The Delicate Problem: Opening Statements

Today is that magical day when I hop in the car and head back to The Burg.  A day filled with sitting behind the wheel for eleven hours, with a stop here and there to recharge.  Not sure what time I’ll pull back into the apartment, but I’ll kinda sleep in my own bed tonight–probably also need to take something to help me sleep, because I expect traffic to be a little messy going back.

I would say I'd be doing this around Cleavland, but it's more likely I'll start losing my mind around South Bend.

I would say I’d be doing this around Cleveland, but it’s more likely I’ll start losing my mind near South Bend.  And, no:  it doesn’t rock.

Because of a lot of things going on at what seemed like one time I only had about five hundred words written last night.  Only.  After doing over seven hundred in the morning, that’s close to another NaNo goal.  But NaNo is over as of today, and there’s no need to rush to get this done today.  In fact, it’s likely to be a light writing day, if there’s any at all.

In the meantime, what did happen yesterday?

Well, let me show you.  Because I didn’t write that much, and it’s leading into something that is going to affect my kids, so why not just show you?

 

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

Coraline knew she wouldn’t have long to wait for her visitors to arrive. The email she’d send last night said eight-fifteen, and they were running close to that time—and the person who’s volunteered to go pick them up in the Dining Hall was notorious for her punctuality.

She heard the lift arrive, and readied herself for what was coming next. The lift area was really the only permanent private area of the third floor: the rest was a single open area that could be configured however was necessary. Most of the time Coraline used this area for private examinations that she didn’t want others to know about, though they’d used this for emergency sleeping space and twice for a repair space for APs.

Deanna followed Annie and Kerry towards the circle of chairs about eight meters from the lift. Even from this distance it wasn’t hard to see that Kerry was a little anxious about Annie being present—particularly after Coraline had assured him last week that they’d met alone. But it was that meeting last week—and the discussions she had with Deanna in the wake of her conversations with both kids—that convinced her it best they all sit down together and have this chat.

“Hi there.” Coraline motioned towards the chairs. “Take a seat.” She watched carefully to see—yes. Kerry sat to Annie’s right. Never fails. “Okay, so . . . Kerry knows why we’re here, and Annie, the email you received last night explained the matter at hand.”

“I know why Annie’s here.” Kerry still looked a little nervous, but he’d settled down since entering the room.

Annie nodded. “We discussed it this morning before breakfast.”

“So you know this relates back to your visions.” Deanna took the chair across from Annie.

Kerry tried not to look bothered that everyone was going to discuss this matter together. “Yes, we get that.”

“It’s actually more than that—” Coraline sat and leaned forward. “Those visions—and Annie’s rune dream—have put you both in a delicate position of . . . I guess you could say it’s accelerated your sexual knowledge, particularly of each other, a bit more than what normally happens around here. Most of the time kids learn about sex the old fashion way, through stumbling and experimentation, though sometimes they come to me and ask questions before they’re too far along the path—and it’s always my intention to help them before any real damage is done.

“You don’t have that disadvantage any more: you’ve seen just about everything one could do on their wedding night, and I’ll take your word on it—” She pointed at Kerry. “—that you didn’t get to the main event in these visions.”

Annie and Kerry slowly stared at each other, then turned back to Coraline and Deanna, with Annie answering. “No. We didn’t see that.”

“Which is good.” Coraline turned to Deanna, then back to the kids. “We’re going to try and answer questions, and help you out when you find yourself in a situation that might find your willpower starting to falter.”

 

That Coraline:  she gets right down to business.  And it is an interesting position for her to find herself in, because these kids are in a unique position of having not only seen these . . . things, but also having felt the . . . stuff.  And once unseen and felt, you’re not simply gonna say, “Okay, forget all that and just go on with your lives.”  Naw, a little difficult to do anymore.

At least I’ll have plenty of time today to think this scene over.

It’s a bit awkward for me as well.

Invisible Moments

The long weekend is winding down, and today I’ll have several things ongoing before packing up and returning to The Burg tomorrow.  It’s the penultimate day of NaNoWriMo, and there are either a lot of people doing a happy dance for making their fifty thousand, or a whole bunch of folks are thinking about hurtling their laptops against the nearest wall.

"No, it's all your fault I couldn't finish this crap!

“No, it’s your fault I couldn’t finish this crap on time!  Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!”

Either way, you have to give people credit for doing NaNo, because it isn’t easy.  But the really hard part comes after, once you’ve finished the work and it’s time to edit and publish said piece.  There’s where the real work comes in.

But enough of that–what about last night’s writing.  Well, I didn’t hit my NaNo goal, but then I don’t have to.  And I managed just over a thousand words last night as well as getting in just a little over seven hundred this morning.  I finished the scene–it’s like the last, just short of fifteen hundred words–and shows Annie and Kerry working out the new equipment they’re going to use, albeit under controlled conditions . . .

 

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

Kerry hovered one hundred fifty meters above the Tesla Science Hall trying to get a lock on their target. He’d been given the information from the ground: C Level girl, dark hair, slightly tan complexion, wearing a bright orange pullover, jeans, and a long, open sweater. And silver bangles on each wrist. He was trying to get the tablet to key in on the bangles, as they would be easy to identify—

The tablet’s enchantment picked up quantities of silver, and Kerry zoomed in of the person wearing the jewelry. He pulled out the display to form a hologram of the girl’s head and rotated it to get a good view of the face so her could run her against the school data base. He thought off a message to the person on the other end as soon as he got a hit. She’s Kamala Juraspurna, from the Blodeuwedd Coven. I’m surprised she’s heading to the science center.

Send me the downlink, my love. Annie’s reply came back so clear Kerry would have bet she was sitting next to him. I’ll check her schedule. He did just that and a few seconds later Annie had the answer. She has classes in the hall, but not until after lunch.

Think she’s meeting someone? He was about to lose the person as they entered the building and let Annie know.

I’ll find out. There was a subtle mental chuckle. Let me go inside and find out; I shouldn’t be there long.

I’ll be here. Kerry sat back on the saddle and enjoyed the view of The Pentagram. Not like I’m going anywhere else.

