Dancers in the Dark: Away Into the Shadows

Chapter Twenty-Five is over and done, and the shadows had their say.  More or less.  You’ll have to continue reading to see what I mean.

Not only is the chapter done, but I’ve made some modifications to the rest of Part Eight, getting it set up for how I want to write the remaining part of Act Two.  As you can see . . .

It's always better with pictures.

It’s always better with pictures.

I’ve decided to move one scene up to the next chapter, and to actually delete a scene.  Why that one?  Because, in thinking about what happens there, it breaks the flow of the story, and I can actually show what happens there through conversation in two other following scenes.  It also sets up a nice transition, because Frisco Bound has Kerry arrived in San Francisco, and his last thoughts in the scene is right about now Annie should be waking up . . . and then break to the next chapter and Morning in Pamporovo, and guess who’s waking up?

Yeah, that’s how you do it.

But how did that chapter end?  Well, I had my kids dancing before a dying fire, and there was more on Kerry’s mind, it would seem, that a dance from a month before . . .

 

(All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

They grew close, one hand inside another, Kerry’s free hand around Annie’s waist with her other hand wrapped up and over Kerry’s right shoulder. They swayed back in forth in the shadows in front of the sofa, the dying fire to one side, and the nearly dark commons on the other. Neither spoke for almost a minute as they enjoyed the closeness and intimacy. Annie didn’t want to lose the moment—and she suspected that Kerry was still deep in thought.

She finally decided she had to know if Kerry was thinking about the same thing that had been on her mind for a few days. “What are you thinking about?”

This time he gave here a direct answer. “Yule holiday.”

He doesn’t say Christmas anymore. Annie pressed her head into his shoulder and smiled. “You’re thinking about being apart, aren’t you?”

Kerry nodded. “Yeah.”

Annie ran her hand up and down his shoulder. “I’ve been thinking about it as well.”

“Day after Boxing Day is our four month anniversary.”

“You’re keeping track?” She didn’t want to tell him that she knew this as well.

He laid his head against hers and let his voice drop to a whisper. “Every since the first month we were here—” His chuckle was so low as to be almost inaudible. “That was your birthday, after all.”

He realized; he knew all along. She wanted to put his mind at ease, even if her own wasn’t there. “It’s only going to be a couple of weeks.” Annie raised her head so she could gazed upon Kerry’s face and look into his eyes. “You’ll get to see your grandparent again, and I’ll be back home.” She rested her head against his shoulder once more. “I’m actually looking forward to seeing my parents. I told my father I’d have grown by the time I come home for Yule—”

“And you have. Maybe an inch.”

She thumped him lightly on the back of his shoulder. “Silly. That’s not what they meant.”

 

Yeah, you know what they mean, slick.  But she noticed that her birthday was the first month they were physically together–and I noticed it, too, last night while I was looking something up.  That’s one of the reasons I put dates on everything, and as I was getting the date they met in the bookstore in London, I realized, “Hey, that was a month before Annie’s birthday.”

27 August to 27 September.  I wasn't lying.

27 August to 27 September. I wasn’t lying.

But now that the missing and stuff is out in the open, what next?  Well . . .

 

“I know.” He glanced up the stairs past the mezzanine commons to the unseen entrance to the First Floor where there rooms were. “But we’ve gotta go to sleep soon.”

Annie slowly stepped away from Kerry. At first she followed his gaze up the stairs, then her eyes settled on the sofa. “What if we sat here for a while before heading up?”

Kerry stood next to Annie and let his eyes wander over the sofa. “We might get sleepy here.”

“It’s possible.”

“And . . .” He pointed to both ends of the sofa. “There are pillows and comforters here.”

Annie said nothing for a few moments, allowing the implications of the ideas they were considering settle. “It’s not like anyone ever slept here.”

Kerry picked up two pillows and laid them at one end of the sofa. “Otherwise why would they have this here?”

Annie picked up a comforter and spread it out. “Only makes sense.”

“It certainly does.” Kerry waited for Annie to pull the comforter back before laying down and pressing himself against the sofa back.

 

Hey, you kids:  what are you doing?  I’d say they’re getting ready to go to sleep . . .

 

Annie lay next to her soul mate on here right side, her back against him. She reached down and pulled the comforter over them, snuggling it over their shoulders and around their necks. “You know we could get detention—”

“I know.” He slid his left arm over her waist. “We’ll just have to get up about five or so and head up to our rooms.”

“That isn’t a problem.” She sighed as she watched the fire go out. “You’re not worried?”

Kerry rubbed his nose through Annie’s hair. “If we get detention . . .” He pulled back her hair and kissed her behind the ear. “It’s worth it.”

She took his left hand and held it tight. “A month ago you wouldn’t have said that.”

“A month ago I was only starting to know how I felt about you.” As the fire finally died and the embers began to smolder, Kerry brushed Annie’s cheek. “Good night, Annie. I love you.”

She touched the back of his hand. “Leka nosht, Kerry. I az te obicham.”

They relaxed and closed their eyes, Kerry’s arm once more around Annie’s waist, her hand still in his.

They drifted towards their dreams as the shadows embraced and held them tight . . .

 

And there they go, zero shits given if someone stumbles across them on a Sunday morning–which, traditionally, is a time to sleep in, so if they sneak up to their rooms on a floor they share with no one else, all should be right in the world.

I’m sure the shadows will tell them if someone comes.

