and tossed it onto the coffee table.

In unison, they got up from their places and came together to present a united front.

“We prayed a lot on our journey back and we think the time has come for you to branch out on your own. You completed your training. Truthfully, the many things left to learn can only be gained through experience.” Father shared.

I eagerly wanted to know what they learned in Turkey, but if they discovered anything I needed to know, they would tell me. I can’t ask about it.

“Take the week to pray and to understand where the LORD calls you to go on your own. Once you know, we’ll get you added to the family account and authorize you to make necessary purchases through it.” Mother added.

WHAT DID THEY LEARN IN TURKEY?! 

Suddenly, they’re treating me like an adult now?

Okay, I haven’t journaled about how much they babied me during training up to New Mexico. I may never fully journal how badly because I wouldn’t want that embarrassment in my grave, but this directive from them was hard to process. A twinge of fear started to gnaw at the back of my mind.

I was only on my own in Nevada a few weeks, then I got a roommate and then after that I moved in with Celly. I’ve never lived on my own. Was it good for man to be alone? Scripture says NO!

I joke, “I really thought you two wouldn’t let me branch out until I got married.”

“Is that what you want?” Mother asked.

Clearly, no, right? I don’t know.

“We tried to arrange a marriage for your brother, but I don’t think he was happy with our selection.” Father said.

I couldn’t ask who they arranged for Levi to marry and be able to hide the vibe that I’m hiding something, like withholding the information a woman stayed here with me while they were away.

“Sadly, he passed before they completed their courtship.” Mother said choking up at the thought of Levi. She turned to hide her tears with her face buried in father’s chest. He wrapped her in his arms and soothingly rubbed her back. He rested his chin on her head, looking at me he continued to speak on this manner.

“I guess we didn’t take into consideration you went from a worldly relationship to cold turkey single, with years out of practicing a functioning relationship with the LORD. Do you trust us to find you a suitable mate?”

“Can I express a preference?” I asked. 

What am I doing? It was the twenty-first century and arranged marriages in America were dead.

“That would be different.” Father pondered.

“Your parents didn’t arrange for you to marry mother.” I mentioned.

Mother turned out, back toward me, and wiped her eyes as she stepped out of father’s arms.

“And because your father picked me, we had to wait for his father to tell him when we could marry. I spent years waiting with anticipation when the day would come I would marry Joshua Mark Priestly. TORTURE. I don’t wish that on any woman.” Mother explained going back to the dining table. She reclaimed her seat with her laptop. She sat in the same spot Nike sat when we ate dinner together.

Father proceeded to unpack the customs of Modern Nazarite marriage customs. If parents of two Modern Nazarites match their offspring as spouses, then a courtship would take place for seven months, and at the end of which, the matched pair decided for themselves if they wanted to proceed with marriage. If a young male Modern Nazarite chose a woman to marry of his own choice, his father would decide when the two would wed and let the son know to go collect his bride, but the engaged couple were to remain apart until the father of the male Modern Nazarite decided the time had come. Starting in the late 20th century, female Modern Nazarites could share who they were interested in and the father had to approve and go speak to the male’s parents, then an arrangement was made, and the male’s parents decided on the wedding date. It was up to the male’s family if there was a courtship or not.

That seemed incredibly sexist still.

“How did Blaze marry his Navajo wife without these customs?” I questioned.

“Because he kept his Modern Nazarite life private from her. That exempted her from following the Modern Nazarite Marriage Customs.” Father said.

“You don’t have to marry Nazarite. Have you met someone already?” Mother asked busily typing away at her laptop keys again.

Before I could say anything, there was a hurried, like a panicked banging on our door. I spin around and hurry to open the door worried that could be Nike in trouble.

Covered in blood, almost like it was painted on her, Celly was distraught. She invited herself in, babbling rapidly, not making any sense. How did she even find us?

Nike was a brilliant tracker, but Celly couldn’t use GPS to save her life. And if two people who were uninvited could find our loft, how secure was our location. Father punched Celly unconscious, while mother hurried to grab her by the feet and dragged her to the terrace sliding doors.

“Why did you do that?” I yelled.

“We’ve been compromised. Get your go bag and follow the protocols, we’ll meet up with you.”

“What are you going to do with her, throw her off the terrace?” I rushed over to her. 