 

So they’re watching people in the school–but why all the italic speechifying?  Well, there’s a reason for that–

 

Once down in the lower level office Erywin began going over things they’d work with while out in the field. First were tablets that carried major enchantments that would allow them to scan people much like the equipment in the hospital, which then could use a special holographic display to look at parts of them you couldn’t see. They could also tie into the local computer systems where one was “observing” and gather additional information on a subject—though the only reason they were now accessing the Salem servers was due to a link supplied by Isis, who as Chief of Security for the school was aware the training was ongoing. They also had a limited ability to see through walls, but most importantly, it could scan for auras and determine if a person was Normal or Aware.

There were also the enchanted phones. They could mask your aura so you looked Normal, or even hide it if you bent light around you, which was something Helena and Erywin were testing on them now. The most important part of the enchantment was the ability to speak to the other person using just your thoughts: you could send off your messages and receive them back the same way. Annie and he had to work on that, because when they first started trying that out they were picking up every thought the other had, and there was a moment or two when they were both blushing over things they heard. After about twenty minutes they were able to use them without embarrassment.

 

Enchanted tablets and phones–why didn’t Harry Potter have this stuff?  Maybe an enchanted sniper rifle would have put an end to Voldie’s shit real fast, you know?  Remember, this was one of the reasons The Foundation wanted to get their hands on that magic stuff, so they could do things like this with technology–just like what they’ve done with Kerry’s broom.

What I remember what to know is, what were Annie and Kerry thinking that made them each blush?  Those kids . . .

But they’re using their magic, too, in particular one spell they’ve both mastered . . .

 

Two meters off the ground Kerry angled in towards the grove and concentrated on pushing the light bending field around him forward and to the sides. They’d discovered months ago that two or more people who were invisible through light bending could merge their fields and see each other. There was a risk extending the field because someone could walk through it and see the person inside, but here in this grove they’d be alone, and they would only keep their fields extended long enough for Annie to climb aboard his broom.

A couple of seconds after entering the grove Kerry found Annie standing to the side of one of the trees. Like him, she was wearing a heavy sweater and jeans, though her jeans tucked inside her boots while Kerry wore warm socks and tennis shoes. She adjusted her messenger bag as she positioned herself on the saddle behind Kerry then wrapped her arms around his waist. Let’s fly, darling.

You got it, Sweetie. Helena had told them to restrict themselves to thought speech while out, so they’d get used to working with the devices before heading out into public. Kerry lifted straight up into the air, carefully picking his way through the space between the trees. You find her?

Yes. She was meeting someone—a boy.

Oh?

I did a quick scan on him from outside the room. He’s in our coven, a D Level. She rested her head against Kerry’s shoulders. I love flying like this with you.

Kerry laughed. Is that part of the report, or just an errant thought?

Annie chuckled. I am allowed a non-operational thought now and then. She looked over his shoulder. To the Witch House?

Of course. He turned to the northeast and slowly gained altitude. Gotta see if Helena and Erywin think we did okay, and find out what they want next.

 

The scary thing here is that now Annie and Kerry are good enough that they can stay hidden from others pretty well–it’s a given that Annie was in one of the school buildings and no one noticed her–so now they can sort of go wherever they like and unless you know what to look for, no one will see them.  I’m sure, however, that Isis has a number of things up her technowitch sleeve that might keep them from wandering into the Headmistress’ office and listening in on her private conversations–you know she has, because invisibility here is a thing, and Annie got busted trying to slip into the hospital with the same trick.

I wonder what sort of stuff Annie’s been showing Kerry on the sly though?  Time will tell.

The Night Discussion

Let me just throw this up here first:

Fluttershy yay!

Fluttershy yay!

As you can see from the URL I took this screen shot before I downloaded the certificate.  But there’s also this:

Yay again!  Louder!

Yay again! Louder!

See?  Winner.  I finally crossed the line last night, and my records last night showed I was just one hundred and fifty-two over, which when I take into consideration where the two twenty-six came from, you do the math and I was right on the money with my count.

Doesn’t matter:  last night I hit 50,152 words, so I’m in the books (ha, ha!) for a fourth NaNo win.  I’ll add to that through the next three days, and maybe finish up around fifty-three thousand or so, which would make this my smallest NaNo win, but I’ll take it considering during the two NaNo whereupon this novel was written, over one hundred and fifteen thousand words were added to the manuscript.

Not bad, Sweetie, not bad.

This NaNo took a lot out of me, mentally and emotionally.  I know I’ve said a few times I don’t know if I can do another, and then I turn around and do one.  This time, however, I’ve spent most of NaNo feeling like I wanted to burn this story and just leave it, because my feelings for the characters have been waxing and waning like crazy.  It hasn’t helped that I’ve had to write some personally emotional scenes between Annie and Kerry while dealing with my own emotional insanity, and a lot of that has really brought out the crazy.

But I didn’t really have to deal with that last night–well, not much–because the focus was on the kids and their decision in the Witch House earlier in the day.  Let’s just say Nice Ol’ Professor Lovecraft was having her doubts about the affirmatives she heard . . .

 

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

The moment Annie awoke she realized something was different. It wasn’t unusual for Kerry and her to be awoken and sent to their rooms: it fact, it had become a bit of a ritual for them to crawl under the comforter around twenty-three thirty and sleep for an hour.

The different now was the Dining Hall. Usually there were a couple of instructors and staff going through the space waking up the other students who’d fallen asleep. This time there wasn’t an instructor in sight—nor were there any other students.

If Annie were to venture a guess, she’d say Kerry and she were the only ones in the darkened hall.

“Annie.”

She turned around, still half asleep, at the sound of her name. Helena was sitting in the chair to the left of the sofa Kerry and she had come to call their own. “Hello, Professor Lovecraft.”

“Good morning, Annie.” Her smile was slight and soft. “And it is morning: a little after two-ten.”

“What?” She looked around the darkened hall once more. “Why didn’t you wake us up?” Professors Salden was on “clean up” for the end of the current Madness, something they did a few times a month.

“Because I thought Kerry and you needed to talk—” She raised her eyes towards the ceiling. “And now’s as good as time as any.” She stood and smoothed out her long night gown. “When you’re finished head off to your tower and get some sleep; we meet in the Witch House at nine sharp.” With a light pop she jaunted off to her residence and sleep.

Given that Helena mentioned that Kerry and she “needed to talk,” Annie’s mind immediately began going over some of the things said at the meeting today—yesterday, actually—and focused upon one thing in particular. She gently shook the still sleeping Kerry. “My love, wake up. Wake up . . .”