Dancers in the Dark: the Dance Begins

Here we come, already, to the almost end of Chapter Twenty-Five.  There was a lot going on over the weekend, and I actually did get a lot done, and spent a lot of time on the road as well.  You wouldn’t know it by looking at me, but for most of Saturday I wasn’t even online, save for those periods early in the morning when I was doing my Saturday blog post.  And not sleeping.  Hated that part.

That part is over, however:  the last two nights I’ve gotten pretty good sleep, and even this morning I don’t feel as if I’m drugged.  Though I think the walk to work is gonna be chilly, since it’s only 37 F outside–

Hey, that’s pretty much the same temperature as the outside when I wrote this scene.  I know ’cause I looked it up.  Which is why the scene starts this way . . .

 

(All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

The door leading to the lower level open and two students stepped into the Cernunnos Tower ground floor commons. Anyone still awake in the tower would have recognized them right away for they were almost always the last ones to leave the Midnight Madness these days, but no one else was on the commons floor at thirty minutes after midnight.

Annie and Kerry slowly made their way towards the stairs at the other end of the commons floor, but before they could turn and ascend to their rooms, Kerry stopped and lightly tugged on Annie’s hand. “Do we have to go up right now?”

Annie didn’t need much coaxing. “We could sit in front of the fire.”

“What’s left of it.” The fireplace was enchanted so that it would begin burning out not long after midnight every night. Kerry led Annie over to the sofa; he sat first, then waited for Annie to sit next to him before he pulled her close for cuddling.

“It’s still warm, though.” Annie liked how Kerry was now taking initiative when it came to romantic gesture. Not that he hadn’t before, but since his declaration of love after the Day of the Dead, he’d begun doing things—like this suggestion they not go up to bed right way—without needing hints first. “And you’re keeping me warm.”

 

Kerry:  Keeping Annie Warm Since a Couple of Weeks Before.

I would have tried to find a picture with a boy in here as well, but most were of the "Too Sexy" varaity.  So, just imagine Annie in a few years after she's sent Kerry off to some magic story in another country, and she's killing time waiting for his butt to return . . .

I would have tried to find a picture with a boy in here as well, but most were of the “Too Sexy” variety. So, just imagine Annie in a few years after she’s sent Kerry off to some magic story in another country, and she’s killing time waiting for his butt to return . . .

Though the truth is he’s done that before–sometimes without even being asked.  But things are different with him now, particularly since he laid the “I love you” bit on Annie.  He must be feeling the vibe a little more.

Of course Annie thinks he has something on his mind, because he’s been quite tonight.  She then has to ask about what’s on his mind.  And . . .

 

She received an answer, but it wasn’t the one she expected. “The dance.”

“The Samhain dance?”

“Yeah.” Kerry touched his cheek against her hair. “It’s been almost a month now.” He chucked softly as he stared into the fire. “I miss dancing.”

Annie turned so she could see his far and figure out if he was joking: he wasn’t. “You do.”

“Yeah, I do.” He closed his eyes for a moment. “I’d never danced with a girl before; it was . . . special.”

“It was special for me as well.” She turned back and was staring into the fire along with Kerry. “I’d never danced with a boy before, nor did I have anyone dedicate a song to me and then dance with him—alone—in front of everyone there.” She felt a tingling in her head. “I still get a little light headed thinking about that moment.”

Kerry slipped around Annie and stood. He faced Annie, and with the fire to his back his entire front was cloaked in shadows. “Dance with me?” He held out his hand for Annie to take.

She looked up, and the tingling in her head intensified. “There’s no music.”

“We don’t need any.” His hand remained outstretched. “Dance with me, Miss Kirilova?”

Annie took his hand and allow him to assist her to her feet. “I would love to, Mr. Malibey.”

 

I’d keep an eye on those titles they just threw out, because . . . you might hear them now and again?  Isn’t that called foreshadowing?

They must be about to get into trouble.  Yeah, that’s it . . .

The Shadow Teaching

It’s way early right now, like five AM early, because I didn’t sleep at all.  Well, a little here and there, but not as well as I would have liked.  And I can’t make coffee this morning, so somewhere along all my driving today–yep, I’m out on the road once more–I gotta find some java.  And then a couple of rest stops along the way.

A question came up last night:  what’s you’re current word count.  Well, now that I have two of three scenes finished for Chapter Twenty-Five, it’s pretty easy to say, “I’m right here now.”  That’s means a couple of screen graphics are in order.  First, where am I with the Act?

Yep, right there.

Yep, right there.

And there where am I with the novel?

I'm at a point between foolishness and total insanity.

I’m at a point between foolishness and total insanity.

I’d mentioned, just off hand, that I’d hit somewhere around 280.000 words, and I was right there in the ballpark.  This makes me believe that Act Two will likely end up somewhere between 150,000 and 160,000 words, or just slightly longer than Act One.  And if Act Three is about the same . . .

Yeah.  Madness.

With that in mind, what’s the madness going on in my kid’s private lab?  Annie’s impressing Kerry with the thing she made for him–sort of . . .

 

All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

Kerry wasn’t quite sure what to make of the . . . ribbon floating before him. “It’s pretty—” He gave Annie a puzzled look. “What do you call this?

