â€œNick? Honey? Get up. You’re going to be late for school.â€
Groaning, Nick opened his eyes to see the navy blue curtains his mom had bought him last year when they moved into their condo on Bourbon Street.
It had just been a nightmare, after all.
That was his thought until he realized that the window wasn’t the same. Instead of being a large single window, it was two windows with a divider between them.
His heart hammering, he slowly swept his gaze around a room he didn’t recognize.
â€œNick?â€ His mom knocked lightly before she pushed open the door to smile at him. â€œSo you are up, sleepy-head. Hurry now, or else you’ll get another tardy.â€
Nick gaped at the sight of her in an expensive dark blue business suit with her blond hair cut short to frame her beautiful face. What the . . . â€œMom?â€
Scowling, she moved to stand by the bed and placed her hand to his forehead. â€œAre you all right? You look pale.â€
Stunned, he couldn’t speak as he stared at a stranger in his mother’s body.
â€œCherise? It’s London calling. They need to speak to you. Said it can’t wait.â€
His eyes widened at the sound of that familiar deep, thick Tennessee Southern drawl. Bubba? What the heck was Bubba doing in his house at seven thirty in the morning?
And why in the world would someone in London call his mom? Maybe London is a name?
No. Not possible. This was bad bad. His mom didn’t know anyone named London . . . .
â€œI’ll be right there, Michael.â€ She squeezed Nick’s cheek. â€œYou don’t have a fever. Did you stay up too late?â€
Honestly? He feared some kind of brain damage. How hard had that demon slammed him on the ground last night while they fought to get his mom back?
His door opened again to show â€˜Bubba’ in a black Armani suit. Huge as ever, Bubba had abandoned his beard for smooth cheeks and wore a short, stylish cut. He came in and handed a cordless phone to his mom. Removing her expensive earring, she cupped her hand over the mouthpiece and whispered to Bubba. â€œI think our Boo is sick. See what you think.â€ She stepped out of the room to deal with her call.
Bubba knelt his gigantic form by the bed and brushed the hair back from Nick’s forehead. â€œYou all right, buddy?â€
Nick’s gaze fell to the huge football championship ring on Bubba’s hand. The diamonds on the front formed a pattern reminiscent of a fleur-de-lis. They were framed by the words Forty on one side and Niners on the other. The name Burdette was on the â€œfortyâ€ side and Super Bowl XXIV 55-10 on the â€œNinersâ€ side. Gasping, he fingered the ring as he remembered Bubba’s mama telling him how Bubba could have gone pro after college, but had decided to stay home with his wife and son. â€œThis looks so real.â€
Bubba snorted. â€œIt is real, you know that.â€ He duplicated Nick’s scowl. â€œWhat’s going on with you, Squirt? You have a test you’re trying to avoid?â€
â€œNo. I . . . uh . . . yeah, no, I’m fine. Not a morning person.â€
Laughing, Bubba stood up and pulled the covers off. â€œCome on. Mom made pancakes for breakfast and they’re getting cold.â€ He left the room.
Still disoriented and confused, Nick rolled out of bed. This was so screwed up. Raking his hand through his hair, he gaped at the photo on his desk of a sweaty Bubba in a 49ers uniform holding him as a toddler, dressed in a matching 49ers jersey with Burdette on the back. At least Nick thought it was him. The face and hair belonged to the stranger he kept seeing in the mirror. It was a picture from a newspaper where the 49ers had won the Super Bowl, January 28, 1990.
What the heck?
In 1990, Nick would have been six. The â€œNickâ€ in the photo couldn’t be more than three or four.
â€œI’m in another coma.â€ At least that made sense to his mind.
Yeah, he could definitely go with that. Instead of being sent to the Nether Realm, he was trapped here, wherever here was. Caleb or Kody would wake him up at any moment and everything would be back to normal. He just had to make sure he didn’t get sucked into a hell realm and eaten by a demon or zombie until they figured this out and performed another rescue mission.
C’mon guys, hurry. I don’t know how much longer I can handle this freakfest.