As was usual his eyes opened slowly. He sat up and yawned while he looked at Annie with sleepy eyes. “Time to go?”

 

Yeah, keep manipulating the situation, Helena.  It makes you wonder what sort of control she does have at the school–and the answer is probably not as much as you think, but if she wants something, she can get it.  And during the Day of the Dead attack, Helena was actually Ramona Chai’s second in command for the Rapid Response teams that were on the ground killed Deconstructors and Abominations.  There’s a reason for that . . .

Kerry is pretty sure he knows why Helena wants them to talk:

 

“Why we’re doing this?” He shrugged. “Why am I doing this.”

Annie knew that was the issue that Helena wanted them to discuss. She remembered how Kerry agreed to the operation after she did; she remembered the look on his face when he said yes, and the look on Helena’s face as well—and how she appeared to believe his answer wasn’t sincere—

She had wanted to ask him the same question.

“Why do you think that?” Annie didn’t want to directly ask him if he really wanted to go, or if he’d wanted to exercise his Right of Refusal. She knew Kerry was more likely to open up and explain himself honestly if she approached the matter through a different set of questions.

“Because I saw how everyone looked at me when I said yes.” He chuckled darkly. “Even you. I could tell you were wondering.”

“Since you bring it up—” She turned Kerry so she could rest upon his torso with her arm across his chest. “Do you mean it?”

He wrapped his left arm around Annie’s shoulders and held her close. “When the guy from The Foundation came to convince my parents that I should go to Salem, I was standing on the stairs listening to him talk with my parents, and I heard them tell the guy I wasn’t that great a student, that I was just average.” He gave a long, slow shrug. “It was all stuff I’d heard before, but that day it really hit me the wrong way—I remember walking into the living room feeling all upset and depressed because that’s how they’ve always made me feel—nothing special, just average.

“This thing we’re going to do . . .” Kerry rested his head against Annie’s and spoke in a low, soft, comforting tone. “I’ve never been asked to do anything like this. I know it’s a big deal, and I really want it to happen because—” He rubbed his cheek against her. “Before coming here I was thinking that there wasn’t anything special about me, that I was nothing more than an average kid who’d never turn out to be anything exceptional.”

Kerry turned his head enough so he could look at Annie, who had turned her head so she could watch him. “I really want to do this. Not because you’re doing it—though if you’d said no, I would have to, because I don’t want to go alone. I’m doing this because I’m not Normal, I’m not average . . .” He breathed in deep and let it out in a long sigh. “I am special, Annie. I know I am.”

 

Kerry’s always been the one who openly has wondered if he were any good.  He’s been quiet about it of late, because his confidence has grown, and he’s received support from Annie and given it in turn.  This is the first time he’s actually articulated his feelings that he’s better than his parents believe, though . . . sorry, can’t say anything.  Must.  Remain.  Quiet.

Annie confession that her mother would probably believe she’s doing this to impress her father, because it is long assumed that Annie has some Daddy Issues lurking in the background.  I mean, little rich witch with a father who drives in Formula One and used to be a hot-shot flier and racer at Salem–what’s she got to prove?  Nope, she’s not going there:  she considers being asked by the Guardians to do this operation a great honor.  And there’s something else . . .

 

She chuckled. “Even if we can’t hold hands.” Her tone turned far more serious. “There’s something Helena didn’t mention today about this operation—”

“What’s that?”

“We aren’t going to simply observe this Tanith and then speak with her: we’re tasked with bringing in a new witch. So everything she hears about magic, everything she hears about The Foundation, even everything we may tell her about Salem—we’re the one who are going to create her initial impressions about this world.” She slipped her hand out of Kerry’s and then held it within her grasp. “We end up doing this wrong, and we lose her.”

Kerry grasped the enormity of the situation right away. “She’ll end up like her father.”

“Or worse.”

“Or worse.” He squeezed her hand right back. “That won’t happen.”

“No—” She shook her head. “We won’t let it happen.”

“Then we know what’s expected of us, and what we’re going to do.”

“I believe so.” Annie rested against Kerry. “Still want to do this?”

He didn’t hesitate with his answer. “Yes. And you?”

Annie closed her eyes and sighed as she imagining being away from the school on this operation for a couple of days with Kerry at her side. “I wouldn’t say no for anything, my love.”

 

It’s a little bit more important that the operation seems on the surface.  Do this right, and though she might be a little late to the party, you add another check mark to The Foundation’s tally.  Do it wrong, and you’ve got another Sideliner–or worse, a budding Deconstructor–on your hands.  It’s a lot more than just doing a few magic trick for some new kid:  they have to convince someone that one, if they feel strange there’s a reason it’s not bad, and two, oh, by they way, you may be a witch and if so, welcome to the club.

Simple field operation?  Guess again.

Oh, and there’s a scene coming up . . . if any of you have followed the comment section, you’ll see there’s been some discussion about the upcoming meeting between Kerry and Nurse Coraline about, well, those magical birds and bees.  Now, originally I wasn’t going to write about it, however . . . given the revelation that Annie had the exact same vision as Kerry had that touched off this mess only a couple of days before–you can check my time lines, but it has only been a few days–Coraline is probably thinking that it might be a good idea to have a little family planing talk . . .

I wonder if she’ll start off, “When a witch really loves another witch . . .”?

But it's titled "April Fools" so I'm probably BSing you.  Probably.

But it’s titled “April Fools” so I’m probably BSing you. Probably.

For Whom the Foundation Watches

Before we get too far into this thing, this is my NaNo this morning:

And not a turkey in sight.

And not a turkey in sight.

According to my measured count, I have one thousand, three hundred, and thirteen words to go until I hit the magical NaNo Fifty.  I’m told I’ll finish tomorrow, but it looks more like I’ll get that out of the way sometime today.  And this means if I get in some writing tomorrow and Saturday, I’ll finish up with around fifty-three to fifty-five hundred words total.

Another NaNo in the books.  And who said I couldn’t do this?  Well, me, for one.

When I left off yesterday I was about cut loose with the secrets about this Guardian field operation.  What is being observed?  And why are a couple of tweens involved?

Your wish is my command . . .