“It’s called a shadow ribbon—at least that’s what the spell is called.” She waved her hand to her left and the ribbon moved to Kerry’s right, then up and over his head, to finally float back down on his left and settle back where it had started. “You can make them as big or small as you’d like, and once I know how to work this spell better, I can control more than one at the same time.” She nodded at the animated shadow. “Go ahead, touch it.”

He ran his fingers over the wavering ribbon. I shouldn’t be able to touch this, but I can. “It feels like silk.”

“Light and flexible, yet strong—just like it.” She came closer and placed her hand next to Kerry’s. “I’ve actually see people use these to suspend heavy objects from walls and ceilings.” She removed her hand and performed a quick circular motions with her outstretched index fingers. A moment later the ribbon partially wrapped itself around Kerry’s right wrist. Annie slowly waved her right hand off to one side, and the ribbon lifted Kerry’s arm away from his body. “I can use it to take you were I want you to go.” She chuckled, her eyes shinning brightly, happy that she could show off her abilities to her soul mate.

Kerry chucked as well. “It’s not like you need magic to have me go somewhere with you.”

“That’s true for now . . .” Annie waved both hand and the shadow disappeared into nothingness.

 

For a young lady who’s just starting out at a school for advanced students who can bend reality, she’s able to crank out the crafting.  And someone is noticing . . .

 

“Most sorcery is fairly blunt force in its application: shadow magic requires a deft touch to craft correctly. Lovecraft said it was like the different between punching holes in walls to working with rice paper.”

“I saw how you were working with it.”

“Yes.” Annie nodded. “Light touches everywhere.”

“That was pretty obvious.” Kerry smiled broadly. “I don’t know why Lovecraft was so surprised, though: she should know by now you’re really good when it comes to this stuff.”

“Well . . .” She blushed thinking about how Professor Lovecraft had asked her a couple of times if she had actually done Shadow Ribbons before, since she was able to craft a ribbon on her third time, and it had taken her weeks to manipulate her first one.

“After all—” Kerry stepped next to her, taking Annie’s hand. “You are my Dark Witch.”

“Stop.” She brushed her fingers down his chest in mock anger.

“And now you’re the Dark Shadow Witch.” He laughed, and Annie joined him a moment later. “I don’t understand why this is sorcery, though. I would imagine Wednesday would teach this to us.”

“It’s because it can be used against people.” Annie took Kerry’s left wrist in both hands. “As light and silky as that shadow felt, I could have tightened it until . . .” She pretended to pop his hand off his arm.  “It would have been easy to amputate your hand.”

“Glad you didn’t.”

“I’d never do that to you . . .”

She didn’t say about doing it to anyone else. “I know.”

 

Yeah, she never said anything about lopping off someone else’s hand.  You know, like nosy wingmates who are asking personal questions of your soul mate . . .

But that’s for the future.  Annie has something else in mind at this very moment–

 

Annie studied Kerry closely for almost twenty seconds. He said nothing, but she expected that: he’d grown used to watching her observe him. She though about how he’d looked when she’s created the ribbon, and how acted when she maneuvered it around his body and wrapped it around his wrist. It won’t hurt to ask . . . “Would you like to learn how to do this spell?”

Kerry’s eyes beamed. “You’d ask Lovecraft if she’d teach me?”

“No.” Annie’s eyes beamed back. “I’d teach you.”

“Wait . . .” He brows furrowed. “I thought you have a sorceress’ bargain with her so you could access the library in the Witch House?”

“I do.” Creating a bargain had been a requirement before allowing Annie into The Black Vault. “The bargain says that anything I learn in The Vault I can’t pass on to others—” She tapped Kerry on the chest. “I think that was designed to keep me from showing you everything I learned.”

He’d figure that as well after she explained the deal she’d worked out with Professor Lovecraft after she’d shocked Kerry into the hospital for the night. “What’s different now?”

“I didn’t learn this spell in The Vault.” Annie turned her eyes up towards the ceiling for a few seconds. “This isn’t the first spell I’ve learned, either—And none of them I’ve learned in The Value.” A slight, playful grin played across her face. “Lovecraft won’t let me practice any spells in The Value. She says it’s too dangerous.”

 

Now we reach the part of the program where Annie, after almost three months in the joint, decides it’s time to step up the game and start passing along what she knows to her significant other.  Though it would seem as if the wonderful Mistress of All Things Dark left a big opening for Little Miss Dark Witch to do just that.  And she’s realizing it, but . . .

 

It could be she wants to see if I’m going to take what I’ve learned and pass it along to him. She gazed deeply into his eyes. But this is something he should know—something I want him to know . . .

She made up her mind in an instant. “I want to teach this to you.”

Kerry chuckled and turned his gaze towards Annie’s feet. “I don’t know; I think—”

“Kerry.” He snapped his heard up and met Annie’s burning gaze. “You’re a good sorceress. Lovecraft said so, and I say so.” She ran her right hand down his arm. “It’s time you became my Dark Witch.”

 

No shits are given–she wants her own Dark Witch.

And we all know by now:  what Annie wants, Annie gets.

Above in the Transept: the Conversation

It’s now getting down to the End of the Act.  The last scene of the last chapter of Part Seven is more than half done, and what remains are Part Eight, four chapters, and maybe fourteen scenes.  These will get knocked off during NaNo, and in the very last moments of the very last scene of Act Two, you’ll be introduced to a character who is going to change the lives of a couple of kids a lot more than any of the instructors have. over the last few months.

