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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 in 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 . . .

34 thoughts on “At the Intersection of Tenderness and Concern

  1. Wow, Helena ! That was indeed a big, big surprise. I assume it happened during The Scouring massacre. The Deconstructors really mean business. They even kill the young ones. What made them so evil ? Well, Voldemort wanted immortality. I’m aware what the Deconstructors want, more or less… power over the Normals ? World domination ? With all the power they possess, why, they can even rob Fort Knox ! So yeah, I can understand.

    • Actually, Helena was never at the Scouring: in the novel I wrote of the event you don’t see her until the very end coming into the school to investigate. No, this happened . . . elsewhere.

      I had someone tell me, years ago, not to do that to Helena; they were very uncomfortable with the whys and wherefores of her situation. In the end it was what I wanted for her, and it’s a testimony to her relationship with Erywin that the later has stuck by her no matter what.

      As to why the Deconstructors don’t like The Foundation–that’ll come out in time, but not in this novel.

      • Oh, Helena wasn’t ? So, why did that Mr. Gabriel taunted her about The Scouring ? She didn’t do enough to make it safe for the people there ? ( I know where it happened… you told me. ) No, you don’t need to tell me. These are rhetorical questions.

        Wow ! So, these are the people Annie and kerry will have to face in the future.

        And I have a feeling The Foundation knows these two’s abilities. They are special.

        • The Scouring, you’ll find out, started at the School in 2000 and actually continued off and on in other places, finally ending about 2002. That’ll all come together . . . later.

          Yes, these are the droids they’ll be looking for. Eventually.

          Here’s the thing; we know The Foundation tagged onto Kerry before he was six, an Annie was, to paraphrase Helena, a known known. Annie was easy to watch, but by Deanna’s admission, The Foundation watched Kerry a lot–though why did they wait until the last minute to tell him he was selected for school? And Helena telling Annie her report said she was good but “emotionally immature”. Since when? The only time Annie’s ever flipped her shit is when someone’s left Kerry in harm’s way, but the rest of the time she’s *praised* for her maturity. Did Helena mean that Annie has blind spots that could become a weakness? What would she have done if Annie HAD tried to bleed her out in class. Or . . . was Helena trying to get a response from someone ELSE? Because a certain clever boy seems to be picking up this black magic stuff pretty well, even on his own . . .

          This is where I love playing with things like this over a long game. Because no one but me knows where it’s going.

          • Ugh. That’s a lot to think about.

            I can come up with a few theories of my own, though.
            1. Annie’s immaturity is her supposed ” selfishness.” She forced her dad to build the Lake House for some crazy reason as she saw it in her dream. And how old was she when she demanded that ? * shakes head* :/ I bet she threw a tantrum, a million times.
            2. Her weakness is Kerry…. and , maybe , her Dad. She does have Daddy issues.
            3. The blind spot is, again, Kerry. Don’t harm him, or she’d go berserk.
            4. So, why did they wait up to the last minute before they went to Kerry ? I have no idea. Because he’s a Normal, and they didn’t want him to think too much why he was chosen ? He’ss 11 now, time to go to school.
            5. Helena trying to get a response from someone else ? Is there another person, besides Annie ? She definitely wouldn’t get a response from Kerry. At that time, he wasn’t that good yet.

            Anyway, the title of your book is The Foundation Chronicles, and yet, we know so little about it at this point. Hurry up and tell, Cassie. I so want to know. I understand you have to set up the relationship of Annie and kerry. first… because, they’re relationship is the core of your story. I mean,
            their relationship is the one that will drive the story forward up to its conclusion.

          • 1. By her own admission, she bugged the hell out of her father until she got her house. It must have been bad, because her mother laid the “selfish” label on her then. But what did Mom see that she thought was selfish?

            2. Oh, yes: Daddy issues. And we know from the conversation she had with her mom that she sees a bit of her father in Kerry.

            3. We’ve yet to see if Kerry does the same. Should I say, just wait? 😉

            4. The report said they waited until the last moment because his psych profile said if he has time to thing about something, chances are good he’ll make the wrong choice. But . . . who worked up that profile?