 

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

The sorceress waved her hand once more and the floating display showed a man who could have been aged anywhere from twenty to forty. “Kaden Granstrom. Born February, 1976; attended Salem from fall of ‘87 until early summer 1993. He wasn’t the greatest witch in the world—even though we say we take the best, not everyone is like you two—but he was good with super science, and he had a Gift: he could do logistical planing in his head in a matter of seconds. You could give him an inventory list of goods that needed moving or delivering, and in about ten seconds he’d know the best way to get everything from A to Zed and all points in-between.

“The Foundation moved him into Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque in 1995. While the Sandia Corporation is legitimately owned and run by Lockheed Martin, it’s a major front for The Foundation and a lot of super science projects are conducted in some of the more secure areas of the complex. Kaden was a natural to work there, giving special consideration to our products and ensuring they made it to the right places on time.

“In April 1997 Kaden married Phaedre Balli—” The image of a young black woman replaced his. “She also worked in the lab, but she was a Normal and had no idea about what Kaden was and who he really worked for. She never knew his real work—because of his position he could claim extreme security prevented him from talking about it—nor did she discover that he was a witch.

“Then this little bundle of joy came along . . .” The display popped up showing Phaedre holding a baby while Kaden stood to her side. “Tanith, their daughter. Now that the happy couple had a possible witch-to-be The Foundation started watching them a little closer, only because that’s what The Foundation does when children are born to any of the Aware.”

 

Sneaking and peeping on a married couple and their probably not so baby girl these days?  Wait, that’s not all–

 

Before Kerry could express surprise at this news, Annie touched his hand to get his attention. “They’ve done that with everyone in my family, even me. Just after my sixth birthday my mother told me I was a witch and showed me how magic worked, and it was only three months later that I had my first visit from Foundation people.”

Kerry looked down for just a second. “You’re okay with that?”

She shrugged. “It’s not about being okay; it them knowing that you’re developing properly. And I was only visited every couple of years.” Annie patted his hand. “Don’t worry; you’ll see how it works when we have children.”

Annie moved the conversation forward, not giving the somewhat-surprised Kerry a chance to respond. “You were saying, Helena?”

 

Zing, Annie!  Just what you want to hear your twelve year old girlfriend to say:  “Just wait under after I drop a baby out of my girly parts, you’ll see how this works.”  And now Kerry’s gonna have to deal with the “Was she kidding or serious?” mind messing that comes with a statement like that.  He can handle it, I’m sure.  Probably.

As they say, there’s more:

 

The sorceress couldn’t help but smile at the way Annie told Kerry what he needed to know, and then set him up. “The Foundation kept an eye on Tanith, but didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary about her. By the time she was six there wasn’t any indication that she might slowly becoming Aware, which didn’t mean anything: late Awareness happens in children. However, not long after her seventh birthday everything turned upside down.”

Annie lightly tapped her leg. “What happened?”

“Phaedre was returning to Albuquerque from Socorro when her car left I-25 at high speed and rolled over several times. The local medical examiner determined she was killed instantly, and our own people confirmed that. The Foundation also performed an investigation on the accident to make certain there wasn’t any foul play, and confirmed that the right front tire blew out, causing her to loose control of the vehicle.” Helena shook her head. “Nothing out of the ordinary, just a simple yet fatal, accident.”

She waved the display off and sighed. “Kaden didn’t accept those findings, however. By the time of his wife’s death people around him noticed he was becoming a bit disillusioned by the whole Foundation setup, and Phaedre’s death only made him want to get away from them even more—”

“Why?” Kerry couldn’t understand the reaction if all The Foundation did was check up on his daughter once in a while. “Why’d he want to get away?”

“Some people are what we call Sideliners.” Helena came around to the front once and and leaned against the desk. “They aren’t going to go over to the Deconstructor side, but at the same time they want nothing to do with The Foundation. They decide they want to lead the Normal life, and forsake everything.

“That’s what Kaden did. He left his position at Sandia and took a position with a trucking firm in Kansas City—the perfect sort of job for someone with his talent. Tanith began attending school, and is currently enrolled at the Lincoln College Preparatory Middle School. Kaden keeps to himself and hasn’t entered back into the dating pool: Tanith has a few friends and seems normally adjusted—save for one thing.” She pointed at both kids. “And this is where you come in.

 

So not everything is rosy with this fractured family, and not every witch straight outta Salem is happy with their lot in The Foundation life, so they don’t quite go Rouge, they just sit on the sidelines and watch things from as far away as possible–if they watch at all.  And from the looks of things, Kaden isn’t watching–but The Foundation is . . .

 

“Like it or not, even if you leave The Foundation, you’re never actually rid of The Foundation—not unless you leave your old life behind and go underground—”

Erywin crossed her legs trying to get comfortable. “Because today’s Sideliner could become tomorrow’s Deconstructor.”

“Exactly. The Foundation would like to prevent something like that from happening. Also, they wanted to make certain that Tanith wasn’t a late bloomer, that when she hit puberty her Awareness didn’t hit as well. It didn’t then, but . . .” Helena raised her right eyebrow. “There’s indications is it now.”

Annie gripped the arms of her chair and learned forward. “She’s becoming Aware? Now?”

“That’s what The Foundation believes. The thought they picked something up on her a few months back—they manage to get an aura scan on her every three, four months—and while they haven’t picked up anything that would indicate she’s done any actual magic, they think she’s at the cusp and ready to pass over.”

 

So young Tanith is turning out to maybe be a late bloomer.  Is this a problem?  Does The Foundation look bovvered by this?  Turns out, yeah, they are.

 

Being the only one in the room who had been exposed to magic for only a few months, Kerry was a bit confused why there was concern. “Why is this a problem? How old is she?”

“She just turned twelve a week and a half ago.”

“Well, I didn’t start doing magic until I was eleven. It shouldn’t be that big of a deal—”

“Annie . . .” Helena’s soft voice cut Kerry off faster than a quick yell. “I know you know something about this—” The right eyebrow rose once more. “You want to get him up to speed?”

Annie’s gazed shifted to Erywin quickly before she slowly turned towards her soul mate. She’s read the same report as Deanna—Helena probably has as well by now . . . “You knowingly did magic here for the first time, love—” I hope he doesn’t get upset. “But The Foundation was tracking you from about the time you turned six. They knew you were Aware, and that you may have actually performed magic without realizing.”

Kerry stared back at Annie for several seconds. “Really?”