Just a hop, skip, and a jump over from November to the End of December, and right into the end of January.

Just a hop, skip, and a jump over from November to the End of December, and right into the end of January.

There’s a conversation in the East Transept, one between Annie and Professor Arrakis, who seems to be popping up in these last few scenes.  And what is this transept you speak of, Cassie?  If you look at any old cathedral, they’re the “wings” that stick out of a building to make it look like a cross.  The West Transept of the Great Hall is where the Security Center is located:  the East Transept, as indicated in the scene, is the location of some of the offices used by the instructors, and it’s also where you’ll find the Headmistress’ Office.  The first floor on this side is unusual in that there’s a cutout in the middle of the floor, and one can look down upon the students coming and going out of the East Entrance–perfect for an instructor laying in wait for someone coming from classes there, or where they can spy on them walking through the Rotunda.

One East Transept, coming up.  Annie's in there somewhere . . .

One East Transept, coming up. Annie’s in there somewhere . . .

What happens in this conversation?  Just as mentioned the professor sees them walking in from the East–they wandered though the Pentagram Garden, around the south end of the Great Hall, and back up north towards Mórrígan Tower, and while Kerry is resting, Annie is talking . . .

 

All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

Professor Arrakis had moved away from the Rotunda railing and was standing along the north side of the transept that led to the offices for some of the instructors that needed an office that was more accessible to students. Deanna stood close to the wall facing Annie as she approached. “Thank you for coming.”

“You’re welcome, Professor.” Annie wasn’t sure why she was being summoned, but she figured it was best to let the professor start the conversation.

Deanna did just that. “How are you feeling?”

“I’m fine.”

“And Kerry?”

“He’s . . .” Annie didn’t want to lie. “Not completely healed. He started limping after our walk around the garden.”

“But is he feeling well?”

“I think so.” Annie looked over her shoulder towards The Rotunda, but from where she stood it was impossible to see him. “He seems in a good mood.”

“I think we’re all glad he wasn’t too affected by what happened yesterday.” Deanna didn’t dwell on those matters. “So . . . has anything out of the ordinary happened with you both today?”

She knows something happened, but she doesn’t know what. Annie almost chuckled, but held back the urge at the last moment. “Yes, something did.”

Deanna raised one of her dark, expressive eyebrows. “Are you going to tell me, or will you keep me in suspense?”

“Kerry told me he loved me.”

 

So seers don’t see everything, though we do know that Deanna felt something would happen between them the night before, and that it would extend into today.  But there’s something else that Deanna missed which is still fresh in Annie’s mind.

 

Since Professor Arrakis was asking questions, Annie had to believe that she wasn’t aware of what happened in the bay last night. “Professor, Kerry remembered one of our dreams last night. The memories are still there.”

“That’s good then, yes?” She turned her head slightly to one side as if listening closely to Annie’s words. “That’s something of a breakthrough as well.”

“Yes, but . . .” Annie looked away as she clenched her fists. “He doesn’t remember any of it now. I thought he might, but it didn’t happen.” Annie moved a little closer to Deanna, shaking her closed hands before her. “The memories are there—why doesn’t he remember them?”

 

As one might say, “Again with the questions about the dreams.”  Annie won’t let it go, and now that she knows he remembers something, she damn sure wants to get to the reasons of why.

Unfortunately for Deanna, she asks Annie to wait and be calm and see what happens.  Annie doesn’t want that, and for the first time in the story we see an Annie that has only been hinted at, mostly be her:  we get the Annie Who Gets What She Wants.

 

Annie’s head snapped up as he gaze bored into the Seer. She wasn’t about to let someone else tell her what was and wasn’t important. “I want my Kerry back. I want my Ginger Hair Boy, the one who I shared dreams with for years, the boy I grew to love, the boy who loves me. I want him, Deanna. I want him to—”

Veruca Salt’s got nothing on this girl.  Boyfriend’s got memory’s locked up inside his head and they won’t come out?  Screw it:  “I want it now!”  This is the Annie here parents have seen, but who has never appeared at the school before now–

Unfortunately for Annie, my Iraqi Seers isn’t her parents . . .

 

You selfish girl.”

Annie immediately stopped speaking and stared dumbfounded at the Divination instructor. She saw a Deanna that was contrary to the woman she’s known these last two months. She towered over Annie; her face was a mask of disapproval, her dark eyes hard and unwavering—

And Annie had driven her to this moment.

Deanna walked around the now stupefied student, then turned and cocked a finger at her. “Come with me.” Annie followed her to the railing overlooking the Rotunda. Deanna turned and motioned her to a point in front of her. “You stand there. I’m going to talk, and you’re going to listen.” Deanna’s voice unfroze and went back to what Annie has always seen before: a calm, pleasant, cheerful woman. But the tone of her voice remained the same, indicating her appearance was for show. “You can smile and nod your head, make it look as if we’re having a nice conversation—but at the same time I want you to keep an eye on that boy sitting in the Rotunda: the one waiting for you . . .”

 

And that’s all you get for today.  I wrote almost twelve hundred and sixty words last night, and I’ll finish it up tonight and maybe even start on the next scene of the next chapter–something to do with shadows.

Can’t wait to get to that.

Admissions in the Garden

This scene in the novel . . . this is one I’ve had in my mind for a long time.  Though, originally, it appeared way differently:  locations, reasons, appearances, things said–they’ve all be altered, because that’s what you do with a story as you go along.  Particularly if you’re had months to think about a scene before you get around to writing said part.