I snatch her legs out of mother’s hands, and gently lie her feet down. I readjust so I can pick her up by myself. Swaddling her, as she lied limp in my arms I darted her to the bathroom to clean her up.

Father and mother hollered at me, giving me commands and I drowned them out.

Celly–Ari– whoever she was right now came to me because she needed help. This wasn’t some secret ploy to hex me more… Or maybe it was… It was wrong to make assumptions without discovering why she was here. Mother and father should know better.

I locked them out of the bathroom, so I could clean her up with a little peace. They banged on the door, threatening to knock it down, if I didn’t come out and leave her alone.

I drew a bath with warm water. I stripped off her close sopping, wet with deep, dark blood. By the smell it seemed like it was mixed with human blood and gamey animal– like deer or elk. I took the decorative hand towel to use as a washcloth and submerged it in the tub water and I decided to use my body wash to rinse her clean.

Blood was smearing all over the tile floor and the side of the tub from Celly lying naked and bloodied on the ground. I examined her body only to make sure she wasn’t physically injured. I couldn’t see any fresh wounds, but I saw healed gashes and scars all over her arms, her legs, and her back I never noticed before. As Celly, her porcelain skin was flawless. I noticed she had a scar across her lower abdomen, from hip to hip, like she had a c-section.

As I went to pick her up again to put her in the tub, she clinged to me as if I was her lifeline. She pulled herself close to my ear and whispered, “You don’t know me, you don’t know me, but it’s me. I’m me. I’m finally me.”

Going on a whim, I softly said, “Caitlin…”

She yelped and started crying. I couldn’t make out her sobbing gibberish. All I could feel was her mind fog, enough fear to make one hallucinating-paranoid, and drowning shame. I thought I would feel sorrow from her, but I felt something different, a glimmer of hope.

As I placed her in the water, she began attacking me, kicking and screaming, slapping and stretching at me. I didn’t want to hurt her so I didn’t use my Nazarite strength.

One minute she would be wailing, the next she would be laughing hysterically, then she would be making animal noises like barking and growling, and real quick she would start profanely cussing me out and accusing me of kidnapping her and trying to rape her. Tired of the freakshow, it was time to help this girl.

“Caitlin!” I shouted.

Then her body started contorting and jolting in the water and she got monstrously strong, kicking me off my knees, up into the air, and my backside crashed into the door leaving a lovely dent.

Nazarite strength came with a higher threshold of pain, but pain was pain… ouch.

This woman was possessed. Clearly…

“Get out of her, you unclean spirit!” I snapped wishing I could cuss to release the tension I felt right now.

“Would you use the authority of the Son of God to torment us?” Celly– Caitlin– whatever was in her responded to my command in a devilishly deep, unhuman-sounding voice that echoed. 

Noted. A Legion Demon possessed her. That explained the shifting from one crazy notion to the next.

Father pulled the door off the hinges and he ordered me to finish the job. Mother was on her knees praying.

“You got a name?” I asked.

“Myriad. Let us flee to another offering to Satan.”

“No, I think you can rejoin your kind in the abyss, in Jesus’ name.” I said, in a sorry-not-sorry tone. It was quite cinematic if you ask me.

Simultaneously, the unclean spirit/spirits wailed like they withered with agony, as Celly’s– Caitlin’s body fell limp. To prevent injury and jolted to catch her mid fall and Caitlin gasped for air in my embrace.

“I’m free! I’m finally free!” She shouted joyously.

She pulled back, out of my arms, and stood up on her own. Instantly aware she was naked in front of men, she felt embarrassed. Father turned his back and I left one eye open to hand her the decorative towel off the rack. Once she wrapped herself up, I left both eyes open.

“I knew if I found you, I would be free.” She smiled at me.

“How did you find me?”

“Can you baptize me first? I sort of want to follow Jesus before the demons come back.”

“Of course,” I said.

“Praise God!” Mother exclaimed rising to her feet.

Yeah, my parents 180-ed a lot. When a soul decided to choose Jesus after work fighting darkness was done, we all loved to celebrate that. 

Father grabbed his Bible, while I helped Caitlin back into the bloodied water, keeping her towel on, soaking it wet.

Waiting for father to get back, mother started explaining the Gospel to Caitlin. That we’re all sinners and Jesus died, taking on the sin of man, suffering the wrath of God for us, and through sacrifice and resurrection, He connected us with our Heavenly Father again.

“Do you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and your Savior? Do you renounce your lord Satan and repent from your years of rebellion, witchcraft, and wickedness. Today, do you choose a new path, the way, the truth, and the life of Jesus Christ?” Mother asked, kneeling on her knees by Caitlin’s feet.

“Yes, I repent from my wickedness, from my witchcraft, and my rebellion, and I renounce my allegiance to Lucifer. I accept Jesus as my Lord and my Savior. I choose the Father who is in Heaven.” Caitlin confessed her faith with tears in her eyes, “I believe that God loves me.”

Father came back in and made me move to take my place. He opened his Biblee and he read scripture about Jesus’s baptism. He then explained that Jesus was the Son of God and that anyone who believed in Him had eternal life.

“Do you believe you have eternal life, Caitlin?” Father asked.

“Yes,” she nodded, crying happy tears.

Father directed her to hold her nose and to close her eyes, “Then, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, I baptize you.” And cautiously, he dunked her and brought her back up.

She rose out of the water grappling my parents by their necks, hugging them in sheer gratitude. 

“Thank you so much.” She said.

Mother was on board with cleaning her up now, she escorted Caitlin out of the tub and took her to my parents master bathroom to take a real shower. She would also lend her something to wear.

Father and I cleaned up the bathroom demon-possessed Caitlin wrecked.

We all got finished around the same time and trickled to gather in the living room.

Father sat at the edge of the coffee table, mother sat on the end of the couch closest to father, and Caitlin sat in the middle and I sat next to her on the other end.

First, mother explained, “We went to Turkey without concern for your safety, Jude. Right before leaving, we discovered the Vampira Coven ordered the hit on your brother. They ordered Satanists to make his murder look like defeat in the field, but it was planned. The Vampira Coven needed you to become a Modern Nazarite…”

“Why?” I looked to Celly– Caitlin for the answer.

“Remember three years ago, when you and the Jordans toured in Canada for six months?”

“Yeah, you– Celly didn’t go because she had to go care for a cousin that got in a bad accident?”

“That was a lie.” Caitlin hung her head and started to cry.

“One of many, obviously.” I stated. Afterwards, I realized what Nike meant a few weeks ago, I need to grow up. I didn’t need to make that comment.

“I was in Turkey, in a remote, off the map village, with a name I can’t begin to pronounce…” Caitlin said, sighing, wiping her tears with her fingers.

“Düşmüş Karanlık, loosely translated Fallen Darkness,” mother divulged, handing Caitlin one of father’s handkerchiefs.

“I was pregnant, Jude, with your daughter… That is why I was assigned to be with you, to give birth to a child sired by a Modern Nazarite… I didn’t even remember I had her. They extracted the memory of my pregnancy from Celly’s mind. I didn’t remember until after you left and Caitlin… the real me… fought her way to the surface of my consciousness.”

Nike hung out for a few weeks until my parents contacted me and said they were on their way back. I hadn’t lived in Manhattan since I was a child. Therefore, Nike swore that was enough reason to explore the sites. People often mistook us for a couple. In the beginning, Nike clarified we were just friends, but the last couple days when we were out and about she corrected no one.

She helped me unpack the boxes and arrange the furniture. She deliberately kept her chick brain off so my parents wouldn’t suspect I had help.

The time we spent arranging the loft reminded me of the time Celly and I moved-in together. It was the first moment I felt like I had a home again after being separated from my family. 

For the first week, every night, we ended the day eating junk food and watching Webflix on my laptop on the living room floor. She would fall asleep first. She was also the first to rise. She would have fresh coffee and pastries from a nearby coffee shop ready for consumption. By day three, she brought a bag of her things back to the loft with her so she didn’t have to keep leaving just to change her own clothes.

Week two, we would go to the market and pick out fresh ingredients to cook dinner. I thought mom was the best cook in the world. I was wrong, it was Nike. Celly was never much of a cook. I did the cooking, but it was exciting to eat food made by someone who wasn’t my family.

It was too easy to fall into conversation with Nike. Whether we were on opposing sides of a topic or the same, it was like going on a safari in each other’s minds. I never had that with anyone, not even Celly.

Celly was a labor to talk to. We were silent in each other’s company most of the time. When we did talk, we were arguing. She always felt like I was judgemental. I just felt like I needed to protect her all the time. Sure, I policed her outfits a bit, and I tried to tell her to cool it on her drug intake, but I didn’t like the woman I loved becoming a chaotic trainwreck. I never felt like Celly let me into her soul, but with Nike I felt like she was holding nothing back from me.

When we got talking about age, and I learned that Nike was older than me, she was my brother’s age. If he were alive, they would only be a week apart in age. Then she dropped the most awkward fact that almost made me instantly fall out of love with her.

“I can’t believe my dad and your parents arranged for Levi and I to get married. You’re way different than Levi.” She confessed.

“You were engaged to Levi?” I said trying not to choke on the salmon she grilled.

“I shouldn’t have said anything, it’s just… I didn’t really connect with him like I’m clicking with you…” She explained.

Her saying that made my heart melt. She was admitting that she liked me too. I needed proof though, “You mean, you would have preferred if our parents matched you with me and not Levi?”

“Are your ears broken?” She questioned dropping her fork. 

At the table, she never sat across from me, but one side adjacent to me. In that moment, she leaned on her elbow, already on the surface of the table, and she leaned close to my ear. She whispered in my ear, “I’d totally prefer to be Mrs. Jude Priestly.”

She wasn’t lying. Our mutual attraction and connection to each other created an intense vibe between us. It was dangerous to imagine how a kiss between us would make us feel.

Then she settled back into her seat, she picked up her fork, and continued to eat her dinner.

Week 3, she slept out on the couch and I slept in my room. That would always be the plan, but I would wake up to her screaming in her slumber from night terrors. I would rush into the living room every time thinking the loft got discovered by demons or witches ready to fight, but when I noticed there was no threat… I would lay my defenses down and go wake her up. She would beg me to stay with her until she fell asleep. The last few nights of her stay, I restarted our Webflix streaming to offer her comfort without forcing her to ask for it.

We went out to breakfast the day my parents were expected to come back to town, since we didn’t know their arrival time we wanted to spare them from assuming anything from the vibe us together did to the atmosphere.

“Can we exchange numbers? So you know, I can text you SOS when I’m running into hell to save souls.” Nike casually asked for my digits.

“Let’s be real, I’ll be texting you to rescue my butt.” I joked.

We laughed together as we switched phones to enter each other’s numbers.

After we finished eating, we sat and talked about normal things. Politics, hot topics, pop culture, and music. A group of gals getting brunch noticed I was Jude from Jude and the Jordans and they bombarded our table to take photos with me. The fangirls complained about the band disbanding, and I didn’t comment on it.

A gorgeous blonde, with a sweet spirit started flirting with me and though I did not flirt back, Nike was jealous, I felt it. The girls were so obsessed with me they picked up the check. That was when I took Nike by the hand, and said my wife and I had to go. The looks on the faces of the fangirls were classic.

Out on the sidewalk, darting away from the restaurant and escaping around the corner, Nike stopped running but since she didn’t let go of my hand, I had to stop too.

“We’re married now. We move fast. I don’t recall sharing a first kiss yet.” She said.

“I was just trying to get a rouse out of them. I’m sorry-,” she shut me up by pinching my lips shut with her fingers.

“You’re the worst flirt. Do you want to kiss me or not?” She asked locking eyes with me.

All of me wanted nothing more than to kiss her, but I was scared to do that. What would that mean if we kissed? What would we become? Could we control ourselves and stop at just kissing? Maybe she could, but I wasn’t sure about myself.

Kissing Ari– Celly– awakened urges in me that took hours of prayer to get out of my system… That, or a cold shower.

She must have sensed my fear because she released my lips from her finger death grip and turned away from me saying, “Forget it. Forget I flirted. Forget I said anything about liking you.”

Quickly, I grabbed her by the hand and I spun her around to face me.

“No, I like you a lot, but don’t you think we’re moving a bit fast here? Also, you’re okay with dating a man?”

She yanked her hand free. “I identified as bisexual in my old life. I dated men but I was always attracted to women too. Brynn– Isabella– was the first woman I actually dated and fell in love with. Knock yourself off your pedestal and stop thinking that you’re such a catch, so great you snagged a lesbian!”

“Noted. Humbled thanks to you,” I said.

She rolled her eyes, shaking her head side to side, a little disgusted with me. 

“I’m just not ready to date. I know that and I think I’m just looking for excuses to…” I fall quiet. I didn’t want to lie. I added, “I’m just looking for excuses to not date right now.”