“Yes. San Francisco is the North American headquarters of the Guardians, and they look for this sort of activity constantly. You . . .” She lay her head to the side and gave him a sweet grin. “You set something off, they came looking, and they found you.” She touched his hand once more. “That’s why you’re here.”

“You probably did do magic during that time without realizing you were.” Helena stuffed her hands in the pockets of her jacket and crossed her feet at the ankles. “Spontaneous magic happens when you become Aware at an early age, but your mind is too underdeveloped and mature to understand what’s happened. You might see a change in your hair or a light tanning of your skin; things could move around in your room during the night; you might even imagine that you hear voices once in a while.” She held up her hand. “You don’t think anything of this; to a child of six or seven, even one as intelligent as you, things have happened but you’re not cognizant of what occurred.

“Now, imagine you are you current age, right now, and you still have no knowledge of our world—and this shit starts happening to you. What is your reaction?”

His reply was a short, soft scoff. “I’d probably freak and think that maybe I was schizophrenic or something.”

 

No kidding you’d probably freak, given that Kerry has been known to lose it emotionally over some slight things from time to time.  So if a girl who’s lived a Normal live for now twelve years suddenly finds herself tossing fireballs, what sort of crazy does that produce?  And what is the ultimate Guardian plan to deal with this?

 

“The concern with Tanith is that she’s going to go beyond the tipping point and have a full-blown incident where she’s overcome with full Awareness and the spontaneous spells just come. If it happens at home that’s not a problem: Daddy would more than likely step in and take control of the situation. If it were to happen in public, however . . .” She looked down and shook her head. “She liked to take the bus to the Crown Center Mall after school and on Saturdays, and if she tipped over there, the results could be disastrous. She could hurt others—she could even hurt or kill herself.

“The idea of this mission is to have you observe her on Friday, first at school and then at the mall. Watch her actions, determine if she’s really close to being Award, and even watch and see if she’s Crafting. Then on Saturday the plan is to approach her, get her alone, tell her who you are and maybe show her what you can do.”

Annie’s eyes shone with excitement, though she still had questions. “Shouldn’t the father be involved?”

“Normally it would be his responsibility to bring in Foundation people and take care of this with their help. That hasn’t happened, though, because he doesn’t want them involved—and we wonder if he even knows what’s happening with his daughter. The concern from The Foundation is that he’d ignore their advice and disbelieve their reports that Tanith was becoming Aware, and that she’d do so anyway.

“With that in mind The Foundation—through the Guardians—sees Tanith responding more positively to a twelve year old witch—” She pointed at Annie, then to Kerry. “—and her eleven year old witch boyfriend, who explain what’s happening to her by showing what’s happened to them.” Helena slid her hands back into her jacket. “I agree with their belief. I think once you’ve had the chance to speak with her, maybe even show her what you can do, show her that it’s what she’ll be able to do, Tanith will respond.”

 

So there you go:  our two little witches are suppose to find their target, observe the creature in her normal habitat at the wall, and then approach her and say, “Hey, look here:  I can do magic, and so can you . . .”  It seems like a simple plan–unless, before they can get to her, Tanith starts freaking out in the food court at the mall and blows up the Taco Bell, or loses it completely while trying on leggings at Forever 21 and gives one of the sales girls purple skin and a unicorn horn–which would make her a hit at the next My Little Pony con, but otherwise leave her screaming like crazy.

Which is why Helena said this mission could be moved up, ’cause there’s a witch in need, and she may need help pronto.

Now we know the whys and wherefores.  All that remains is to get these two trained up and on-site.

Easy Peasy, right?

Right.

 

NaNo Word Count, 11/26:  2,057

NaNo Total Word Count:  48,687

The Secret Witch’s Gathering

The last couple of nights have been slow going.  It’s been a little difficult to get motivated this week, but according to the NaNoWriMo site I’m three thousand, three hundred and seventy words from fifty thousand, which means by tomorrow or Friday I’ll pass that mark and be ready to verify my word count.  This will, by the way, be the lowest word count I’ve ever managed in four years of doing NaNo, but in a way it’s helped considerable due to that fifty thousand getting wracked up fast, instead of being doled out in small number throughout all of December.

My progress last night wasn’t helped by Internet issues.  I was trying to look up a few things to refresh my notes, and the bandwidth wasn’t there.  Which is why I was up at six AM getting things nailed down for my current scene.

I need real stuff, even when I'm faking it.  That's how I roll.

I need real stuff, even when I’m faking it. That’s how I roll.

As you can see by my notes, we know where this Guardian operation is taking place.  Does that mean–?

 

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

Kerry said nothing right away, and Helena hadn’t expected him to speak first. She looked at Annie, who stared right back with no sign that she was giving the matter much thought. Annie nodded slowly. “I want to do this.”

“Are you certain?” Helena kept her voice as neutral as possible since she wasn’t supposed to sway the child’s feelings either way on the matter.

“I am.” She crossed her hands across her lap.

“I see that.” Helena turned to Kerry, knowing good and well he was going to say—

“I’ll do it.”

She arched a brow at him. “You’re certain about this?”

He turned and looked at Annie for about five seconds, then went back to Helena. “I’m sure.”

Helena turned around and nodded at Erywin, who stood and handed two tablets to the students. “I want you to read these before you do anything—” Helena leaned towards the two children. “I mean read them. Don’t just skim the document and then tell me you’re ready to sign. Take your time reading them, then let me know when you’re done.”

 

Now that they’re both in, where is “in” taking them?

 

A city scape appeared in the display. “The field operation will take place in Kansas City, Missouri, and we’ll stay in that part of the city. We’ll set up a base of operation in the Sheraton Kansas City in the Crown Center.” She pointed out the locations on the view. “We’re expect to check in to the hotel on 26 April, though there is a chance the operation could be moved up. Still waiting on that bit of information.”

Annie examined the display. “Why would they move up the operation?”

“There’s always a buffer built into these operations to deal with anything that could be construed as unexpected.” Helena didn’t look concerned. “It’s one of the reasons they wanted to get you involved now, so we could test you out and familiarize you with the equipment we’ll use.” She wanted to put Annie—as well as Kerry, who hadn’t said a word yet—at east. I wouldn’t imagine the operation getting moved up more than two week if they do move it. That would have us leaving here for Kansas City on 12 April.” She shook her head a couple of times. “Plenty of time to get you checked out and tested.”

