Davide sat under a brilliant moon on the balcony of his third story bedroom and watched the night flight of the eagles. He followed their dark shapes soaring above the wild-flower field beyond the manicured lawns of the Childress Estate. They reached the lawn and circled several times, obviously aware of him. He waved and they dived toward his balcony. The larger Bald Eagle landed first, near his feet, and then the smaller one next to it. Davide grinned and waited for the shift.
Within milliseconds, the eagles morphed into Roth and Rainey Beowolf, his parents. The exhilarated look on his mother's face made Davide pat the chair next to him. "Take a seat, Mom, and tell me about the flight."
For the next half hour, Davide listened to his mother's enraptured descriptions. He never tired of her enthusiasm. Finally, she rose and reached a hand toward her husband. "If we don't leave soon, I'm going to bore Davide to tears."
"Never," Davide responded, his voice sounding bittersweet. His mother placed her hand gently on his cheek and his father patted his shoulder.
His mother changed the subject. "Zoe isn't coming to your birthday party this year, either."
"When did you find out?" Davide frowned.
"Fawn called earlier today and told me."
"What country is her tour group in?"
"She's in Spain--Barcelona; soon to leave for Madrid."
"I haven't seen her in two years. She used to attend every party."
"Did the two of you have a falling out?" Roth asked.
"If we did, then I don't know about it."
Roth shook his head. "I know you've said you've tried calling her."
"Yes, several times, and left voicemails. I've sent her emails, too. She only responded to a handful of emails saying how busy she is. It's not like her."
Roth patted his shoulder again. "Keep trying, son. We'll see you in the morning."
"Okay, Dad." Davide watched his parents lower their heads to speak the Prayer of Secrecy that would shift them back into eagles. They flapped powerful wings and lifted skyward. Davide watched their ascent and disappearance behind low clouds. He blew a breath and rubbed his temples, thinking about Zoe. The strange attitude the past two years of his best friend baffled and depressed him. They had grown up together. Zoe had even babysat him when she was a teenager. He remembered fondly the pillow fight wars they often found themselves in. God, he missed her.
Davide caught sight of his parents zipping in and out of the clouds, diving and chasing one another. To take his mind off Zoe, he remembered the first time his mother had shifted. He had been ten years old and for ten years she'd faithfully followed his dad's instructions. His father had taught that the key to shifting rested in focus. Shortly before her first shift, he remembered seeing his mother in tears. He'd walked past the cracked library door and heard the desperation in her voice. "Roth, I'm a failure. I'll never be able to soar with you."
"Souier, you cannot give up. If it's meant to happen, it will."
His mother had sobbed and Davide had peeked beyond the door to see his father gently kissing her tears away.
He also remembered his mother bursting into his room a few days after the crying incident and exclaiming, "I did it, Davide!" She'd rushed back out and he'd run behind her while she'd searched the house for his father. She'd found him in the surveillance room talking to Johnson, one of the many bodyguards employed by Hank Childress to protect his family. When she'd burst into the room looking like a wild woman, both Roth and Johnson had rushed toward her.
Davide grinned, remembering how she'd thrown her arms around his father's neck and started kissing him passionately. His father hadn't known the reason for her joyfulness, but he'd participated wholeheartedly in the kiss. When she'd pulled away, she'd repeated her words to Davide, "I did it!"