I Spy From the Park Side

Here I am, back to the writing, and a little upset because I broke a nail last night while writing.  I guess that’s one of the hazards I’m going to have to deal with now, snapping off nails every now and then because I’m pounding away on the keyboard.  Or I’m going to have to toughen them up a lot more than they already are.

I’ve waited all this time to grow them out and . . . sigh.  It’ll grow back.

Operation Spying On Maybe Aware Girl has begun, and believe it or not, it’s boring.  No, really:  they’re standing in a park across the street from the house where Tanith lives, and it’s cold, it’s windy–just generally not a pleasant time.  I know the weather because I looked it up, and I know the place because I’ve even got a picture of where Helena is standing when all this goes down–

You'd be able to see her if she wasn't invisible.

You’d be able to see her standing by that tree if she wasn’t invisible.

I have something similar set up for the next scene, which is Annie and Kerry, who are elsewhere at this time.  Where?  You’ll find out.

In fact, let’s get to that right now . . .

 

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

Helena turned up the color of here long, leather jacket against the strong gusts coming out of the north. During the night the mild weather that greeted them when they arrived in Kansas City departed and turned chilly and windy. She didn’t mind the sudden change, though: she grew up on the north island of New Zealand, and the weather went from one extreme to another all the time. And this is a normal spring day for Erywin

She turned sideways so she didn’t take the gust straight in the face. It doesn’t help that we’re more or less standing out in the open with only a since tree to break the wind. And speaking of Erywin . . .

Her partner walked up the sidewalk from the corner and turned into the park, joining her under the lone tree situated in a perfect location that allowed them to observe while affording them some shelter from the elements. She placed her hand in the pockets of her jacket and rocked back and forth on her flat boot heels. “Nothing unusual going on in the back.”

“You watched for twenty minutes?”

Erywin nodded. The house they were observing was on a street corner lot, so observing the rear area wasn’t difficult. “Started the timer on my mobile the moment you told me she was out the front door.” She patted the device out of habit. “No one sneaking in or out.”

Helena nodded. “Were you able to get a scan of the inside from back there?”

Erywin shook her head. “No. The shielding was as strong back there as anywhere else. Maybe if we jaunted up onto the roof—”

“I’m not that eager—yet.” Upon arriving outside the house after their early breakfast, Helena attempted a scan on the Granstrom Home and discovered there was a heavy shield preventing any internal scans of the domicile. Helena wasn’t disturbed by shielding being there; most members of The Foundation had shielding of one form or another around their homes, but this was well beyond what she’d seen around most places.

Not to mention that she didn’t know Kaden could throw up shielding that powerful.

 

Right off the bad Helena’s Black Magic Senses are tingling, and that’s never a good sign.  She’s a suspicious person, and they are aroused.  Also, there’s another detail . . .

 

Erywin felt the anger radiating off the person who meant the most to her. “What’s bothering you, my pretty girl?”

Helena turned away from the house and began walking past the playground equipment towards the shelter in the distance. “The amount of shielding around the house concerns me.”

“Not normal?”

“It just seems excessive. It’s not as if we have that much around our house—”

“Yes, we do.” She took hold of Helena’s right arm. “But then, you have a reason for that. I’m certain he does as well.”

Helena slowly dropped the light bending spell, allowing them to turn visible slowly. “True; he is a paranoid Sideliner.” She shook her head. “The reports the Guardians supplied didn’t mention it was that extensive.”

Erywin was the first to admit that this operation spooked her, but based upon everything she’d read about Kaden, he was worried about being observed, so she didn’t find his measures all that unusual. “Perhaps we don’t need to see inside the house.”

“It would be nice to know what he’s up to in there.” The approached the open, modern shelter—somewhat like the pavilions back at Salem—and walked inside. Helena threw up a spell to help block out the north wind and sat. “I’d like to know if Tanith is in there doing . . . things.”

Erywin sat as well. “Or if he is.”

“Of if they both are.” She shrugged. “Let’s hope the kids are having a better time of things.”

 

Things, huh?  Like . . . stuff?  Magical stuff?  Which is possible:  maybe the Guardians suspect he’s starting to show his little girl how to do magic, but, again, he doesn’t want people snooping around–like Helena and Erywin are doing.  Oh, and where are the kids?  You’ll find out next scene.

In the mean time:

 

“It’s all right.” Erywin gave Helena’s hand a gentle squeeze. “What’s next?”

“Stick to the plan: you’ll go back to the hotel for now and take what we have and transfer it to our off-site storage, and I’ll head up to where Kaden’s works and observe him for a bit. When I’m done I’ll come back to the hotel.”

Erywin nodded. “And the kids stay on site all day?”

“Yes: that doesn’t change.”

“Understood.” Erywin looked about the park and took in the chilly, blustery day. “Not how I would have expected things to start. But . . .” She patted Helena’s hand. “Could be snowing.”

“I’ve had that happen.” Helena stared across the park at the Granstrom house. Though she knew Erywin was correct—that he was probably doing what he could to keep out unwanted observation from The Foundation—she was still bothered that she couldn’t get a look inside. What are you doing in there, Kaden? What are you hiding? Do you know what’s happening to your daughter, and you’re afraid some nice Foundation people are going to find out as well?  Well, too late for that—

She shook her head. “Let’s move on.” She stood and wrapped her coat around her. “We’re done here for the day.”

 

They’re done here for the day, and so am I.  And what the kids will talk about tomorrow–

It’s not really operation related.

What a surprise, huh?

Writing, Thoughts, New Plotting, and Time

Last night was about writing, but it didn’t involve much writing.  There wasn’t any writing at all, if you must know.

There are times when one has to make certain that their story is in good shape and the area ahead not only makes sense, but isn’t full of potholes and landmines.  And of all the parts of my story, the Kansas City trip was the foggiest because it was put together a long time ago–probably started thinking about it in detail in mid-September, 2013, and initially plotted it out in started time lining and getting it into Scrivener a month later–and I was only meta sketching it at the time.  I figured in the next few months I’d get some more detail behind it as I gave it more thought . . .

Little did I know it would be almost fourteen months before I’d get to this point.

So, with Helena and Erywin safely under the covers, and Annie and Kerry in bed and in their dream, it was time to figure out what was really going to happen over the next couple of days.  But at the same time, there was unfinished business concerning the earlier dreams that Annie and Kerry had.  After all, they were a thing in the story now and I wanted to know they were in the right places.  For them, that is.

So I started getting down to business.  And the first thing I did after eating last night was download the newest version of Aeon Timeline–which was easier said that done, because the connection at Panera kept dropping on me.  It took me three tries to get it onto my computer, but get it there I did.

And with that in place, I started figuring things out–

As you can see, it went in like a dream.  I know . . .

As you can see, it went in like a dream. I know . . .