 

Welcome to KC:  I guess this makes them the Sunshine Band?  Over Helena’s dead body–which would probably be someone else’s, come to think of it.

There is a question that Kerry has, and it’s answered so there aren’t any questions about the witches in the room . . .

 

Kerry finally spoke up. “Is everyone in this room going to KC?”

“Yes: all four of us. In fact, that’s going to be our cover.” She pointed to her second. “Erywin and I will be traveling as a same-sex couple from England—a big stretch for us, I know—who are here on a combination business and pleasure holiday. We have our documentation for the company we represent, and we have an itinerary made out of places visited and places to see that will pass the tightest scrutiny.

“You’ll have a cover as well.” She pointed at Kerry. “You’ll be Erywin’s naturally born son. You’ll have a history you’ll need to remember, such as the name of your father, when he and your mother separated, when we met . . .”

“You’ll also have to remember—” Erywin chuckled. “—to call me ‘Mummy’.”

Kerry laughed right back. “That’s gonna be fun.”

“Yes.” Helena jumped back into the conversation. “But necessary. You’ll need to work on the accent as well. And—” She pointed at the top of Kerry’s head. “The hair, too. It’s one of the reasons you were picked: you skill in transformational magic.”

Erywin nodded. “And you have started to show some skill in minor self transformation—at least according to Jessica.” She stood and walked towards Kerry. “We’ll have to work on getting your hair closer to my color—”

Kerry focused on Erywin for about two seconds before the color of his hair changed from his normal ginger to something very much like the professor’s dirty blond color. He smiled as the instructor stopped when she saw the change. “How that—Mummy?”

Erywin glanced at Helena. “I’d say that’s pretty close.”

 

Not much has been said about what they’re picking up, though Mr. Gabriel did mention that Kerry was getting a real hang of transformation magic–and that little demonstration shows that.  Now, what he did was an A Level spell, but the quickness and completeness surprised Erywin–stopped her in her tracks, you might say–which shows Kerry’s pretty much mastered that spell.

Annie has her own question, and this leads to a quick wake up of something potentially troubling for Kerry and her . . .

 

Annie had her own concern, however. “If Kerry is pretending to be Professor Sla—”

“No titles, please.” Helena held up her hand. “When we are meeting like this, it’s first name basis at all times. In pubic it’s one thing, here it’s another.”

Annie fell right into step, since she was already used to this. “Then if Kerry is pretending to be Erywin’s son, what am I?”

“You’ll be my adopted daughter—from Bulgaria, of all places.” She smiled back at the suddenly unsmiling girl. “It was believed that would be the easiest way to pass you off—that I’ve never been married and that I adopted a girl from Bulgaria—which would explain the accent and language, and why you don’t look like me.”

“That would mean—” Annie turned slowly towards Kerry. “He’s suppose to be my brother.”

It hit Kerry in that moment what she meant. “Wait . . . that means that we can’t like—”

Annie nodded slowly. “Be close in pubic—which means . . .”

Erywin finished the statement. “No public hand holding or snogging.”

Kerry shot Helena a worried look. “How long are we gonna be in Kansas City doing . . . this?”

“We leave here on the 26th, and should be there for most of Friday and Saturday. If necessary we’ll return here on Sunday.”

He turned to Annie and sighed. “The whole weekend.”

She nodded. “We’ll miss the Madness.”

Helena appeared gravely concerned. “The things one must do for their Foundation.” She chuckled and pointed at the display. “Let’s see why we’re going there in the first place—”

 

Suddenly the idea of being Undercover Witches doesn’t seem like a lot of fun, not if it means you can’t hold hands with your pretend brother.  And missing the Madness?  Heavens forbid!  The world has suddenly turned into a mass of suck.  They just come out of a traumatic situation regarding their relationship, and they’ve being told they gotta be siblings.  I guess we can now joke, “Do you kiss your brother with that mouth, Annie?”

I promise this scene will finish up tonight.  You’ll get some history, you’ll get the reasons why these two have been picked–you may even get part of the next scene.  Really, I’m so close to the end I’m almost feeling like ripping off three thousand words and getting the story to where it’s all tucked in and ready for bed.

It’s possible, you know.

 

NaNo Word Count, 11/25:  1,170

NaNo Total Word Count:  46,630

The Ins and Outs of Guardianship

By now it’s pretty obvious that the stuff that started out Act Three thirty thousand words ago (yep, it’s that many, and a little more) is now coming home to roost.  And since Helena came over to give the kids the “good” news, chances are she got all her wishes granted.  It’s just like she’s Dorothy and she traveled to the Emerald City to get her wishes granted by The Wizards, only somewhere along the way she ditched those other three losers and probably realized that Glenda the Good Witch was the bitch who actually needed to get put down, so she smoked her, too.

After all, I’d bet any amount of money Helena has taken down a fair share of witches in her time, so notching Glenda wouldn’t be that big of a deal.  But I digress . . .

In fact, this situation with the Guardians is going to take up some of the bulk of Act Three–namely Parts Eleven and Twelve, and all the chapters therein.

It just looks like a lot--and trust me, it probably is.

It just looks like a lot–and trust me, it probably is.

The good thing is, once this creeping and peeping stuff is out of the way, there’s only two more parts, and those deal with the end of school and Annie and Kerry heading home and breaking up for the summer and not seeing each other and . . . hey, do I know how to end a novel on an upbeat note?

Trust me, it won’t be that bad.

But let’s get back to the spook stuff at hand.  I didn’t quite make my NaNo word count for the day yesterday–mostly because I spent about six hours on the road and I was pretty beat last night–but I managed to push it over a thousand words, and now I’m only forty-five hundred words from fifty, and that means that while I’m likely going to make my word count for this NaNo, it’s not going to be anything to write home about.  However, my word count starting from last year’s NaNo is about 340,000 words, so what’s another fifty, right?

What’s the story here, Cassie?  Well, Helena’s being a secretive witch, and she’s got herself and three other people locked up in her office in the lower levels of the Witch House, and she’s doing her spiel . . .

