Within a few moments, the kids were in their pajamas and again clinging to his wrists. “Let’s go down to the den,” Jeanne said. “I don’t want to be this high up.”
“The lightning can’t get you inside the house,” Phillip said. Jeanne’s eyes indicated that she was in no mood to explain why it most definitely could and would do so. “All right. Down we–”
The power went out at that moment, plunging the common room into darkness. A flash of lightning showed the children, in strobe-light freeze-frames, inhaling deeply enough that their combined screams nearly drowned out the thunderclap. Phillip pulled the children closer, and their shouts reverberated into his thighs. “Down we go,” he said, gently. “Stay close and move slowly so we don’t fall.”
It took them a few moments, and a few more lightning strikes, to make it down to the front den. Jeanne was shivering, and Gene was on the border between catatonia and a full-blown panic attack. Phillip sat both of the children on one of the overstuffed easy chairs, and covered them with a heavy quilted blanket. “I just need to check the front door,” he said. “I’ll be right back. Keep your eyes on me.”
“Okay,” Jeanne whispered. Her head traced him as he stepped through the archway to the foyer. The front door was quickly shut and bolted; he stepped briskly back into the den. The children had slid down the front of the easy chair and were on the floor, huddling together underneath the blanket. “Just to be safe,” Jeanne said, explaining their descent.

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