Everything from the middle of the screen and on to the right was done a long time ago:  over a year back if I remember correctly.  All the stuff to the left, however, is brand new.  There is one dream missing–their first one–but they were pretty young at the time and it probably involved a lot of “Hi.  How you doing?” toddler stuff.  But as far as the main stuff talked about in the novel so far, that’s it.  I know when the things happened, and I have an idea what they talked about or did.  As you can see, there’s a good sized gap in there–a little over a year and a half–where not a lot happens, but you can assume it involved . . . kissing.

With the story almost complete I can actually show the full A Level time line that I developed and used for the story.  Ready?  Here you go:

In all its stunning glory.

In all its stunning glory.

One thing to point out here is that those areas marked “The Big Time” and “Kansas City” take you to other time lines, which makes this less crowded.  Also, I’m not showing individual things that happened to either kid, so “Annie’s Story” and “Kerry’s Story” bring up additional information.  Needless to say, once I laid out the story in Scrivener, I went back here to verify that everything worked out, and if I didn’t, I modified the line here until it did, and then changed the Scrivener layout.  Seems like a lot of work, but when you’re 365,000 words into a story, you’ll be glad you had this proofing behind you.

And speaking of Scrivener . . .

I also laid out the next two chapters–which, story-wise, is the next two days.  Funny how that works out:  three chapters in three days.  If only I could write that fast.  It now looks like this:

So much better I have to pat myself on the back.

So much better I have to pat myself on the back.

Nine scenes.  A couple of them are pretty short, most, I think, are gonna be between one thousand and fifteen hundred words, and I dare say a couple there will pop up over two thousand.  If I use twelve hundred words as an average, then there’s almost eleven thousand words to add for these two chapters alone.  And with Act Three currently sitting near fifty-seven thousand five hundred words, this is going to take the story up closer to seventy thousand words.  Which means by the time I finish this part the story will end up somewhere between seventy and seventy-five thousand words.

Looking at this, and looking at what I have ahead, this leads me to believe that Act Three is going to come out at right around one hundred thousand words, which will make it a third shorter than the first two acts.  Oh, my dear:  how can I handle that?  Can’t complain, because I figured Act Three would be the shortest part of the story, but still:  one hundred thousands words as a stand alone novel is a pretty good deal.

With all this said, tonight I get back into the writing.  If I manage to somehow do a scene a day, then this finishes up before the end of the year, and I can write and complete Chapter Thirty-Eight before the end of the year.  There are still several chapters to go, but having looked at them and knowing what goes in there–it looks as if this novel will finally see “The End” written around the end of January, 2015.

Now I have to figure out how I’m gonna celebrate that moment . . .

Home is Where the Dreamspace Lay

Sometimes last night Chapter Thirty-Five was finished, tidied up and put to bed.  The last of the four scenes was completed, and I’m happy with them–

I wasn’t happy with how I felt, but that’s another story.  Maybe a change of pace going out tonight will liven things up just a bit.  I don’t know:  of late I’ve been in a massive funk and it’s affecting my work and my writing, and I’m not sure how to stop it.  Maybe some plotting and time lining tonight will fix things up a bit and get my mind off in a different direction.

I did catch a minor flaw in my writing, last night–at goof, if you will.  After a conversation I had yesterday about Annie and her statements concerning her attending Salem, I went back and checked out the parts of the story where she mentioned this fact.  It happened with Deanna way back at the start of the school year, and I happened with Kerry twice:  once on 1 April in Salem, and then three weeks later in Kansas City.  There was one point where Annie remembers something about the time different without realizing it has something to do with something she did her in “Last Dream”, so I left it in because, yes, these kids both have slip-ups in memory, and that’s something relating to her dream.  (And I can also have her remember that when she’s in KC, I love how to work that . . .)

But the mistake I made came about three hundred thousand words apart.  When Annie is speaking to Deanna she mentions when she discovered Kerry’s real name and wrote it down.  She also mentions that later to Erywin.  We know she told Erywin it was after Kerry moved to Cardiff, which happened after he turned eight and the summer before she turned nine.  But she tells Deanna it happens before she turns eight.  Oops.  This is where I have to make sure I get some keywords in place in Scrivener so I can keep facts like this straight, because I know stuff I wrote in November, 2013, is probably just a little off from things I wrote a year later.

But you don’t want to hear about that.  You want to know what happens next, right?

Well, Annie’s standing in the middle of a road . . .

 

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

Annie squinted as diffused light stuck her eyes. The scenery began coming into view, and she glanced right and left, taking in her surroundings. She was standing in a tree-lined street with houses on either side, though there wasn’t any traffic, nor were there any cars. Sound was absent: wind, animals, music, people being outside—there was nothing was dead silence.

She gazed down her body towards her feet. She was still dressed in her blue silk pajamas and her feet were bare. She touched the pavement with here toes: it felt like she was walking on the bed’s comforter and not something hard and unyielding.

She was aware shouldn’t be here, because she was in bed asleep.

Annie remembered getting under the covers and turning out the lights. She remembered Kerry telling her good night and that he loved her, and she doing the same. She remembered rolling onto her right side and feeling Kerry cuddle her and kiss the back of her neck before spooning up against her back and sliding his left arm over her tummy.

She remembered feeling content and happy and loved before closing here eyes—

 

Oh, Annie, you lovely girl.  Talking about falling asleep in bed with your soul mate.  But now she’s standing in the middle of a street in her pajamas.  And . . .

 

“Annie?”

She turned to her right and there he stood, slightly behind her and maybe five meters away. He was also dressed in his pajamas, but he wasn’t wearing his glasses. He always wears his glasses. She took two steps in his direction as he began walking towards her. The only time I’ve ever see him without them is when . . .

The moment he was within arm’s length Kerry took Annie’s hands. “Is this what I think it is?”

Annie looked up. “Does everything feel a bit strange to you?”

“Just a little.” He reached up and touched his face. “I’m not wearing my glasses.”

“No, you’re not.” She looked down the street past Kerry, then back to him. “This is—” A huge grin broke out on her face. “We’re dreaming.”

“This is our dreamspace.” He laughed aloud. “We’re dreaming again.”

 

Finally they are back.  This is what it’s like for them:  everything looks real, but there’s just enough off to make it seem not real.  And there’s a little test, just to see if it is real–

 

She wasn’t certain how they were doing this, but Annie was ecstatic to see them back in a space they’d shared so many times in the past. “Wait—see if you can change your clothes.”

Kerry closed his eyes and appeared to concentrate. A few seconds later his pajamas vanished and he was wearing the same outfit he’d worn from Salem. He looked down at himself. “Wow. I can do this.”

“Of course you can—” Annie’s own clothing changed, though instead of wearing the outfit she’d worn from school, she was wearing a tank top, jeans, and sandals. “You’re a witch, just like me. And if I can change, so can you.” She laughed and leapt against him. “I can’t believe we’re here.”

Kerry had never seen Annie so happy before—but then, this was their private world; this was a place they’d shared so many times in the past, and now, it seemed, it was open once more . . . “When we were talking about this tonight, something must have unlocked that allowed us to get back here.”