            5. Sure, you can say that Kerry wasn’t good enough, but–do you know something Helena didn’t? DID she know something?

            It’s always fun to play this way, because maybe it is true that Helena just wanted to see if Annie was going to flip. I mean, she did know Annie had walked in the door with a death spell under her belt, which is pretty impressive, even for a Legacy. Helena knows what that feels like, because she did the same–though she had the benefit of having two great sorceresses guiding her so she didn’t start murdering people because they were pissing her off. She was pretty quick to agree to Annie’s demands, so–better to keep the girl close by so she could help her the way Helena’s mother and grandmother helped her? After all, almost three months went by before Annie starts showing Kerry Shadow Ribbons–could it be that was also a test?

  2. 1. maybe, it was like, ” What the heck Annie ! ! You don’t even know if it’s going to come true or not ! ! That’s a vision. Either it happens or not at all. And now you want your Dad to spend that much for a mere vision. that’s a foolish and selfish thing to do. So, what if it doesn’t happen ? You burn the house down ? ” XD
    3. Hmmmm, Kerry….. I’ll wait. Well, he’s done it for Emma , at least 2x. So it’s nothing special. He’ll do it for anyone. And , oh, yeah, I still think Annie won’t be his ” first. ” Don’t hate me, Cassie. This is the one and only thing that I want to be proven wrong.
    4. Helena worked up that profile. She’s with the Guardians. I bet she was on the look -out for potential Guardian,
    5. Sje knew Kerry was someone special. And together with Annie, these two are The Foundation’s Weapon of Mass Destruction. She wanted to guide them the way her mother and grandmother guided her.

    I’m sure there will be multitudes of tests. Everyone wants to know the extent of these two’s potential power.

    • 1. Yes, but there’s this: if she DOESN’T build the house, then it will NEVER come true. Something in the vision told her the house was hers, and the guy on the deck was Kerry. Sure, it could have been built AFTER they were married, but something told her she’d spend her wedding night there. She had to build it.

      2. What happened to two? 😉

      3. Just remember he cursed Emma, and hasn’t lifted it. He couldn’t stop her from liking him, but he could get her to stop talking about her to him. You just have to wait and see what happens with them.

      4. I won’t say. If I did, then I might have to change something. Or not.

      5. You’re right about the tests. There WILL be testing–in the future. I think the next scene with Annie and Kerry will be strangely illuminating.

  3. . Okay…. build it , just in case, and wait . I just thought they weren’t supposed to do anything for a vision to happen, or not to happen.

    I’m very sure her Mom had a vision, too., of her little girl marrying that boy…. I’m sure she saw kerry in her vision., just as she saw him entering Salem. She just didn’t account fot that little thing…. that Annie would actually build that house, he he he. WTH. XD

    #2 was kind of self-ex-planatory. I’m not that sure though about the importance of her daddy issues., besides the irony of it.

    well, even without the curse, I would eventually stop talking about Annie if I were Emma. It’s like , a GF or a BF constantly talking about an ex. That is never a good thing. If I were making a move, I would see to it Annies name would never be uttered , nor would I say and do anything that would remind him of Annie….. and just take advantage of any momentary lapse of judgement on Kerry’s part, and let hormones take over. … XD he he he I’m fan fictioning.

    • You’re not suppose to try and make them come true, but some visions are so powerful that you feel compelled to do something. There are times it works, and times . . . not so much. Annie felt she had to do something, and now she has her house. AND she’s told Kerry about it. AND he’s seen them in it. Makes you wonder if she didn’t build it and they both had the same vision what they would do then?

      Daddy issues: gotta love them.

      Emma’s in the friendzone like it or not. Since Kerry told Annie about what happened, you can bet Annie’s gonna watch Miss Ginger Girl From Bolder closely. And after a while Emma will figure out she’s being watched. So while she might make a move–I think you know WHEN that might happen–it’s up to Kerry to say no. And there are a lot of things left to happen in the next few years . . .

      We need a Ship Name for Kerry and Emma. