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 A Prophecy of Shadows


Chapter 5




Cam and Jessie drove to Denver, then took a direct flight to San Antonio—doing so cut off about two hours flying time, and saved them from having to make a connecting flight. A short stop at the rent-a-car center in the airport, and they were on their way to Kerrville. A little cajoling on her part, and she found out they were spending Thursday and Friday with her parents, Saturday in San Antonio, and heading back to Colorado Sunday. Perfect timing since her birthday was Friday.

Before leaving San Antonio, Jessie asked Cam to stop by the local grocery store, where she picked up a couple of bouquets of flowers.

"For your mom?" he asked as she got back in the car.

"Umm…no. I’d like to make a little stop on the way to my parents, if that’s okay."

"Sure. Just tell me where."

They were driving down Hwy 27 when Jessie spoke up. "The turn is coming up, right around this curve."

Following her directions, Cam saw the entrance to the Glen Rest Cemetery. Driving between the limestone pillars, he slowly drove down the gravel path.

"You can park there," she said, pointing over to their left. Barely waiting until Cam had shut off the engine, Jessie got out of the car, flowers in hand.

Cam walked behind her, taking in the towering trees, the manicured grass surrounding all types of monuments—a mixture of statues, headstones and markers. Watched as Jessie placed the flowers in the brass vases at the base of two sets of headstones. Cam took a deep breath, the crisp, clean breeze in perfect sync with the peacefulness of their surroundings.

Jessie intertwined her fingers with his. "Thank you," she said softly.

He turned his gaze to the dual headstones, placing his arm around her shoulders as he did so.

"My great-grandparents, and my great-great grandparents," she said as she leaned against him. "They passed on before I was born, but whenever I’m out here, I stop by and bring them flowers." Felt him press his lips to her temple in a gentle kiss. "It’s just my way of saying thank you; if it wasn’t for them falling in love, creating a family, I wouldn’t be here, you know?"

Noting the dates on the weathered granite headstones, Cam asked, "Were they born here?"

"My great-grandparents were; my great-great grandparents moved down here from Kentucky. It was rough back then, after the Civil War, Texas being readmitted to the union. Indians still roamed the area…there are some people buried out in this area who died…scalped by Indians. Cattle trails went through town, going all the way to Kansas. It took a special type of person to make a home here, to raise a family." Jessie gestured to a headstone behind them. "Many of the graves here belong to children…accidents, illness, things we can easily ‘fix’ nowadays, were fatal back then." Her voice wavered. "I don’t know if I could have done it."

Cam pulled her close, wrapping his arms around her. "Yes, you could have. You’re their great-granddaughter, great-great-granddaughter. Their blood flows through your veins, their strength. I’ve seen it with my own eyes." With that he kissed her softly, cupping her face in his hands.

Jessie hugged him in return, breathing in his scent, taking comfort from his embrace. When they finally stepped apart, a movement in the distance caught Jessie’s attention. "Look," she said softly, pointing to the east side of the cemetery.

Turning in that direction, Cam saw a baby deer emerge from between the trees, its gait slightly wobbly. It was followed closely by a doe, obviously its mother. The deer didn’t seem to be disturbed by the fact they were there; the mother regarded them with a steady gaze before turning her attention back to her young one. "You know, I never thought I’d say this about a cemetery, but this is a beautiful place," he said softly.

Jessie nodded in understanding. "Beautiful, and peaceful. I can understand why so many generations have chosen this as their final place of rest."

After a moment of silence, they began walking to the car. Cam glanced over his shoulder at the graves of Jessie’s ancestors. "Thank you," he thought to himself, pondering what she had told him.




Pulling into the drive of the home Jessie grew up in, Cam couldn’t help but smile. It was a two-story white clapboard home with dark gray shutters, covered wrap around porch and a gray brick chimney going up the side. A white lattice trellis framed one side of the porch and had a climbing rose bush with large nodding yellow blooms intertwining its way up to the second story. He could see in his mind’s eye a little girl with a ponytail running down that porch, a shovel in hand, ready to dig up some treasures.

Cam had just shifted into park when the screen door opened and out came Jessie’s mom, followed closely by her dad. Jessie jumped out of the car and met her mom at the bottom of the steps, the two women embracing tightly.

"Oh, honey, it’s so good to see you! I’ve missed you so much."

"I’ve missed you too, Mom," Jessie replied, reaching out to bring her Dad into their embrace.

"Hey, sweetie; life been treating you good?"

"Yeah, it has been pretty good," she said with a grin as she turned and looked as Cam walked up to the porch. She had to make a conscious effort to keep her jaw from dropping open with what happened next.

Her mom walked up to Cam and embraced him, asking, "So how was the traffic coming up out of San Antone to 27, Cameron?"

Grinning at Jessie, he returned the elder woman’s hug. "Just like you said it would be, not too bad since we hit it before rush hour, ma’am."