I also approached this scene with a little trepidation because–you’ll see.  You’ll see in a bit.

Annie and Kerry are outside now; Annie for the first time in over twenty-four hours, as she tells Kerry.  It’s a cool and crisp morning–

Because I always check my historical weather data.  I'm funny that way.

Because I always check my historical weather data. I’m funny that way.

With this in mind, with Kerry in his hoodie and Annie in her thick sweater from home, designed for that mountain climate she lives in, they decide to stay outside . . .

 

All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

“No. I want to enjoy being outside.” She pointed down the path they were walking. “We could sit and get out of the wind.”

“Sit at our bench?”

Now it was Annie’s turn to chuckle. “You think of it as our bench, too?”

“Why not?” Kerry picked up the pace just a little, but not so much that Annie would think he was over-exerting himself. “It is sort of out bench now.”

“Not sort of—” Annie pulled Kerry along. “It is.”

Kerry nodded. It was sort of funny to think of it that way, but when he gave the matter any consideration, he couldn’t remember anyone else ever sitting there. It’s just like our sofa in the Midnight Madness; no one else ever seems to sit there . . .

 

Of course, Kerry sits there in silence, because a lot of times when they’ve come to this particular bench he’s thinking about something.  When Annie asks him, he remembers something she told him last night about Protectors being on the grounds.  He takes in the info and then goes back to being quiet, because it’s Kerry:  he’s like that.  We know how Annie is, however–

 

“Um, hum.” He stared straight ahead while keeping a firm grip on Annie’s hand.

“Kerry . . .” Annie wanted to move forward carefully, least she say something that might being on déjà vu. “You seemed surprised to see me this morning.”

He nodded. “I was a little.” He half turned his head in her direction. “I wasn’t sure if I was hallucinating.”

Does he remember our dream? “What do you remember?”

“I remember waking up and I was crying.” Kerry closed his eyes for a few seconds; Annie though he might start crying again, but he didn’t. “I remember talking to you, and then . . .” He screwed up his face as if he was remembering something unpleasant. “Then drifting off to sleep.” He squeezed Annie’s hand. “With you next to me.”

“What about the things in . . . the middle?” Please let him remember. Please.

Kerry shook his head. “I don’t remember anything. It’s all so fuzzy, just flashes I can’t . . .” He shrugged. “It’s all disjointed; I can’t remember it clearly.”

 

Annie and her, “If I could only get him to remember our dreams,” thoughts and wishes.  There’s more on her mind, however, because she remembers a number of things that were said the night before.

 

Annie was a little crestfallen that Kerry couldn’t now remember the events of their shared dream. It wasn’t everything, however. “Do you remember what you wanted to talk about?”

Kerry returned to looking straight ahead and away from Annie. “Yeah.”

She didn’t like the quiet, down tone he was using. “Kerry—”

He slowly turned back around to face her. “You deserve better.”

Annie almost felt her heart skip a beat. “What are you saying?”

He cleared his throat. “You’re a kind, loving girl, and I’m not like that.”

“Yes, you are.” She moved slightly closer, holding his hand tight, the same as she’d done last night. “You heard what Coraline said about the little things we do—”

“I know; I do those.” He shrugged again as if it didn’t matter. “But you’re always telling me you love me, and I just . . .” He lowered his head and started at his feet. “I never say anything.”

What is he trying to say? “Kerry, that’s not—”

“It is true, Annie.” He pulled his hand out of hers and laid it in his lap alongside his right. “You’ve expressed yourself perfectly—and I act like like I’m still trying to figure this out.”

Don’t say this—don’t. Annie felt as if the bottom was dropping out of her world. Only last night Kerry whispered he loved her before falling off to sleep, and now it seemed like he was berating himself up for not being affectionate and telling her she deserved better. “Everything takes time, my love.” She could almost see Professor Arrakis saying the same thing. “You shouldn’t—”

“No.” Kerry slowly rose to his feet. “You need more than just me taking my time to get to where you are.” He took three slow, measured steps towards the other side of the covered walkway leading to their tower. He didn’t see Annie’s face, now a mask of confusion and fear that Kerry was going to tell her something upsetting—

 

There’s that saying about, “If you don’t like the answers, maybe you shouldn’t have asked the questions,” and right now Annie is wishing she hadn’t asked that question.  And that seems to be the road Kerry is headed down–and it’s making Annie worried.

 

He turned towards her. His face radiated fear, which was doing little to put Annie’s emotions at ease. He took a step towards her. “This is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to say.” He closed the distance between them and stood silently, looking down at her. He took his time reaching down so he could take her hands in his—

Annie was shivering, but not from the cold, not this time. Her heart and mind were racing, one hoping against the worst, the other expecting the worst. He’s going to tell me he doesn’t want me. She looked up into his eyes, fighting to keep her face impassive. He’s going to say he hasn’t any real feelings for me, that he doesn’t know why we are together

 

Well, you did ask for it, Annie.  You may as well hear what he has to say.  Which is . . .

 

“Anelie Victoreva Kirilova, I love you.”