“Fine. You take all the time you need, but now you won’t kiss me until our wedding day.” She winked at me.

I chuckled.

“You’re convinced we’ll be married one day?”

“I am very determined. I get what I want.”

“What about what I want? I have free will.”

“Even great men were manipulated by enigmatic women that influenced their decisions. But great women are fine solo. With or without you, I’ll be a great Nazarite, but you could only become great if you had a woman like me.” Nike explained with her unique sense of logic.

“Wow, tell me, did it hurt when you landed on your butt from Pride Tower?”

Smiling crookedly, she nodded her head up and down, “Well, lover boy these three weeks were hot and definitely worth their own diary… I’ll text you when I’ve made it to my next destination safely.” She walked away from me.

“Wait, what about your stuff? It’s still back at the loft.” Though I know she could hear me she kept walking away.

Father and Mother were waiting for me when I returned. Father was reading an actual newspaper on the couch, while mother was at her laptop at the kitchen table.

“Nice job on the loft. I honestly didn’t think you would do anything.” Father said turning the page of the large, flimsy paper.

“Thank you sweetheart for arranging everything. I’m proud of you.” Mother said crazily typing away at her keys, not prying her eyes from the laptop screen.

I stood by the door waiting for them to update me on their trip. Once I realized they were going to sit on the info they had, I said, “Welcome home. I missed you both.”

Mother removed her reading classes from her face, and folded them up to set them on the kitchen table. She closed her laptop, stopping her work. 

Father also folded up his paper and tossed it onto the coffee table.

In unison, they got up from their places and came together to present a united front.

“We prayed a lot on our journey back and we think the time has come for you to branch out on your own. You completed your training. Truthfully, the many things left to learn can only be gained through experience.” Father shared.

I eagerly wanted to know what they learned in Turkey, but if they discovered anything I needed to know, they would tell me. I can’t ask about it.

“Take the week to pray and to understand where the LORD calls you to go on your own. Once you know, we’ll get you added to the family account and authorize you to make necessary purchases through it.” Mother added.

WHAT DID THEY LEARN IN TURKEY?! 

Suddenly, they’re treating me like an adult now?

Okay, I haven’t journaled about how much they babied me during training up to New Mexico. I may never fully journal how badly because I wouldn’t want that embarrassment in my grave, but this directive from them was hard to process. A twinge of fear started to gnaw at the back of my mind.

I was only on my own in Nevada a few weeks, then I got a roommate and then after that I moved in with Celly. I’ve never lived on my own. Was it good for man to be alone? Scripture says NO!

I joke, “I really thought you two wouldn’t let me branch out until I got married.”

“Is that what you want?” Mother asked.

Clearly, no, right? I don’t know.

“We tried to arrange a marriage for your brother, but I don’t think he was happy with our selection.” Father said.

I couldn’t ask who they arranged for Levi to marry and be able to hide the vibe that I’m hiding something, like withholding the information a woman stayed here with me while they were away.

“Sadly, he passed before they completed their courtship.” Mother said choking up at the thought of Levi. She turned to hide her tears with her face buried in father’s chest. He wrapped her in his arms and soothingly rubbed her back. He rested his chin on her head, looking at me he continued to speak on this manner.

“I guess we didn’t take into consideration you went from a worldly relationship to cold turkey single, with years out of practicing a functioning relationship with the LORD. Do you trust us to find you a suitable mate?”

“Can I express a preference?” I asked. 

What am I doing? It was the twenty-first century and arranged marriages in America were dead.

“That would be different.” Father pondered.

“Your parents didn’t arrange for you to marry mother.” I mentioned.

Mother turned out, back toward me, and wiped her eyes as she stepped out of father’s arms.

“And because your father picked me, we had to wait for his father to tell him when we could marry. I spent years waiting with anticipation when the day would come I would marry Joshua Mark Priestly. TORTURE. I don’t wish that on any woman.” Mother explained going back to the dining table. She reclaimed her seat with her laptop. She sat in the same spot Nike sat when we ate dinner together.