“It must have.” Annie continued hugging Kerry tight. “We were together last night—”

“But we didn’t figure out our last dream.” Kerry spun Annie around, laughing. “Oh, man. This is fantastic.”

“It is.” Annie kept her arms draped around his shoulders as she checked their surroundings. “Do you know this place? I don’t recognize it.”

 

We’ve seen Annie singing and showing off here nail polish, and now she’s leaping for joy.  Pretty soon she’ll want to go shopping, and she’ll end up dragging Kerry into every store she can find.  But that’s for a later date and a latter time.  Right now questions are asked, and Kerry does have an answer . . .

 

He nodded. “I know it.” Kerry pointed to the house behind her. “That’s my old house on Van Winkle Drive. This is Sleepy Hollow.”

Annie stared at the house. “I’ve never seen it from out here.”

“No. The only time you ever saw it in our dreams was out on the back patio and in my bedroom.”

She remembered something that he’d mentioned after returning from Yule holiday. “You didn’t go by here when you were visiting your grandparents, did you?”

He shook his head. “No.” He looked to his left, staring down the road. “My parents did, but I didn’t want to.”

Annie slowly untangled herself. “Why not?”

“I just—” He cleared his throat and looked away from the structure. “I wasn’t ready to say goodbye.”

 

Abandonment and separation play a big part in Kerry’s psychology, and both seem to go together.  It seems as if his life in California wasn’t much better than his current one in Cardiff, but he seems to have an answer of why he misses this place so much . . .

 

There were many things that Annie remembered from their last eight months together, but the thing that stuck out this very moment was one of the first things he said to her after she’d told him she loved him. “’This is a new chapter for me’.”

He shook himself. “What?”

“You said that our first night in the garden after you told me that no girl had ever said they loved you or called you their soul made.” She gently placed his left hand between hers. “You were talking about your E&A; it was the only thing you could remember.”

He allowed his mind to wander back to that moment. “I remember I was told not to dwell on the past.” He looked at the dream house and slipped his hands into his pant pockets. “And I haven’t been dwelling—”

“So why didn’t you go by and say goodbye?”

Kerry looked down and shook his head. “I couldn’t. I just couldn’t.”

Annie touched his chin and slowly raised his head. “My love . . .”

He blinked twice. “Yes?”

“Why can’t you say goodbye?”

“Because . . .” He swallowed and motioned towards the building. “I didn’t want to say goodbye without you.” He lowered his arms to his side. “I didn’t know why at the time I didn’t want to see this place; I kept thinking it had to do with what I remembered from the E&A, that I have to write new chapters and move forward.  But I know now:  this is where we met, were we played, where we learned about each other.  That’s why I couldn’t go . . .” Kerry stared deeply into Annie’s eyes. “You should be there when I say goodbye to my home.”

 

It’s not so much the memories he shared there with family and friends, but he now knows this is the place where he first met Annie, and he wants to be with her when he finally waves this place off.

However, Annie has some words of wisdom for him–

 

She turned and pointed towards the house. “That’s not your home, darling.”

“I know: it’s just a dream.”

“No, I mean . . . it’s not your home; it never was. It was a place that you lived until you were eight, and then you moved to Cardiff.” She took his hands. “Until you find a place where you can live with someone you love, and who loves you, and you both fill that place with your love, you won’t really have a home.”

She stood to his left and hugged him as they faced the front yard. “We shared many memories there, and many more in Cardiff, but those don’t mean nearly as much to me as bike riding in our dream countryside, or the place in the mountains where we picnicked—or your tree where you read to me.” She wrapped her arms around him and closed her eyes. “That place means more to me than either of these places you’ve lived.”

Kerry sniffed once and lightly pressed his head against hers. “I never thought of it that way.”

She nodded. “I know. You think of this place as where we first met, but really—” She pulled slightly away and looked around. “This place, our dreamspace, is where we first met, where we played, where we learned about each other. This is why I’ve missed out dreams: because this was our first home.”

He chuckled. “It is, isn’t it?” Kerry turned to Annie and kissed her lightly. “It’s our home.”

“And our home is filled with our love.” Annie nodded towards the house. “One day we’ll say goodbye to this place in person, but—” She stepped back and tugged lightly on his arm. “Show it to me so we can say goodbye now.”

 

When I wrote the above passage last night I was only concerned with getting it right, with writing it in Annie’s voice–which I do hear when I’m writing her dialog–and it didn’t affect me then, but just rereading it now . . . I teared up big time.  Yeah, I know:  I’m like Kerry.  Big surprise there.

But in those words you find the one reason out of many why Annie wanted Kerry to remember his dream, and why she wanted to return to sharing them with him:  because this is their home.  And you realize–and it’s something that gets brought up in another scene–that even Annie wants and needs a home.

Probably with here husband-to-be, but we know how goes, right?

And there’s on last thing:

 

“There were.” He laughed softly. “You really want to go inside?”

“Yes.” She kissed his cheek. “And then I want to see our tree again, and rest in its shade.”

He faced the house, holding Annie’s right hand in his left. “You ready?”

She stood alongside and faced the house as well. “I am.”

“Okay, then.” Kerry nodded sharply once. “Let’s do this.”

Annie nodded once. “Let’s.”

 

Those last four lines will get used at least once a novel, assuming I ever get around to writing them.  I also know something special about those words, too–I just can’t tell you, not just yet.

So, out with the old and in with the new . . .

Just like all my other plans so far, it's coming together--more or less.

Just like all my other plans so far, it’s coming together–more or less.

And as you can see I’ve already started some house cleaning.  I’ll finalize this layout tonight, and probably do a little writing an a little time lining, and in no time we’ll be through the Kansas operation–

Safe and sound, I hope.

The Deconstruction of the Wall of Dreams

There comes a moment when you have to pull out the last of the secrets and show them.  At least in this book, that is, because while I’ve presented a lot of secrets about my kids over the course of nearly fourteen months, there are a few that will carry over into other stories.

Right now, however, we’re dealing with secrets in the here and now.

Kerry is saying he’s figured out their final dream together, the one that both have had difficulty seeing, even with his memory block of their dreams removed.  It’s a big moment because it really defines why he lost touch with Annie, why he couldn’t remember all their dream moments together.

And how does he start?

 

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

Annie almost slipped away from Kerry’s embrace so she could turn and face him. “Really?”

He nodded. “I think so.”

“When did this happen?”

He looked down at his lap, avoiding Annie’s sideway glance. “After we fell asleep last night at the Observatory, I had a dream, and . . .” Now he met her gaze. “I saw something.”

His last three words had Annie wondering: did he have a dream, or was it a vision? She knew her rune dream was actually a vision, and while Kerry’s seemed to be more of a dream, one could also debate that something was telling him of a possible future, and reminding him of the steps he needed to take to get there.

Annie waved her hand at two of the lights and extinguished them; she felt there was too much light in the room, and she wanted things a bit more intimate. “What did you see?” No matter if it were a dream or vision, Annie had to know something about that last moment they shared in dreamspace.

