Out of the hospital, and into The Pentagram Gardens. That would make a good title for a television show, you know? Though I’m certain there are more than a few fools out there who are gonna believe there are satanic forces at work, more than likely found right next to the hydrangea.
But I love my gardens, all protected by the fifteen meter high walls and the towers at the five points. Lotta space in there to walk around and do things and hide out if one were of a mind. And there are places to sit and relax, breath the scented air and wonder how the staff keeps everything so nice.
With magic, right? But you knew that.
So, back there last night with my editing, and my kids are out of the hospital, full of happy-juice, and things have been said between the Head Nurse and Kerry, so naturally Mr. Clueless is running about a thousand different things around in his head, wondering what the hell is going on. With that going on he invites Annie out to the garden, which is all misty and drizzly and dark, and it’s there that this goes down:
(Excerpt from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)
Feeling chilly as she cooled down from her run, Annie wrapped her arms around her body. She was looking over the opposite wall—the walk way wasn’t completely enclosed and the walls were less than a meter high—when Kerry wrapped his arm over her shoulders and pulled her into his hoodie-clad torso. “Here, this should help.”
She pushed herself into the warmth of his body. The medication Coraline gave her was designed to make her feel better, but the sense of serene contentment taking hold or Annie in that moment had little to do with the medication. “Thank you, Kerry. This feels so nice.”
“I’m glad.” He breathed in the cool, fresh air, of the nearby Atlantic. “I like this, the chill and the mist.”
“Yeah. It’s a bit like how I remember mornings in California.”
“It’s like this in the mountains, too.” She took a deep breath and let the cool, damp air calm her further. “May I ask something?”
“You’ve been quiet since we left the hospital.” Annie didn’t sit up or pull away as she spoke. “Is something bothering you?”
Kerry didn’t answer right away, and Annie wondered if he was having trouble finding the right answer. When he finally spoke, his words seemed like they were coming from far away. “Coraline came back and checked me out to make sure I was okay. After that we talked, and . . .” He drew a sharp breath through his nose, which he sighed out slowly. “She told me something.”
What? What did she say? Annie felt a touch of panic rising, for there were so many things that Nurse Coraline could have told him. She could have talked about the school, or The Foundation . . . She put those thoughts aside immediately. No, she wouldn’t have mentioned those things, because she can’t, not yet. This was something else. “What did she say?”
“She said . . .” He turned his head so that his face was brushing up against Annie’s hair and he was sort of looking at her. “She said you were in love with me.”
“Oh . . .” She pulled back a bit so she could see Kerry’s face. “She said that?”
He nodded slowly, his face blank. “Yeah.”
Annie’s eyes locked with Kerry’s and held his gaze. “Yes, I am.” She slid back under his arm and returned to where she was safe and warm.
There was complete silence for what seemed like a long time, but Annie knew couldn’t be more than a minute or two. She felt little tremors forming within Kerry’s body each time he shifted position, felt his breathing speed up and slow. She sensed the trepidation building within him due to what she’d just said, and she was struck by the notion that what she’d said rendered him mute with fear.
Kerry shifted slightly while doing his best not to move Annie from her warm cocoon. “Do you mean that?”
She nearly chuckled, because after the sincerity of her words, how could he not now know her true intentions? “Yes, I mean it.” Once more she tilted her head so she could see his face. “I wouldn’t have said that if I wasn’t serious. You should know that about me by now, Kerry.” She settled back in and waited for his response—likely proceeded by another protracted silence. Annie hadn’t given her statement any thought, and she felt her own rising agitation as she pushed away her fear. She closed her eyes and drove all negative thoughts from her mind. It’s going to be okay. It will. It—
“How long?” Kerry’s voice was clear and there was nary a tremor or waver as he spoke.
Annie extracted herself from Kerry’s arm again, then slid a little to her left so she could shift her whole body. She needed to face him, to let him see her. “For a long time, Kerry. From . . .” No, she couldn’t tell him the whole truth yet since he still didn’t seem to know who she was. Being too honest and forthright might, could, possibly, devastate him. “I know this is hard for you to believe, and it probably won’t make any sense, but I’ve loved you from before we met in London. From long before that.” She softened her gaze and slowly rolled her shoulders. “It’s true, though: I love you.” She leaned her head against her right shoulder. “I should have said something sooner—”
“I’m glad you didn’t.” Kerry chuckled at his own lame attempt at humor. “I, um . . . probably would have freaked.”