Father proceeded to unpack the customs of Modern Nazarite marriage customs. If parents of two Modern Nazarites match their offspring as spouses, then a courtship would take place for seven months, and at the end of which, the matched pair decided for themselves if they wanted to proceed with marriage. If a young male Modern Nazarite chose a woman to marry of his own choice, his father would decide when the two would wed and let the son know to go collect his bride, but the engaged couple were to remain apart until the father of the male Modern Nazarite decided the time had come. Starting in the late 20th century, female Modern Nazarites could share who they were interested in and the father had to approve and go speak to the male’s parents, then an arrangement was made, and the male’s parents decided on the wedding date. It was up to the male’s family if there was a courtship or not.

That seemed incredibly sexist still.

“How did Blaze marry his Navajo wife without these customs?” I questioned.

“Because he kept his Modern Nazarite life private from her. That exempted her from following the Modern Nazarite Marriage Customs.” Father said.

“You don’t have to marry Nazarite. Have you met someone already?” Mother asked busily typing away at her laptop keys again.

Before I could say anything, there was a hurried, like a panicked banging on our door. I spin around and hurry to open the door worried that could be Nike in trouble.

Covered in blood, almost like it was painted on her, Celly was distraught. She invited herself in, babbling rapidly, not making any sense. How did she even find us?

Nike was a brilliant tracker, but Celly couldn’t use GPS to save her life. And if two people who were uninvited could find our loft, how secure was our location. Father punched Celly unconscious, while mother hurried to grab her by the feet and dragged her to the terrace sliding doors.

“Why did you do that?” I yelled.

“We’ve been compromised. Get your go bag and follow the protocols, we’ll meet up with you.”

“What are you going to do with her, throw her off the terrace?” I rushed over to her. 

I snatch her legs out of mother’s hands, and gently lie her feet down. I readjust so I can pick her up by myself. Swaddling her, as she lied limp in my arms I darted her to the bathroom to clean her up.

Father and mother hollered at me, giving me commands and I drowned them out.

Celly–Ari– whoever she was right now came to me because she needed help. This wasn’t some secret ploy to hex me more… Or maybe it was… It was wrong to make assumptions without discovering why she was here. Mother and father should know better.

I locked them out of the bathroom, so I could clean her up with a little peace. They banged on the door, threatening to knock it down, if I didn’t come out and leave her alone.

I drew a bath with warm water. I stripped off her close sopping, wet with deep, dark blood. By the smell it seemed like it was mixed with human blood and gamey animal– like deer or elk. I took the decorative hand towel to use as a washcloth and submerged it in the tub water and I decided to use my body wash to rinse her clean.

Blood was smearing all over the tile floor and the side of the tub from Celly lying naked and bloodied on the ground. I examined her body only to make sure she wasn’t physically injured. I couldn’t see any fresh wounds, but I saw healed gashes and scars all over her arms, her legs, and her back I never noticed before. As Celly, her porcelain skin was flawless. I noticed she had a scar across her lower abdomen, from hip to hip, like she had a c-section.

As I went to pick her up again to put her in the tub, she clinged to me as if I was her lifeline. She pulled herself close to my ear and whispered, “You don’t know me, you don’t know me, but it’s me. I’m me. I’m finally me.”

Going on a whim, I softly said, “Caitlin…”

She yelped and started crying. I couldn’t make out her sobbing gibberish. All I could feel was her mind fog, enough fear to make one hallucinating-paranoid, and drowning shame. I thought I would feel sorrow from her, but I felt something different, a glimmer of hope.

As I placed her in the water, she began attacking me, kicking and screaming, slapping and stretching at me. I didn’t want to hurt her so I didn’t use my Nazarite strength.

One minute she would be wailing, the next she would be laughing hysterically, then she would be making animal noises like barking and growling, and real quick she would start profanely cussing me out and accusing me of kidnapping her and trying to rape her. Tired of the freakshow, it was time to help this girl.

“Caitlin!” I shouted.

Then her body started contorting and jolting in the water and she got monstrously strong, kicking me off my knees, up into the air, and my backside crashed into the door leaving a lovely dent.

Nazarite strength came with a higher threshold of pain, but pain was pain… ouch.

This woman was possessed. Clearly…

“Get out of her, you unclean spirit!” I snapped wishing I could cuss to release the tension I felt right now.

“Would you use the authority of the Son of God to torment us?” Celly– Caitlin– whatever was in her responded to my command in a devilishly deep, unhuman-sounding voice that echoed. 

Noted. A Legion Demon possessed her. That explained the shifting from one crazy notion to the next.

Father pulled the door off the hinges and he ordered me to finish the job. Mother was on her knees praying.