His voice remained low as spoke. “It was short. I saw us in a fog, talking—well, not really talking, but—” His face twisted into a grimace. “I was upset, standing there with my hands over my ears, and I could hear you saying you had to go away . . .” He gulped softly. “That was really all I saw, but it was enough to get me thinking when we were flying back to the tower.

 

Something triggered him up at the tower.  Maybe it was falling asleep together and being in close proximity to Annie, and having things just chipping away inside his head.  He goes on:

 

“I didn’t go back to sleep right away when we got back to our rooms. I stayed up and thought about what happened, starting at the beginning, and then read through the books, trying to find answers to what I was thinking.” He pressed his face into Annie’s hair. “I remember, I had a bad day that day; my mom was yelling at me about something—I don’t remember what, but I remember I went to bed upset and wanting to see you—”

“I remember I had a bad day as well.” Annie’s voice grew soft and tender. “My father and she were going on about my attending Salem and how it was going to be great for the family to have another Kililovi there—” She slowly shook here head. “By the time my mother was finished I didn’t want to hear about Salem anymore, I just . . .” She held onto Kerry’s comforting hand. “I wanted to see you.”

“We were both like that.” Kerry slid down on the bed a little so he was cheek-to-cheek with his soul mate. “In bad mood and wanting to see each other. Only . . .”

“Yes?”

“When I saw you I knew something was wrong, and I felt it hit me. You asked me how I was doing, and I asked you. Then . . .” He swallowed before speaking softly and slowly. “You said, ‘I have something to tell you; I’m going away’.”

Now Annie did sit up and turn her head. “Wait, I don’t remember saying it that way. I told you that I had news, that I . . .” The realization hit Annie that the moment she’d had so much trouble remembering returned to her as if it had happened just yesterday. “That I have something to tell you; I’m going away.” The shock she felt flowed into her face. “I did say that.”

Kerry nodded while keeping his eyes downcast. “I know you said that you were going away to school in America, but that came after. By that time—” He closed his eyes. “I was already starting to lose it.”

The scene rushed back into Annie’s memory: Kerry looking sad when he greeted her; her telling him she was going away; the look of anguish that took hold as he couldn’t believe what he’d heard; she telling him in a dejected tone that she was going to America in a few months, that their sleep schedule would get changed, that she didn’t know how it was going to affect their dreams—

And the crying, the moaning, the hacking sobs as Kerry . . .

Annie’s breath quickened. She tightened her grip around his hand. “You thought I was abandoning you.”

He opened his eyes and a few tears dribbled from his eyes. “Yeah.”

 

Finally, just by getting that first little part out of the way, Kerry is able to remember what he saw, and so is Annie.  It’s one of those, “Oh, really?” moments when it happens–and because strange things happen here all the time, it’s not that unusual for it to come together suddenly.

But Annie remembering she came on a little brash?  Well, we are talking about Annie here.  And that leads here to what she remembers prior to this night . . .

 

Don’t leave, please. They all leave. Everyone leaves me. That was what he told her in the middle of his delirium during their night on the ward. Annie also remembered what he told her at the end of the first Saturday Madness: My best friend . . . and the only one who loves me. She understood the meanings of these statements: He feels I’m the only one who loves him—and that he was afraid I was going to leave him. She closed her eyes an saw Kerry in that last dream, almost screaming out his sorrow. Just as his Chestnut Girl left him . . .

Annie returned to the hollow between his arm and his warm body and wrapped his arm around her. “I’m sorry I hurt you, Kerry. I didn’t realize I was saying those things. Only—”

He continued to speak in a low, calming tone resting on the edge of sadness. “Only why did I forget?”

“Yes.”

 

Which is the reason that Annie’s been looking at for almost a year.  And because she’s so close to the subject, right on top of the matter, so to speak, she misses the most important part . . .

 

He pulled Annie tight against him, as if he were trying to merge with her body. “It finally came to me because of our meeting with Erywin in the glen. The whole things about being able to affect a person’s subconscious while in a dreamspace—

“We determined one person can’t affect another that way.” Annie rested her head against his chest. “So I couldn’t have done anything to you.”

“You didn’t have to.” He sighed. “I did it. I affected my own subconscious. Because . . .”

Annie didn’t wait for him to answer, because she knew the answer. “Because we didn’t know you were a witch.”

“Right. Neither of us knew. The only people who did were The Foundation, and they weren’t telling you, so . . .” He slowly ran his fingers across Annie’s silk-covered tummy. “I changed the dreamspace without anyone knowing. And in doing so, I changed my own mind.

“Remember in my rune dream the girl who was talking to me . . .” He reached over and lay his hand over Annie’s heart. “She said before I could give you my heart, I had to break down the walls around it. That’s what I was reading about this morning—”

Dream walls.” Annie didn’t mean to sound excited but the answer was so obvious. “You walled off all your memories of me and our dreams.” She turned her head just enough that she could see his pouting face out of the side of her eye. “That’s why you suffered déjà vu—”

“But why I’d remember things every so often—usually when I was really upset.”

“You were getting upset—”

“—Because I was remembering. Not just the dream, but why I walled them off.” He turned his head as Annie did, and they were almost chin-to-chin as his spoke. “That’s why I didn’t remember anything: because I didn’t want to remember. I thought you were abandoning me, but before you could talk me down, before you could reassure me that things would be okay, I used magic before you knew what I was doing. I put everything behind a dream wall and sealed it off.” Kerry bowed his head. “I did that because I didn’t want to live without you in my life—so I removed you from my life.”

 

What happens when you have a secret witch getting all out of their mind over something?  They run the risk of doing magic and screwing things up.  Just as on this operation they’re doing they’re worried Tanith will do something in public that will hurt others, Kerry did something that hurt him–well, it messed up his ability to remember something that was important to him.  All because he’s quick to lose it emotionally, and he didn’t know he know magic.

And now Annie knows this:

 

She heard the pain in his voice: he’s still blaming himself for what happened. “Kerry, it’s not your fault for what happened. We were both in bad moods, I approached you wrong, and . . .” She shook her head. “I would have made it better if I’d been able.”

He nodded. “I know.”

“I never wanted to hurt you; I never want you hurt.” She kissed his nose before lightly caressing his lips. “I think I know why I forgot what happened, too.”

“Because you realized, at some level, that you’d set me off.” He turned his head and sighed so he wouldn’t exhale into Annie’s face. “And in doing so, you’d somehow pushed me away.”

“That sounds right. I could remember you—”

“And you remembered that you wanted me back.” For the first time he smiled. “I got that part.”

“I did: more than anything.”

He pulled her close and kissed her. “Why did you want me to remember everything? Even after I feel in love with you again?”

“Because I wanted all of you.” Annie settled back into his arms. “I wanted you to return to every moment we ever shared, because all of those moment were the best of my life.” She grinned. “And you should know by now, when I want something—”

“You get it.” He hugged her tight. “I know.”

 

All better now–right?  It would seem that things are right in the world again.  And it’s a simple reason why Annie wanted him to remember:  because she wanted him back.  All of him.  Because she’s a selfish girl, and no way in hell was she going to leave him not knowing everything they did.