“I didn’t know Coraline would say something—” Annie wondered if the medicine she was given was preventing her from being upset with the school doctor, then pushed the though aside and set it in the bin with the other collected horrid thoughts. I was going to tell him this weekend, but it’s better this is out now. “I didn’t know she knew.”
Kerry shrugged. “Yeah, well, I guess as I was telling her about our last week together, and our dinner and walk last night, she managed to put everything together.” He shrugged. “More than I could do.” He shifted his body and slid his left leg under his right so he could face Annie. “That’s why you looked at her so strangely when you came into the waiting room.”
She needed a few seconds to remember what happened. Annie saw the scene, with her walking into the waiting room, asking if Kerry was okay, and then Nurse Coraline . . . “Oh, I see what you mean. When she hugged you.” Her lips tightened while her eyes grew dark. “Now I understand.”
“She wanted to see . . .” She didn’t want to explain that since Coraline knew Annie was in love with Kerry, she was provoking a response. “It’s not important. Just know that I know what she did.”
Annie watched Kerry’s eyes, and even in the dim light she saw something happening behind them. She’d seen him do this as well: he was thinking, processing, going over things in him mind. He was weighting to pros and cons of their last few minutes of conversation.
But she was also watching his body language, and that said far more than his eyes. “You’re not running.”
“What?” He snapped away from his thoughts and turned his attention back to Annie.
“You’re not running. You’re not fidgeting.” She took a chance with her next statement. “You’re not frightened of me, of what I’ve told you.”
Kerry’s calm gaze never wavered. “No, I’m not.”
Annie slid a few centimeters closer, testing his personal space. “Why?”
“I’ve just . . . I’ve never had anyone tell me they liked me before.”
“I didn’t say I liked you—”
“I know . . .” He nodded, his eyes slightly closed. “I never had anyone tell me that, either.”
He slowly drew in a breath and spoke in a low voice. “I’ve never had a girl say that to me.” He turned away from Annie and returned to a normal sitting position, his hands folded in his lap, his eyes fixed straight ahead.
For the first time Annie felt something like panic, though if she was right about the medication given to her, she could cut off a finger and not get too worked up, so it wasn’t physical fear she felt, it was all in her mind. Did I scare him this time? Or drive him away?
That was when she heard his sniffle and saw him reach up and wipe at his eyes. The psychosomatic fear was instantly replaced with real concern. “Kerry?”
His voice broke between sobs. “Yeah?”
“Are you all right?” No longer concerned if she was invading his private space she slid close and leaned against him. She laid her hand upon his. “What’s wrong?”
He slowly turned towards her, his tear-streaked face clearly visible in the misting dark. “This is a new chapter for me.”
“Something I can still remember from my evaluation.” He sniffed hard and wiped his face with his right sleeve. “I was told that when I walked through the gate coming in here I’d finished a chapter, and the second I walked out the door I’d start another, and that . . .” He sniffed again as he regained control. “Once back in the hall, things were going to happen that I couldn’t imagined in a thousand year.” Kerry laughed through a hacking cough. “No kidding. I never expected this.”
Annie slid her hand off and slowly slipped it under his left hand. She pressed their palms together before curling her fingers into his. “You’re fine, then?”
His nods were quick and exaggerated. He closed his fingers over hers and gave them a squeeze. “I’m okay now. It’s just . . .” He glanced down as their fingers locked around their hands. “Does this mean you’re like my girlfriend?”
She resisted laughing. Kerry was so—unsure of himself. She was unsure as well, because he didn’t seem to have the same connection to her that she remembered with him, and that complicated things . . .
Stop worrying about that now; it will change. “Oh, Kerry—” She closed her eyes and laid her head against his shoulder. “I’m more than your girlfriend.” Tell him the truth, don’t be afraid. “I’m your soul mate.” She rested, now as content as she had when they’d left the hospital. Even with the misty chill around them, she felt warm and secure. “I’ll always be with you.”
Welcome to your new school, kid. You’ll learn history, English, math, science, a little–well a lot–of magic, get instruction in how to fly and defend yourself . . . oh, and it comes with a girlfriend for life! Enjoy your stay!
There’s a little more to add to the scene after the, well, you know, the kissing part comes, and then this is done, rewritten, moved up to a second polished draft–
Then I can dive further on into Chapter Three, rewrite what needs it there, and then–
Hey, I have these scene rolling about in my head, and it just doesn’t want to go away . . .