She blinked three time fast. Her face unfroze, and for the second time in less than twelve hours she expressed shock over something Kerry said. Only this time it wasn’t the shock that came with him saying something that she knew was untrue: it was the shock that came from hearing something completely unexpected. “Kerry—”

“You’re the most important thing in my life, Annie. I don’t want you there: I need you there. I need you to be with me.” A tear slipped from his left eye. “I want to feel you with me. I want to—” He choked up for a few seconds. “I want to feel your love.”

 

And there it is:  he finally expressed the words she’s wanted to hear for a couple of month now.

 

Annie wanted to stand up and throw her arms around her Ginger Hair Boy, but she knew if she did she might pass out before she could raise her arms. “When did you realize?”

“The night I was in the hospital after my accident. I knew you were mad at me, but then you came back and told me about your family, and you said—” A few more tears escaped. “When you told me that I needed someone to tell me that every day, that you’d tell me that every day of my life—but most of all, that I was worthy of love . . .” He sniffed back her onrushing emotions. “After you left I knew I hadn’t shown you the same thing, and I knew I was wrong to not show you my affections. I woke up in the middle of the night, and after about five minutes of thinking about it, I knew I was in love.” He squeezed her hands. “With you.”

“Why didn’t you say something?” Annie shook her head slowly, trying to erase the disbelief from her face. “Why?”

“Because I was scared.” Kerry looked down and a way for a moment, trying to keep from crying while gathering his thoughts. “I used to tell my parents I loved them all the time—until I was like six or so. They almost never responded; they never showed any open affection. After a few years of that I just gave up: I didn’t say or do anything.

“And my grandparents . . . As much as I love them, as soon as we moved to Cardiff, they stopped writing to me. I didn’t hear from them at all. Not even email.” He closed his eyes but never let Annie’s hands go.

“I was going to tell you at the dance. That’s why I did the song dedication. I was going to dance, and then we were going to go somewhere—”

“Our bench?” Annie finally found the strength to chuckle.

Kerry joined her. “Yeah, something like that . . . And I was going to get you here and tell you.”

“Oh, Kerry . . .” Annie felt a little of what she was feeling just a few night ago course through her. “I would have melted. Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Because . . .” This time he did look away as the tears began to flow.

Annie slowly made her way to her feet. She stood face-to-face with Kerry, her hands still within his. “Because you were frightened. Because you were afraid.”

He nodded. “I started over-analyzing everything. I started wondering if it was just the event that would have made you happy, or if I wanted to say I loved you because of how the dance made me feel. And then I got scared, and starting thinking—”

“You thought once you gave your love to me I would abandon you.” She pulled her right hand from his and brought it to his cheek. “Like your parents did. Like your grandparents did. Like . . .” She stopped, because she couldn’t repeat what she’d heard last night, least she ruin the moment. “Like you thought I might.”

He wiped his face on his newly freed sleeve. “Yeah.”

 

Fear is a powerful motivator.  I know, because I was there all the time as a child.  My life seemed driven by fear, so it’s not unusual that Kerry has fallen into that same trap, becoming an alienated young lad who just wants affection.  And what is more scary than a first love?  And wondering if she’ll remain with you after you express your love to her?  It’s different when you’re an adult, because you come to accept that not all relationship last.  But when it’s your first time, and you experience that breakup–it’s a killer.

And Kerry would rather hide the rest of his life than feel that pain of abandonment.

Fortunately, he has Annie . . .

 

Annie re-took Kerry’s free hand and held them both close to her. “Kerrigan Rodney Malibey, I love you. You are the most important thing in my life. I don’t want you in my life: I need you in my life.” She pulled herself up against his torso. “I want to feel you with me, and I want to feel your love.” She glided her lips across his right cheek. “And I want to hear you tell me, every day of my life, that you love me.”

Kerry half-closed his eyes and relaxed his breathing. “I will.”

“Promise?”

“Promise.”

“Then—” Annie kissed him lightly on the lips. “You’ll never be afraid again. I will always be here. I will never abandon you.”

 

Kerry goes through four difficult night, and the night after the attack, the one where he shared a dream he can’t remember with Annie, was his third.  And the aftermath of that night led to him opening himself up to Annie in a way that was absolutely necessary.

It only took about 275,000 words, but Kerry finally spoke the Big Three Words.  Congratulations, kid.

It only took about 275,000 words, but Kerry finally spoke the Big Three Words. Congratulations, kid.

Now maybe I can stop torturing these kids for a while–

Yeah, right.

Releases of Future Past

This morning I’d like to thank everyone who checked out yesterday’s post.  The response was overwhelmingly positive, which lightens my heart considerably.  The post also led to several people coming out to me yesterday about various LBGT issues, which is more even more heartening, because it means people want to know, they want to understand and learn.  Thank you all.

I should point out that yesterday, 10/11/2014, was Coming Out Day, which is when, if you’re still hiding your real self, you’re suppose to make that first tentative step to announce yourself to the world.  10/11/2012 was the day Cassidy came out, first to a few of my friends, and then on profiles around the Internet.  This blog was the first to change, and my Facebook account was the second.  That was a huge, scary step for me, but I’m still here, so it much have been the right action to take.  Kind of interesting, even for me, to see where I’m at two years later.

Now, lets get back to the boring business of writing . . .

"Great.  What insane crap is she gonna talk about now?"

“Great. What insane crap is she gonna talk about now?”

Only the best, I assure you.

Kerry’s getting checked out of the hospital.  He’s already been giving the normal “Don’t do this or that” speech, but there’s something else he needs to hear as well . . .