There is, however, a final revelation . . .

 

Annie closed her eyes and found herself drifting. “It’s funny, but now I can remember it all.”

“So can I.” He used simple levitation to adjust the pillow behind his back. “I think I broke down the last bit of the wall around my heart, and that probably affect whatever block you had.”

The implication of such a thing washed over Annie. “Does that mean we’ll share dreamspace again?”

“It might. One of the books indicated that lucid dreaming is easier when there are no barriers in your subconscious to hinder your progress.” He shrugged. “We’ll have to see.”

Oh, I hope it’s so . . . Annie drew in a deep breath and released it slowly, feeling cleansed after. “I’m so glad I had you read all those books.”

Kerry said nothing for almost five seconds, then quietly cleared his throat. “I wonder if it was you who had me read those books?”

“You know—” She barely turned her head as she gazed to here left. “What are you thinking?”

“It was our first day at school, I knew nothing about magic, we go visit the school seer—who we won’t have class with for three years—and a while later you’ve got me reading all sorts of books on divination and visions and dreams . . . With all the magic I could have studied, why that?” He almost whispered the question. “Didn’t you say Deanna had us in a trance?”

Deanna’s words in the hospital a few weeks came tripping back into Annie’s memory—You were in a trance for almost eight minutes: it was necessary—and it made her wonder what else the Seer saw in her vision on the flight over the day before. Did she see herself giving me an hypnotic suggestion to put Kerry on that path because she knew it would bring us to this point? “If you don’t mind, I’d rather not think about that because—” She half turned in his arms. “—I don’t want to imagine what else Deanna may know about us.”

Talk about secrets.  Is Deanna responsible for getting them to this point?  Breaking down Kerry’s walls and returning him to Annie?  Did she know this all along, even that first time when Annie came to see her?  Hummmm . . . I could tell you, but I won’t.

I will, however, leave you with my kids getting into something else here.

 

Annie threw her right arm over Kerry’s body and hugged him. “But we’re here, love. We’re together, we’re alone—and we’re back to where we were a year ago.” She glanced upwards at his face. “At least I hope we are.”

“We’ll find out.” He touched the towel. “How’s the hair?”

“Dry by now.” She untangled herself from Kerry’s arms. “I just need to brush it out and we can go to bed.”

She was about to slide off the bed when Kerry lightly touched her arm. “Can I ask something?”

Annie turned back toward him. “Sure.”

“Could I . . .” A red glow filled his face. “Brush it?”

She whipped the towel off here head and let her hair cascade over her shoulders. “You want to brush my hair?”

“Yeah.”

“Why?”

“Because—” He looked down at his feet. “I never have, and now I can.”

“Well . . .” Annie’s hand slid over and took Kerry’s. “If you do this, I might get used to it.”

“But can’t do it unless we’re alone, so I wouldn’t be able to do it at school.”

“Then maybe—” Her eyes sparkled. “That will come after we graduate.” She slid off the bed and pulled him towards her. “Come along, my love: I’ll show you how it’s done.”

 

Uh, oh, Kerry.  You better not do that!  First it’s brushing her hair, then it’s fixing the cabinets in the kitchen.  Just you wait . . .

Last night was two thousand and eight words of fun.  Really, it was.  I thought I would be upset writing, because I was suffering some major depression, but writing about it pulled me out.  And now–

There's only one last thing for them to do before they gotta get to work.

There’s only one last thing for them to do before they gotta get to work.

By the time they get back to school they’re going to be completely different kids . . .

The Moment of Clarity: Small Talk

This what comes from not being able to sleep and having something on your mind from the scene you wrote the night before:  you’re up early and you’re adding a hundred words before you forgot something.  And the killer is, I think I forgot something else, so maybe it’ll come to me later.  Or not.  If not, I’m happy with how it is now, because it addressed an important point that needed to get covered.

Five-thirty in the morning and it's not like I have anything better to do.

Five-thirty in the morning and it’s not like I have anything better to do.

Here we are with Annie and Kerry alone at last–really alone, not just sleeping on a sofa or deck chair somewhere, but totally alone–and doing–what?  Snogging away?  Well . . . you’d be surprised.

 

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

Annie emerged from the bathroom with her folded clothes in her hands, her favorite towel wrapped around her head drying her hair, and her favorite long blue robe wrapped around matching silk pajamas. She quickly surveyed the room: television on but sound turned down low; Kerry in his lounging pajamas sitting on the bed right side of the bed, head turned to the left as he stared out the window; his hands folded in his lap and his legs crossed at the ankles.

She stopped and open the drawer where she’d placed her unpacked clothes. He’s thinking. He has something on his mind and he’s wondering how he should tell me. She noticed the tee shirt and jeans he wore from Salem laying across his luggage. Annie half turned and looked over her shoulder. “Dear, are you going to put your clothes away?”

He snapped out of wherever he was and returned to reality. “Oh, yeah: sure.” He hopped off the bed, quickly folded his jeans and shirt, and placed them in the drawers where he was keeping his clothing. “Sorry about that.  I can be a bit of a slob sometimes.”

“It’s okay. It’s just . . .” Annie turned and walked slowly towards him. “I’m used to doing things a certain way, and this is the first time in my life I’ve had to share a living space with someone who’s not my family.” She turned her head slightly to the right and grinned. “Not that I’m complaining.”

“I’m not either.” Kerry crawled back onto the bed and rested against the headboard. “You just need to . . . teach me. Is that it?”

“I don’t know that I would have to do a lot of teaching.” Annie almost jokingly said, “train you,” but realized that would probably come across as sounding too mean. “But we would have to get use to living with each other at some point . . .” She glanced at the television. “Are you watching this?”

 

It’s already been mentioned that it looks like Annie will “wear the pants in the family,” and she certainly isn’t gonna deal with Kerry leaving his clothes laying around.  Like she says she’s not used to being around someone who’s not here family, and it’s even more difficult considering she has no siblings.  But she has Kerry, and . . . she’s certainly not gonna let him mess up her living space!  Sure, she called him “Dear,” but you can almost hear the tone in her voice when she said it . . .

And since she’s asking if he’s watching TV, that means she has other ideas . . .

 

He shook his head. “Not really. I just wanted something on for background noise.”

“Would you mind if I put on some music?”

“Not at all.” Kerry held his left hand over the remote on the nightstand next to him and levitated it to Annie. “Put on whatever you like.”

Annie plucked the remote out of the air and brought up the cable guide. She found a music channel and brought it up before levitating the remote to a spot next to the television. She stepped back as she listened to the song that was finishing. “Can I turn it up a little?”

Kerry nodded. “Go ahead.”

 

Given Kerry’s musical tastes, one has to wonder if he’s inwardly grimacing at the thought of what Annie’s gonna put on.  Probably not, because by now he’d know what she likes, and he’d also know their tastes are wildly different.