"None of this ‘ma’am’ stuff, just call me m…Maggie."

Jessie’s father joined them, shaking Cam’s hand. "Did you hit any snags at the airport?"

"No sir. The rental place you recommended had everything we’d requested, ready and waiting."

He shook his head. "Same goes here," he said, looking at his wife. "No formality, just…James."

Jessie was finally able to find her voice. "You all know each other?"

Her parents’ grins matched Cam’s, and her father rested his hand on Cam’s shoulder. "Well, we got a phone call a while back from a nice young Colonel who wanted to do something special for our little girl’s birthday." With the look that she gave her father, he retorted, "Jessica, I don’t care how old you get, you’ll always be our little girl, so you might as well get used to it!" With a knowing glance at Cam, he continued. "He wanted to arrange a trip out here for you to see us, but wanted to make sure we’d actually be here when y’all got here. We got to talking, and between the three of us we planned out this little getaway for you."

Maggie nodded. "Tonight and tomorrow, being your birthday, here with us, then Saturday you and Cameron will head on out to San Antone to do some sightseeing before flying back to Colorado on Sunday."

Jessie fixed her gaze on Cam. "I should have known you were up to something."

"Hey, I told you I had been busy," he said with a laugh as he and James went to the car to retrieve the luggage.

Maggie took her daughter by the arm, lowering her voice to a conspiratorial tone. "He is just the sweetest thing, Jessie. Come on, let’s go in the house and get some coffee brewing. I made up some bread pudding with Kentucky bourbon sauce, and it’s still warm from the oven."




The day took on a surreal quality, at least from Jessie’s viewpoint. Her parents interacted with Cam as if they had known him for years. Not that they wouldn’t have shown the utmost in Southern hospitality to anyone who entered their home, but this was…different. What did surprise her was how quickly her Dad warmed up to Cam. Then again, she began to realize they had a lot in common, both having a military background, a strong sense of family, the same quirky sense of humor. Jessie groaned when she realized that if they truly bonded, then ‘quirky’ could quickly morph into ‘twisted’—her Dad was well known for his practical jokes. Paired with Cam, that could become a problem.

Maggie came up behind her daughter, looking over her shoulder at the two men in the living room. "Seem like two peas in a pod, don’t they?"

Jessie smiled. "I was just thinking that, and wondering what kind of tricks those two could conjure up together."

"Don’t say that too loudly. Your father doesn’t need any encouragement."

Following her Mom back into the kitchen, Jessie shook her head as Maggie filled one of the sinks with hot water, adding just enough dishwashing liquid to take care of the dishes from supper.

"Mom, do you ever use your dishwasher?" The brushed stainless steel appliance reflected the overhead lighting, looking as if it had never been used.

"You know me, honey. I like doing dishes."

"You’re strange, Mom."

Maggie laughed. "I do use the dishwasher every now and then." Giving a little shrug, she finished with "it’s just the way I am."

Jessie kissed her Mom’s cheek. "And I wouldn’t have you any other way." Grabbing a dish towel, she stood next to her at the sink. "You wash, I’ll dry." Mother and daughter soon fell into a comfortable rhythm.

"So, do y’all have anything special planned before you head back to Colorado?" Maggie asked as she handed a roasting pan to Jessie.

"Cam hasn’t been real forthcoming on details about this trip, so I have no idea what else he has planned."

"Well, Dad’s planning on barbecuing tomorrow evening, and I’m making your favorite carrot cake with cream cheese frosting for your birthday."

Jessie’s eyes lit up. "Homemade?"

"Is there any other way?"

Jessie giggled. "You’re the best, Mom." She dried a dinner plate before setting it in the cabinet. "I’ve missed you and Dad," she said quietly.

"I know, sweetie. We’ve missed you, too. But we know you’re busy. That’s just the way life gets. I learned that a long time ago, and there’s not much you can do about it." She handed Jessie another plate. "You know, if you don’t have anything planned tomorrow, you might think about taking Cam down by the creek…maybe pack a lunch. The weather’s supposed to be really nice." Seeing the puzzled look Jessie gave her, she said, "You used to spend hours down there—it was one of your favorite places when you were little. I always knew if you didn’t have your nose in a book, you’d be down by the creek digging in the dirt or playing in the meadow."

Jessie smiled at the memory. "Remember how excited I got when I found that arrowhead? You’d have thought I had dug up a treasure or something."

"Ah, but you did. You discovered one of your passions in life. Not everyone is lucky enough to do that, you know, to end up discovering how big the world really is."

Jessie wondered what her mom’s reaction would be if she could tell her exactly where she had been digging of late, the kinds of things she was discovering, and how much bigger in scope things truly are. She couldn’t tell her any of that, of course, but she knew her Mom sensed there was more to her job than what little she revealed. If she only knew how much.

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