“You got a name?” I asked.

“Myriad. Let us flee to another offering to Satan.”

“No, I think you can rejoin your kind in the abyss, in Jesus’ name.” I said, in a sorry-not-sorry tone. It was quite cinematic if you ask me.

Simultaneously, the unclean spirit/spirits wailed like they withered with agony, as Celly’s– Caitlin’s body fell limp. To prevent injury and jolted to catch her mid fall and Caitlin gasped for air in my embrace.

“I’m free! I’m finally free!” She shouted joyously.

She pulled back, out of my arms, and stood up on her own. Instantly aware she was naked in front of men, she felt embarrassed. Father turned his back and I left one eye open to hand her the decorative towel off the rack. Once she wrapped herself up, I left both eyes open.

“I knew if I found you, I would be free.” She smiled at me.

“How did you find me?”

“Can you baptize me first? I sort of want to follow Jesus before the demons come back.”

“Of course,” I said.

“Praise God!” Mother exclaimed rising to her feet.

Yeah, my parents 180-ed a lot. When a soul decided to choose Jesus after work fighting darkness was done, we all loved to celebrate that. 

Father grabbed his Bible, while I helped Caitlin back into the bloodied water, keeping her towel on, soaking it wet.

Waiting for father to get back, mother started explaining the Gospel to Caitlin. That we’re all sinners and Jesus died, taking on the sin of man, suffering the wrath of God for us, and through sacrifice and resurrection, He connected us with our Heavenly Father again.

“Do you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and your Savior? Do you renounce your lord Satan and repent from your years of rebellion, witchcraft, and wickedness. Today, do you choose a new path, the way, the truth, and the life of Jesus Christ?” Mother asked, kneeling on her knees by Caitlin’s feet.

“Yes, I repent from my wickedness, from my witchcraft, and my rebellion, and I renounce my allegiance to Lucifer. I accept Jesus as my Lord and my Savior. I choose the Father who is in Heaven.” Caitlin confessed her faith with tears in her eyes, “I believe that God loves me.”

Father came back in and made me move to take my place. He opened his Biblee and he read scripture about Jesus’s baptism. He then explained that Jesus was the Son of God and that anyone who believed in Him had eternal life.

“Do you believe you have eternal life, Caitlin?” Father asked.

“Yes,” she nodded, crying happy tears.

Father directed her to hold her nose and to close her eyes, “Then, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, I baptize you.” And cautiously, he dunked her and brought her back up.

She rose out of the water grappling my parents by their necks, hugging them in sheer gratitude. 

“Thank you so much.” She said.

Mother was on board with cleaning her up now, she escorted Caitlin out of the tub and took her to my parents master bathroom to take a real shower. She would also lend her something to wear.

Father and I cleaned up the bathroom demon-possessed Caitlin wrecked.

We all got finished around the same time and trickled to gather in the living room.

Father sat at the edge of the coffee table, mother sat on the end of the couch closest to father, and Caitlin sat in the middle and I sat next to her on the other end.

First, mother explained, “We went to Turkey without concern for your safety, Jude. Right before leaving, we discovered the Vampira Coven ordered the hit on your brother. They ordered Satanists to make his murder look like defeat in the field, but it was planned. The Vampira Coven needed you to become a Modern Nazarite…”

“Why?” I looked to Celly– Caitlin for the answer.

“Remember three years ago, when you and the Jordans toured in Canada for six months?”

“Yeah, you– Celly didn’t go because she had to go care for a cousin that got in a bad accident?”

“That was a lie.” Caitlin hung her head and started to cry.

“One of many, obviously.” I stated. Afterwards, I realized what Nike meant a few weeks ago, I need to grow up. I didn’t need to make that comment.

“I was in Turkey, in a remote, off the map village, with a name I can’t begin to pronounce…” Caitlin said, sighing, wiping her tears with her fingers.

“Düşmüş Karanlık, loosely translated Fallen Darkness,” mother divulged, handing Caitlin one of father’s handkerchiefs.

“I was pregnant, Jude, with your daughter… That is why I was assigned to be with you, to give birth to a child sired by a Modern Nazarite… I didn’t even remember I had her. They extracted the memory of my pregnancy from Celly’s mind. I didn’t remember until after you left and Caitlin… the real me… fought her way to the surface of my consciousness.”


To be continued…

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