Annie does find something she likes, and we get to see her doing something that hasn’t happened all that much in the story:  we get to see her acting like a twelve year old girl . . .

 

Annie waved at the television: the sound bar illuminated and went up five point. A new song began, and Annie bounced with joy. “Oh, I love this.” She moved into the open space between the bed and the bathroom and began dancing as she removed her bathrobe and set it on a nearby chair, humming and singing along with the tune the whole time.

As the song segued into the chorus Annie faced Kerry and sang along. “Hey I just met you/And this is crazy/But here’s my number/So call me maybe.” She performed a quick spin and pointed at him. “It’s hard to look/Right at you baby/But here’s my number/So call me maybe.” She laughed as she sprinted and leapt at the bad, turning in mid-air so that when she landed, she fell backwards against Kerry’s right side. She pushed herself straight back into the space between his right arm and torso and got comfortable. “Are you gonna call me?”

He laughed along. “Do I have a choice? I’ve never seen you dance around like that before.”

“You’ve never seem me at the lake house when I’m alone and the music is on.” She twisted her feet back and forth. “I would bet anything you’ve never heard that song before, either.”

“I’ve heard of it, but . . .” He nodded. “That’s the first time I’ve heard it played.”

 

So there you have it:  Annie likes popular pop music, and she’ll even dance and sing to it when she’s alone.  And, I have it on good authority from someone who knows Annie probably even better than me that were she to have a theme song, it would be Call Me Maybe.  After all, it is about love at first sight, and Annie’s all about that.

But I loved having her sing and dance and getting her hand motions down, and in the end launching herself onto the bed, laughing the whole while.  She’s relaxed and happy, and she’s finally cutting loose a little.  And both kids are noticing things . . .

 

Annie reached up and ran her fingers through his hair. “I like that you changed the color back.”

He chuckled. “I was getting tired of seeing blond all the time.”

“So was I. I love my Ginger Hair Boy.”

“I figured as longer as I change it to blond before going out I’m okay.” Kerry focused on Annie’s feet. “Is that a new polish?”

“Yes, it is.” Annie always liked that Kerry took notice of her nail polish. She’d started doing her fingernails last year, and this summer before coming to Salem—mostly because she wanted something to take her mind off not seeing Kerry in her dreams and the upcoming school year—she started giving herself pedicures. Since then she’d been doing her nails a couple of times a month, and always made sure to show Kerry because he seemed to like them polished. “My mother gave it to me for Yule.”

“That’s a—what? Metallic gray?”

“Yes. It’s from Butter London. It’s called Chimney Sweep.” She flashed her fingers. “See? I match.”

“I saw you did them this morning.” Kerry noticed that Annie always found time in the morning or at night to do her nails—more than likely using some kind of localized time spell to dry them quickly. Since he’d been with her last night and hadn’t noticed the polish, he figured she did them early in the morning. “I like it.”

“I like it, too.” She crossed her arms across here waist and settled back into Kerry’s arms. “What’s on your mind?”

 

She notices his hair, and he notices her polish.  We learn for the first time that Annie does her nails, going the mani-pedi route, and Kerry likes seeing them painted.  Oh, and the polish Annie’s wearing?  It’s real.  Maybe not then, but it is now.  I’m sure there was something similar to it if it wasn’t around, but allowed a little authoritative licence, okay?

This gets to the last order of business:  what’s on Kerry’s mind.  And he tells her–

 

Kerry loved feeling Annie in his arms, and given that there was no possibility of anyone walking in on them, or overhearing what they were discussing, he felt more relaxed that normal. “I was thinking—”

“Yes?”

“I’m the only eleven year old boy in the world sitting in a hotel room alone with the twelve year old girl who could end up being his wife.”

“Could be?” The grin on Annie’s face was huge as she looked upward so she could see Kerry. “And this doesn’t bother you?”

“Nope.”

“Not at all?”

He kissed her on the cheek. “I wouldn’t have thought about it if it was.”

 

Pretty strange thing to think about:  Hey, I’m sitting on a bed with the girl who could be my wife.  Yeah, his mind is getting wrapped around that idea, and he’s getting comfortable with the notion, and Annie’s happy that he’s comfortable.  Nothing to hide there any longer, so just go with it.

But that’s not the real thing–

 

Though she was happy to hear this news, it wasn’t what Kerry had been considering earlier. “But that’s not all that’s on your mind—what were you thinking when entered the room?”

“Oh—that.” He pulled Annie tighter. “I figured out our last dream.”

 

And that’s where I ended everything off, last night and this morning, with Kerry saying he figured out their last shared dream.  Did he?

Well . . . you’ll find out.

At the Intersection of Tenderness and Concern

Here’s it is, early morning outside The Burg, and I just finished a scene and I’m hard at work getting this out.  I didn’t get a lot of writing done yesterday, because I spent five hours at the salon having my nails and brows done, and let me tell you, doing the whole manicure/pedicure/brow wax thing is a thing of beauty.  It leaves you feeling a lot better about yourself, though you’re usually ready for a nap once you get home.  Which I did.  Then I got up and turned on My Fair Lady and got about nine hundred words into the scene before I needed to crawl off to bed.

New brows; new nails; Sexy Rexy being a douche.  It's time to write witchy maheym.

New brows; new nails; Sexy Rexy being a douche to Eliza. It’s time to write witchy mayhem.

The focus of this scene turns not to Annie and Kerry, but to Helena and Erywin, who are off in their own room while the kids are camped out in theirs.  They have things to discuss, and not all of them are mission related.  In fact, there is going to be a “what the hell is that?” moment here early on in the scene, so be ready.

How does this start?  Like this:

 

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

Erywin watched as Helena emerged from the bathroom and made her way across the bedroom wearing the nightgown she’d given as a present this last Yule holiday. A lovely cream color, the gown dropped to her knees so she could move without hindrance, while the top was low cut front and back and held upon her shoulders with spaghetti straps. Erywin had picked out the gown because of the way it showed off the ta moko on Helena’s shoulders, upper arms, and back.

She’d always found Helena’s ta moko fascinating. She still remembered the first time she’d seen it: the night the bonfires were lit for Beltain. Though there had been plenty of opportunity through their first year together to run off and hide and “show themselves” to each other, they’d stayed up until 23:30 to watch the lighting of the bonfires, and on their walk back to The Pentagram Helena pulled Erywin into a small clearing just off the main path from the Flight School and said that she wanted to let her see something before everyone else saw them tomorrow night . . .

 

Naughty girls:  showing off native markings at twelve.  And the line there about letting Erywin see something before everyone else saw them tomorrow night–yes, that gets explained, but not for another two novels.  Yes, I suck.  But you love it.

This, however, leads up to something a little unexpected, so I’ll just let the scene speak for itself:

 

As Helena turned around the foot of the bed and Erywin, who knew her partner’s moods, saw the wince cross her face just before she set on the edge of the bed. She reached over and touched the sorceress’ back. “Are you all right?”

Helena sighed. “I’m fine.” Though she tried hard to mask her tone, the weariness in her voice came through.