 

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

It was only after the room was sealed that Helena spoke to the other three members who’d gathered. “Before we get into the matters of why were are here and whether or not certain people will agree to do something . . .” She looked hard at Annie and Kerry as she walked past their chairs on her way to the chair behind the desk. “I have to make this clear: what is said in this room today stays in this room. If in five minutes time we decide not to move forward, neither of you—” She pointed across the desk at both children. “—are to ever admit this meeting happened, or that we ever gathered on this date and time.” She sat, glanced at Erywin sitting to her left, then turned back to the real reason she was here. “I hope I’m clear on this matter.”

Annie leaned on the left arm of her chair. “I understand completely, Professor.”

Kerry nodded slowly. “Same here.”

 

You were never here, this never happened . . . always a great way to start out a meeting.  What else is happening, Sunshine?

 

“Good. Now, according to protocol I’m permitted to give you some light specifics on why I’ve ordered you here, and the meaning behind my statement last night.” She sat back and forced herself to relax. “Difference factions of The Foundation pour over our student reports combing them for talent. In case you hadn’t thought about what happens outside these walls, talent is prized by The Foundation, and while there are a number of other schools in the system, this is the one they look to the most, because only those whom we believe will become the best students in are allowed through Founder’s Gate.

“The one organization that examines us the closest is the Guardians. The reasons are simple: not only do we produce the best witches, but we also produce the best sorceresses—and being a great sorceress is a must if you want to become a Guardian. Knowing sorcery—in particular, knowing Morte spells—is the main requirement for being a Guardian, because we’re the ones walking in the shadows dealing with nefarious shit that we hope never becomes known to the Normals. And I say ‘we’ because I’m still a Guardian with a field operative rating—and I’ve handled my fair share of nefarious shit over the last two decades.

“The Guardians not only cherry pick our students records, but if they find someone they like, they contact the people in charge and ask for additional information on them, always in the form of a detailed report. If they like what they see there, then they take the step of requesting access to the student for a few days—usually no more than that—and they take them out into the field to see how they operate in either a test environment, or on an actually field operation.”

Helena set her elbows on the arms of her chair and leaned forward. “That’s why you’re here. The Guardians saw the reports on you and wanted additional information. They were given that information a few weeks ago, and now they want to see what you can do.” Once again she glanced at Erywin before looking back at Annie and Kerry. “They don’t want to test you; they want to send you on a field operation.”

 

You get too good in this world and you end up getting to play Secret Witch.  Aren’t they lucky?

She lays out all the stuff that she pretty much already laid out for Gabriel and Mathilde, and though she never mentions this to the kids.  She also lets them know that one of the reasons Erywin is her second is because she knows people–she’s a counselor and the school’s LGBT adviser–and it’s her job to figure out if the kids are, as Helena puts it, “mature enough to handle something like this.”  Which was a concern she brought up once, but not to Annie and Kerry.

Finally we get to the last bit, the thing that determines where we go with this . . .

 

Helena stood and came around to the other side of the desk. She leaned against the edge directly in front of Annie and Kerry. “Now we get to the important part: your participation. And here’s where it gets tricky, kids, because no matter what I’ve said up to this about what I’ve done to ensure that this mission won’t screw you right into the ground, nothing happens if one or you both invoke your Right of Refusal.”

As she expected Annie said nothing, while Kerry asked the question. “What’s that?”

“It’s simple. You are both minors, and remain so until you’re eighteen, the Age of Majority. Now, under extraordinary circumstances The Foundation can conscript sixteen and seventeen year olds for operations, but that in no way affects you. You’re twelve and eleven, and about the only way they could get you out into the field would be to kidnap you and make you do it against your will.” She didn’t tell them she suspected that could happen if the wrong people got desperate . . .

“That means you have Right of Refusal, and that means if you say ‘no’, then you’re finished, your not involved, there’s the door, see you around, and remember not to tell anyone you were ever here. If, on the other hand, you say ‘yes’, then you sign non-disclosure forms, we pull out the data, and we start putting the operation together.” She looked from Annie to Kerry before focusing on a point between them. “So what’s it going to be? Are you in, or are you out?”

 

And that’s where I ended it, because I know what they’re going to say, and you’re likely know what they’re going to say as well, otherwise I’d find myself writing something else.  And as I mentioned, I was tired, so I didn’t need to write the next part–

At least not last night.

It’s a new day, though.  Looks like I have a few thousand words to work out today.

 

 

NaNo Word Count, 11/17:  1,232

NaNo Total Word Count:  45,460

Out of the Dreams and Into Reality

As I pointed out yesterday–I think it was yesterday, yeah–I thought there was an excellent chance I’d write up the last two scene and finish not only this chapter but the part.  And guess what?  I did.  Yay me!

First Drafts for as far as you can see.

First Drafts for as far as you can see.

But the question remains:  what happened?  When we left my kids yesterday Kerry was crying on Annie’s shoulder while they were standing on the north short of Lake Lovecraft, and . . . then what?

Glad you asked, because I’m here to tell you.

 

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

It was completely dark now and Annie sat, still on the north short of Lake Lovecraft, while Kerry slept peacefully with his head in his lap. After his realization of who she really was and what she’d always meant to him, he grew drowsy and fell into a stupor, slumping to the ground as he set himself into his—and Annie’s—current position.

She never considered getting up and flying to the hospital to summon Nurse Coraline: she felt that Kerry wasn’t in trouble, nor was he in danger. Annie felt the best thing to do was to let her moyata polovinka sleep and see what he would do next—

She knew she wouldn’t need to wait long for that: Kerry began stirring, first with movement in his arms, then his arms, and finally a slight moan as his eyes twitched open. He rolled on his back and looked straight upwards into Annie’s smiling face. “Hey, Sweetie.”

“Hello, my love.” She brushed his hair with her hand. “Are you all right?”

“Yeah, I just . . .” His eyes moved left and right. “What happened?”

“You fell asleep—it was like all the energy left your body.”

 

Yes, Annie could have went to the hospital, but since Kerry didn’t have blood squirting from his nose and eyes–and Annie knows what that looks like–she figured it was something else, something not as bad.  And she was right . . .

 

He stared up into the sky. “It’s dark. How long was I out?”

“Maybe an half-hour.” She shrugged. “Forty-five minutes at the most.”

“Okay.” He sat up slowly, then turned himself around so they were sitting facing each other. “I remember the dreams.”

The smile on Annie’s face grew wider. “Which ones?”