 

All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

“Another thing—” Coraline rubbed her hands together before speaking. “You are not to get anywhere near a broom for the next few days. Just like last time, you’re grounded due to the concussion, only this time I’m not going to give you a clearance check-up until Sunday morning.” She laid her hands in her lap. “Even if I do clear you I might tell Vicky to keep you on light flight duty for that week.”

“Was it really that bad?” Kerry knew concussions were bad, but he felt like he’d bounced back from the last one quickly, and this one didn’t feel any different.

“About as bad as it could get without causing a traumatic brain injury.” Coraline held her thumb and forefinger about a centimeter apart. “You were this close to a TBI: the only thing that saved you was you tumbled after you crashed. Otherwise you’d probably still be out while I let my magical nanoids fix the damage.

 

Remember, kids:  it’s better to slide along the ground for a few hundred feet instead of coming to a quick stop, especially if you’re moving along at speed.  Just keep tumbling, kids, and I don’t mean that stuff you do on the Internet.

Also–

 

“I’m not going to give you any pain killers because if you really need to take something for the pain of just being up and around, I want you back here resting.” Coraline set her hands on either side of her and stretched. “The only other thing I have is that I want you back here at sixteen-thirty for a checkup, and . . .” She flicked her gaze from Kerry to Annie and back. “I don’t want you trying to make your way up to your room in the tower, so I’m going to have you sleep here tonight.”

Annie covered her mouth with the back of her hand. “Ah, hum.”

“And, yes—someone else will sleep here as well.” Coraline dropped the tone of her voice into a lower register. “And I don’t want to come in tomorrow and find the same scene I found this morning.”

“We’ll be good.” Annie turned to Kerry and hugged him tight. “Promise.”

 

You know you can trust Annie, Coraline.  You won’t catch her sleeping with Kerry again–catch being the operative word here.

With that out of the way Coraline puts up one more question–and what she gets back was probably something she wasn’t expecting . . .

 

“I’ll hold you to that, Annie. Since classes are canceled for the remainder of the week, if you wanna stay up late, you call.” Coraline turned her attention to Kerry. “That’s all I have to say. Any questions?”

There was only one on Kerry’s mind: it had been there a while and had nothing to do with his condition. “How many people . . . died? No one will tell me.”

Coraline didn’t hesitate giving him that information, because she felt he had a right to know. “Ten: nine students and an instructor. Six of the students were fliers; the other three were in the ground assault teams.”

“Who was the instructor?”

“Shuthelah Kady. He taught Engineering and Magic, so you didn’t have a chance to get to know him.” Coraline turned away for a moment. “Nice guy.”

“Sorry to hear that.”

“He jumped in a rescued a group that was ambushed by nine Abominations: they killed two of the three students on the group. Shuthelah took out most of them before he died.” There wasn’t a trace of humor in Coraline’s chuckle.  “He went down fighting; that’s how he was.”

“Still—” Kerry stared at the floor. “That’s a lot.”

“We lost forty-four students the night of The Scouring. Isis, Wednesday, Ramona, Vicky—they did a great job making sure that didn’t happen again.” She nodded towards Kerry. “And your quick thinking keep four more people off the list.”

It took Kerry a moment to realize that “the list” Coraline mentioned were those killed—and that one of the additional four was him. “Um, yeah.”

 

Always nice to know that you may be congratulated for not dying–and realizing that through not dying, you likely kept three move people alive as well.  And of that death count from the Scouring, was was left off were the six to eight instructors and staff who died in the process–like the Librarian, Chief Medical Officer, and Headmaster.  The last one was torn apart by Jessica Kishna, and it wasn’t like he didn’t have it coming.  Add those people into the mix, and you’re over fifty dead that night.  And since Isis and Wednesday played a big part in making sure more people didn’t die that night, they knew what to do to make certain that didn’t happen again.

But there’s something else afoot here–

 

Coraline followed them out of the bay and towards her office, watching them stroll hand-in-hand through the waiting room and out the open doors. Once they were out of sight she turned towards her office, where the blinds, which were up when she’d finished discussing Kerry’s condition with Annie, were now drawn. This can only mean one thing . . .

She entered her office and closed the door. She didn’t address her guest until she was seated behind her desk. “I’m guessing you drew the blinds so certain students wouldn’t see you.”

 

Could this be that “She” that Coraline mentioned the scene before?  Yep.  And who is this person?  Let’s see.  Or should I say, “Seer”?

 

“I thought it best they didn’t see me.” Deanna Arrakis twisted the bracelet on her left wrist to the left and right. “After all, you’re the one with the questions—yes?”

Coraline shook her head. “So what exactly did you see yesterday?” She sat back as she pulled her coat around her. “I mean, you told me to let Annie spend the night hours before you told me I’d find them sharing the same bed.”

“I saw them sleeping together not long after Isis gave the all clear.” Deanna checked the door as if she expected someone to walk through at any moment. “Though I didn’t see quite what you saw . . .”

“Meaning?”

“You weren’t alone. That’s why I told you to come here early today.”

Coraline chuckled. “Yeah, I told them about what might have happened if the Headmistress had found them. But that isn’t why you told me to let her spend the night—” She set her right index finger against the corner of her mouth. “Unless you wanted them to be found like that.”

Deanna slowly tossed her head from side to side as she gazed up at the ceiling before explaining further. “I felt something else just before I contacted you. It wasn’t a true vision, but more an . . . premonition.”