Erywin slid across the bed and sat to her love’s left. “You don’t sound fine.” She bent forward a little and saw the pained looked on Helena’s face. “You’re hurting.”

“Not more than I have before.” Helena rolled up the heme of night gown, exposing her thighs. She ran her fingers across her thighs as she released the enchantments and winced once again as the nerve endings tried to compensate for of the sudden lack of sensation.

Before Helena could act Erywin was off the bed and half-knelling before her partner. “Sit back and let me—” She gently removed the right leg from Helena’s thigh and set it against the wall, then did the same with the left. Erywin laid her hands against the remains of Helena’s legs and crafted a soothing spell she’d learn long ago. “Better?”

Helena nodded. “Much.”

Erywin pulled down the nightgown, draping it over the truncated thighs. “Cuddle?”

Helena flashed her warmest smile. “Yes.” She pushed herself back against her pillow while Erywin retook her place on the bed, softly settled Helena against her body, and wrapped her right arm around her partner’s waist.

Neither spoke for almost five minutes while Erywin’s left hand lightly touched Helena, bringing her comfort and protection. When she found it necessary to speak, Erywin only wanted to confirm what she already knew. “Phantom pain?”

“Yes.” Helena folded her hands across her lap and continued to enjoy the attention. “A little worse than usual, but nothing I haven’t felt before.”

“You should go to have your legs regenerated.” Erywin pressed her face against Helena’s newly cleaned hair and breathed in her scent. “You’ve promised me for the last four years you’d get it done.”

Helena knew she wasn’t going to get out of this conversation easily. “I know.”

 

When I started designing Helena a long time ago–really, way back inn 2011–I’d decided then that she’d find herself involved in a horrible situation that would result in a life-changing event.  I’ve hinted at the event at the end of Act One, though I’m not sure I posted that moment as an excerpt.  I’ve also left a few clues that there was something different with Helena’s legs:  she always wore pants, she was never seen running, and the one time she wore a skirt, some observant geek kid remarked that it seemed a little longer than it should be.

Now everyone knows The Mistress of All Things Dark;  she’s a double amputee, and it’s only through a combination of magic and technology that she can walk.  The event that caused her to become this way will get explained in this novel, even in this part.  I wouldn’t leave people hanging.

There’s a slight discussion about a medical procedure that Helena has promised herself for years but never gotten around to doing, and then Erywin gets into the reasons for the pain:

 

Erywin stroked Helena’s hair. “So tell me, my pretty girl, why the pain? What has you bothered?”

“What makes you think I’m bothered?” She looked out the window and took in the city. “Do I look bovvered?”

“I’d have to see your face.” Erywin chuckled as she hugged Helena. “But something is bothering you; that’s the only time you get phantom pains, when something is bothering you. And it’s been bothering you for the last month.”

Helena saw no point of hiding her concerns now. “The operation. I always worry when I’m on one.”

 

We also pick up in the last part here that both Erywin and Helena are fans of Lauren Cooper.  I’ll leave that to you to look up.  But what is wrong with the operation?  What has Helena bovvered?

 

“I thought there wasn’t anything unusual about this one.” A slight worry began playing inside Erywin.

“There isn’t. But even after I’ve read every report, covered every contingency, thought of every possible problem, I continue to wonder if I’ve missed something.” She slowly shook her head. “Everything is a knowable unknown: the people we’re observing, the location, even us.” Helena turned her face upwards toward Erywin’s. “We’re the biggest knowable unknowns.”

“Because three of us are new at this?” This continued to be Erywin’s biggest fear, that her complete lack of experience was going to hinder the operation.

“I’m new at this as well; I’ve never had to handle two A Levels in the field before. It’s not just everyone else.”

“Then?”

“It’s wondering how we’re going to do as a team if things go tits up and we find ourselves deep in the shite.” Helena clutched Erywin’s hand. “That’s the greatest knowable unknown of them all.” She cut off Erywin before she denigrate herself and her abilities further. “You were at the heart of The Scouring at the school, and you were Vicky’s second on patrol and air assault during the Day of the Dead: don’t tell me you can’t do this.”

 

If there’s one thing that Erywin keeps ignoring, it’s just how bad ass she can get when duty calls.  During the Scouring she zapped her fair share of bad guys, and you can bet she was zipping around the school during the Day of the Dead killing Deconstructors and Abominations alike with that big gun she turned on Wednesday.  She might not be the sorceress her life partner is, but don’t cross her; she’d probably do you in without a second thought.

That leaves just one last thing–well, two actually:

 

“Yeah.” Erywin lightly ran her fingers over the ridges of Helena’s ta moko. “That leaves those two in the other room. Any concerns there?”

“Only one.”

“And that is?”

“Hoping they can handle what comes after if we have to turn them loose.” Helena lay back as far as she could and stared at the ceiling. “Everything else is secondary.”

 

What does Helena mean by “turn them loose”?  Are they going to be in a Loverboy video?  Far from it . . .  I think you know what she means, so no need to elaborate.

Up next:  We switch over to the other room, and see if Annie is still wearing the pants in this relationship . . .

Welcome to the Hotel Kansas Witchy

I am finally into the part of the story were we are all out of the school, at least for the weekend, and it’s not a holiday.  It’s Spying Time, and my kids are all ready–well, as ready as they’re going to be.  On the way over to Panera this morning I kept thinking of a good title for this post, and I finally fell on a variation of “Welcome to the Hotel California,” which, if you sing this title out, matching the syllables and time signature perfectly.  And now, when you re-read the title–which I know you’re doing right now–you’re singing it out in your head.

My ladies, and one guy, are doing what everyone does:  they’re getting into their rooms.  Of course, when the leader of your group is a slightly paranoid sorceress, things are done a little differently.

 

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

They entered the hotel room silently, as Helena had instructed them while they were in the elevator on the way up to the floor. Helena looked about the suite—a closet; a doorway to the left and another to the right; a sofa, love seat, table, and television at the far end—then pointed at Erywin before pointing at the door on the right. She raised her hands and initiated the spell as Erywin opened the other door, entered the adjoining room, and initiated her own spell.

A grayness swept along the walls and ceiling, hugging it, touching it, slowly caressing it. It moved over the wall to the left, the wall at the far end of the room, then over to the wall on the right before slipping up to the ceiling. It hovered against the ceiling for almost five seconds before fading into nothingness.

Erywin stepped out of the adjoining room and gave Helena a quizzical look. Helena nodded towards the door to her left. “This room’s clean: let’s check the other.” They entered the room, leaving Annie and Kerry behind.

A minute later they returned. “Both are clean; we can talk.”

Anne pushed here roller bag against the wall. “You were checking for listening devices, weren’t you?”

“Yes.” Helena set her luggage and briefcase next to the door leading to the other room.

Kerry found the situation a bit curious. “Who’s bugging the room?”

“The Foundation.”

“Really?”

Helena peeked into the other room. “Sure. We’re a new team out on a field operation, and there are nosy people in the Guardians who want to make certain we’re doing all the right things.”