Kerry chuckled. “All of them. It was like watching a series marathon.” He shook his head as he smiled. “I’m all caught up—at least to that last one.”

“Did you—?” Of all their shared dreams, all she remembered of that one was they’d met. Beyond that it was a blur. “Did you see what happened?”

“I’m not sure. I’m still trying to figure that one out.” He leaned forward as his smile grew brighter. “But I was there reliving everything else. Not only the regular ones were we talked and play, but . . .” He took Annie’s hand and held it tightly, as if he was afraid she were about to float away. “The first time we met; the first time I read to you; our first time riding bikes—”

“Did you remember what else we did?” Annie slid closer, hoping he’d remember what else they did that night—

“Yeah: that was the first time we told each other our names.” Kerry got to his feet and helped Annie up. “I saw the first time you told me you knew I was a real person, and that you were real too; I saw when you told me you were a witch—”

“That was my tenth birthday.”

“I remembered thinking how cool it was having a dream girlfriend who was a witch.” He pulled Annie close. “I should have freaked out—”

 

And from here it’s pretty obvious that if Kerry had remembered all of this before Annie and he had met in London, he probably would have known she was going to be there, would have hammered down her door the night he arrived–or at the least would have done more than introduce himself as “Hi, I’m Kerry Malibey” in the book store.  Other than the fact that neither one of them knew Kerry was a witch, they seemed to know everything about each other–and why not?  They’d been together for years . . .

They related once more about how they both remembered, in detail, the dream where they said to the other that they loved me, and Kerry finally understood how Annie must have suffered to have been with him and know that he didn’t remember him.  Kerry’s an emotional kid, so when he cuts loose with those feelings, he tends to go big.  We know he’ll cry at the drop of a hat, but when he’d happy–look out, Salem, ’cause you’re gonna know about it . . .

 

She kissed him long and deep, and was pleasantly surprised to feel Kerry return the kiss in kind. As he did once he learned to open his heart to me. “We’re together as one again.”

“Yes, we are.” He kissed her as she’d kiss him; when he finished he broke into an ecstatic laugh. “The Ginger Hair Boy is back with his Chestnut Girl.”

Kerry released Annie and began walking towards the edge of Lake Lovecraft. He stopped a few meters from the water’s edge, raised his face to the cloudy night, and shouted into sky. “Did you hear that? I’m back with my Chestnut Girl. Do you hear me, Salem? I’m back with soul mate—with the witch I love.”

Annie joined him and stood at his side as Kerry threw open his arm and yelled out his love, his voice echoing across the pitch black water. “I am hers again, and I will never leave her. Understand? I will never again forget my soul mate—I will never be with anyone but Annie Kirilova.” He turned to his left, found her next to him, a smile plastered across her face and her eyes shinning bright with love, and faced her as he shouted one last statement to the heavens. “I will never, ever love anyone else.”

He threw his arms around her and pressed himself against her. Kerry lay his head upon Annie’s shoulder and whispered into his ear. “Moyata polovinka.”

Annie whispered back to him. “Moyata polovinka.” She chuckled as she rested against Kerry. “I never once said that to you in any of our dream.”

“I know.” He closed his eyes and drank in the moment. “I’m glad you taught me what it means here . . .”

 

And that settles that.  Sorry, Emma, but the odds were never in your favor.

Did I say that settles that?  I mean that settles the dream stuff, but there was one last scene that takes place in the Great Hall, and . . . well, let’s look:

 

As they were getting ready to leave Lake Lovecraft she mentioned she’d flown only once at night—though she didn’t elaborate on that disastrous flight—and Kerry mentioned that the last time he’d flown in the dark a monster intent on killing his had chased him all over the grounds.

They both laughed as they sailed out over the lake, gained altitude, and sped off towards the dimly lit Pentagram.

Kerry touched down just outside the East Entrance and Annie was off the saddle the second her toes touched the ground. Kerry snatched the broom out of the air and carried it at his side in his right hand as his left found Annie’s right. They entered the Great Hall and, with huge smiles of joy on their faces, strode towards the Dining Hall.

 

Yeah, remember those disasters that happened the last time you flew at night, and just laugh them off ’cause love, right?

They get to the hall and the head of the kitchen says she’ll whip something up for them.  Kerry wants fish and chips with pomegranate juice, and Annie orders lamb güveç (a kind of Bulgarian ratatouille) and a lemon drink.  They find their table, they sit, they talk for a few minutes, and then this:

 

“There you are.”

The both turned around and found Professor Lovecraft standing between them. Annie felt a chill run through her, because the look on the sorceress’ face was one she’d seen many times before, and it was a look she didn’t like to see. She’s here on business— “Hello, Professor.”

Kerry nodded. “Hello, Professor.”

“Hello.” She motioned for them both to follow her. “Come over here; we need to talk.”

They followed Professor Lovecraft to a point along the east wall of the hall about a twenty meters from the doors leading to the Atrium. She turned so she could keep and eye on the area around their table—and the other hall entrances—before speaking. “No one can hear us here, but I’m going to keep this short. After lunch tomorrow I want you both to come out to the Witch House. Be there no later than thirteen-thirty.” She turned to Annie. “We’ll meet in the office I keep off the Vault.”

“Okay, Professor.” Annie was liking this less; the professor didn’t use that office much—she’d only seen it in passing, and had never been in there—which meant something serious was happening. “What’s going on? Why do you want to see us?’

“Yeah.” Kerry looked even more pale than usual. “Did we do something wrong?”

“No, Kerry. Actually . . .” A lopsided smirk flashed across her face for a few moments. “You’ve done something right.”

“I don’t get it.”

Helena leaned in towards them and lowered her voice. “Something important has come up, and your Foundation needs you.”

Annie was now as puzzled as Kerry. “What do you mean?”

Helena took a deep breath and mustered her most serious demeanor. “You’re being summoned by Guardians: they have a mission for you both . . .”

 

Cue the dramatic music, for things are about to get serious.  Mr. Gabriel got his way–he must be related to Annie, it seems.

That means Part Eleven–it’s one more, as you can see–starts getting into this stuff.  Not only will I peek behind the Foundation curtain a little, but a bit more drama between Annie and Kerry will arise.

Really, did you think I was finished with that?

 

NaNo Word Count, 11/23:  1,868

NaNo Total Word Count:  44,228