Coraline leaned forward and rested her elbow against her desk. “About?”

“That something important was about to transpire between them.”

“And that happened last night?”

Deanna shook her head. “In a way.” She glanced towards the door once more. “I believe the rest is coming soon . . .”

 

That’s the problem with these seers:  you never know what’s going on with them, even after they tell you what’s going on.  As Coraline hints, could Deanna have manipulated things so the event Coraline discovered was made to happen instead of maybe happening?  Hummm.

I guess you’d have to be able to see the future to know that one.

 

 

Pre-Release

If I’m gonna do NaNo I have to get my writing Mojo down and stop waiting until after nine PM to get to wording.  That’s been a problem of late, brought on by other problems I’ve went through this week which have really put a strain on the story.

But that’s beside the point, because when haven’t I been dealing with one problem or another?

Anyway, the boy is about to get kicked, and his girlfriend is following the Head Nurse around.  It’s that time when you are ready to leave the hospital and you gotta hear how you gotta take it easy.

 

All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

Coraline exited her office with Annie right behind her and headed straight for Bay #1. The curtain was three-quarters drawn: Coraline waved her right hand and it retracted all the way, revealing Kerry in his regular clothes sitting calmly on the edge of Bed #2. He looked up as they walked into the space. “Hey.”

“Hey, back.” Coraline sat on Bed #1 while Annie took a seat to Kerry’s left. She waved the curtain to close, sealing off the bay so they’d have privacy. “I’m releasing you, if you haven’t already guessed. Before I turn you loose on the student population I need to set down some rules for you to follow.” She tilted her head to one said and grinned. “It’s all for your own good: you do get that, right?”

Kerry nodded slowly. “Yeah, I do.”

 

Of course it’s for your own good, Kerry.  Because we know kids:  they just wanna run around and have fun.  Except, in this case, you may pass out.  No fun there.

 

“Good.” She crossed her legs and tapped her foot up and down as she spoke. “First off: you are mended, but you are not healed. All your breaks and your knee are repaired; your dislocations are fine; your concussion has subsided. In terms of mending, you’re back to where you were this time yesterday.

“That doesn’t mean you’re healed. You experienced a lot of trauma in that accident; if you were in a Normal hospital, you wouldn’t be out of bed for another month, and might not be able to leave the hospital for a couple of months after that. But even with magic and technology on your side, it takes a few days to get you back to where you were . . .

“You’re not back to a hundred percent: seventy-five percent is more like it. You’ll be near one hundred by Saturday, but for now you’re going to be anything like you were when you woke up yesterday morning.” Coraline nodded towards the curtain. “Bianca took you down to the bathroom, so you know how different you feel.”

 

That was something I thought about when I put the story together.  I’ve only broken one thing–my ankle–but I’ve had two surgeries, and I know about that crazy recovery time where you have to recover from having people cut into your body.  Kerry didn’t have that, but given that, at one point, he wouldn’t have been able to use any of his limbs, he was hurt bad.  Not to mention that a broken leg on top of a knee injury would have made it difficult, if not impossible, for him to move around for some time.  Yay, magic and technology!

 

Coraline didn’t wait for an acknowledgment—she saw he understood. “What this means is that for the next few days you take it easy. You can walk, but don’t over do it. Don’t think you’re going to head off to The Witch House and get there if you just walk slow; that’s overdoing it. You might make it to Lake Lovecraft, but you better rest up for an hour before trying to walk back.

“Don’t run, don’t hop, don’t skip, don’t jump. Take your time going up and down stairs, and use the handrail when you do. If you feel tired or dizzy, sit down and get your head down. If there isn’t a chair around, sit on the floor and do the same, no matter where you are. If you still feel tired or dizzy after a couple of minutes, you lay down and close your eyes.

“If you don’t feel better after five minutes of that, you tell Annie.” She chuckled as she nodded in her direction. “She’s graciously agreed to stay by your side today—”

“Like I would be anywhere else.” Annie wrapped her arm through Kerry’s.

“Like you would.” Coraline’s eyes twinkled before continuing. “She’s got a panic button—”

Kerry looked at Annie, then back to Coraline. “What’s that?”

“An enchanted device that teleports you to a predetermined location. All you have to do is activate the enchantment, and since you both can do that, I know she’ll get you here.” She uncrossed her legs and hooked them at the ankles. “In this case ‘here’ is a spot back by the lift. Annie knows how to position you both before jaunting: after you arrive she can get someone and we can get you into a bed.

“I know what to do.” Annie hugged Kerry’s arm. “Don’t worry.”

He shook his head. “I don’t.”

 

That’s right:  your sweetie will be right there by your side to get you to the hospital if the need should arise–

"Come along, Ginger Boy.  It looks like it's time to tuck you into a hospital bed so I can play Nurse Annie."

“Come along, Ginger Boy. It looks you need to get tucked into a hospital bed so I can play Nurse Annie.”

Maybe not this time, Sweetie.

This is also the first time I’ve ever mentioned a Panic Button.  You won’t hear much about them in this story, but in future stories they play an important role, particularly for Kerry.  For now, however, they’re just another piece of fluff that shows up–and is only showing up because the advanced kids know how to use the advanced spells that the panic button require.  Otherwise Coraline would probably do something like keep Kerry close to The Pentagram.

Which, I believe, will likely happen anyway . . .