 

Nice to know The Foundation–really, the Guardians–might be listening in on you.  But there’s a reason Helena suspects this:

 

Annie, on the other hand, understand this world better. She addressed Helena. “You’ve put in listening devices, having you?”

“And enchantments that do the same thing. How do you think I knew what to look for?” She turned to Erywin, who was looking out the window. “Nice view?”

“I can see the Center—” She pointed at something outside to her right. ”Just across the street.”

“Which is where we want to be.” Helena moved to the center of the room and looked about. “Not bad for an executive suite. Then again, The Foundation is paying the bill, so why not give us something nice?”

 

Yep, let’s do a little spying on people, because someone’s gotta watch the watchmen.  Also, now would be a good time to show everyone where the action is taking place.  First, there’s the Crown Center in downtown Kansas City:

The scene of the crime, so to speak.

The scene of the crime, so to speak.

The center is also the location of the mall where the girl they are watching, Tanith, goes and hangs; on the picture above, it’s right where it says, “Crown Center Ice Terrace”.  The hotel where everyone is staying, the Sheraton Crown Center Kansas City, is the building in the upper right hand corner with the circle on top, which is actually the restaurant and lounge.  Here’s a better picture:

Hey, I can see Erywin in the window!

Hey, I can see Erywin in the window!

We can figure out from Erywin’s view that they are on the south side of the building, and probably high up, because they have nice rooms . . .

 

“It is pretty good.” Kerry stepped over to the door leading to the room next door and looked in. “The other room is just like this?”

“Yes: I asked for adjoining suites.” Helena snapped her fingers to gain the children’s attention. “This is the living area, as you can see. Main closet is right there—” She pointed to the area next to where Annie stood. “Through this other door is the sleeping area, with a king-sized bed and another television, and the bathroom.

“Here’s the plan for this evening. We’re going to leave for dinner in about an hour. I know you’re both hungry, but we’re in a different time zone here and we don’t want to make it look like we’ve just gained an hour. The restaurant is close by and is affiliated with The Foundation, so we’ll have a nice table off to the side where no one can listen in on us, so we’ll be able to discuss our plans for tomorrow without fear.”

Helena on the arm of the sofa where Erywin was already resting. “In the morning we’ll dine in the restaurant downstairs before heading out. I want to give the impression we’re a family, and dining in the open with others is the best way to do so.” She crossed here arms. “We’ll stick to the same morning schedule here as we have Salem: up early, down for breakfast by seven. And keep in mid we’re not adjusting for time, so plan on being up before the alarm and heading off to bed a little early. Ker—” She caught herself and smiled. “I mean, ‘Gavin’, I know you have your phone, so set the alarm for five-thirty.”

 

I’ve actually stayed in a suite like this in the Sheraton Kowloon during one of my visits to Hong Kong, and they are nice.  And they have joining rooms, which is a nice deal–in fact, in some hotels you can get three of them side by side and actually use the room in middle for your entrance.

And about that “Gavin”; that’s the first code name you find out they’re using.  But if I’m gonna tell one, I have to tell them all . . .

 

Kerry grimaced after hearing his phony name. “I really hate that name—Auntie Brenda.”

Erywin snorted. “I’m Phoebe: would you like to get stuck with that?”

Annie decided to join the name game. “I’m Nadya. I knew a girl at my private school named Nadya: she was a snooty little Normal bitch.”

This argument was one they’d already had, and Helena wasn’t about to go over it again. “Take it up with San Francisco: they picked the names.” She stood, dropping her hands to her sides. “Let’s unpack, change if you feel the need, and get ready for dinner.”

 

There you have it:

 

Annie = Nadya

Kerry = Gavin

Helena = Brenda

Erywin = Phoebe

 

And there you have it.  Do you think Kerry will tease Annie about having the name of a snooty little Normal bitch?  Not if he knows what’s good for him.

This brings up something that was likely on Kerry’s mind since walking in the door of the joint:  sleeping arrangements.  Being the only dude in the group it does bring up the question, “Where do I camp out for the evening?”

 

Kerry lay a hand on the handle of his travel bag. “So where are we sleeping—” He couldn’t help but grin. “Mom?”

Erywin pointed to the open door to his left. “Your room is in there.”

“Cool.” He glanced into the room. “You want me sleeping on the bed, or the sofa?”

Erywin stood next to her luggage. “Doesn’t matter to me; you can sleep where you want.”

Kerry was about to ask where Erywin was going to sleep when Annie was next to him, touching his arm. “Dear, she means that’s our room.”

“There are times when your significant other is far smarter than you, Clever Boy.” Helena indicated the bedroom behind her. “Adults are in here, and children—” She pointed to the open doorway behind Annie and Kerry. “—are in there.” She tilted her head slightly to the left. “Unless there’s a reason you two can’t be trusted alone for the evening.”

Annie glommed onto Kerry’s arm. “No, ‘Mama’. You can trust us.”

“Good. Here are the rules: that door stays closed when we are separated. If you want to come in and speak to us, knock and we’ll answer. Same goes for you: we’ll knock and wait for you to let us in—”

“However, if you don’t open the door—” Erywin smirked. “—we might have to come in and see if you need . . . assistance.”

Helena nodded. “Don’t leave by way of your hallway door; all comings and goings are through our door. Oh, and if you feel the need to raid the mini bar go ahead: someone else is paying the bill.” She held up an admonishing finger. “No room service. If you want something, let us know.” She waved them away. “Okay, go unpack and get ready. We’ll let you know when we’re ready to go.”

 

Helena–I mean, Auntie Brenda–is being pretty trusting letting the kids share the same room, what with those visions of wedding nights they’ve seen and the raging hormones they both have.  But, I mean, come on:  Erywin and Kerry sharing a room?  Not gonna happen.  And they would probably be a battle if Helena and Annie were sleeping together . . .  At this place and time Helena is quite aware that these two sack out during the Midnight Madness all the time, and chances are she’s aware they’ve spent a night or two–or more–down on the commons sofa.

Beside, if you don’t think Helena doesn’t have a spell up her sleeve that would keep them apart, you don’t know her like I do.  And seeing as how I created here, you don’t know her like I do.

The kids will be fine.  I mean, there are separate sleeping arrangements in these suites–

 

Kerry followed Annie into the other room and closed the door behind him. He scanned the living area of the identical suite, but said nothing for a few seconds as he considered his next words. “Well, um, I could—”

Annie turned her head and gave Kerry her best cold stare. “If you are even considering the idea the sleeping on the sofa, I won’t speak to you for the rest of the weekend.” She walked smartly towards the bedroom entrance and stopped just before heading inside. “Come along, my love: let’s unpack and get ready dinner.”

Kerry closed his eyes as he shook his head as little as possible as a huge grin spread across his face. “Coming, Sweetie.”

 

And . . . you can forget about that sofa, Captain Clueless.  What Annie wants, Annie gets, and what she wants is for you to be sleeping right next to her.

Why, it’s almost like being married . . .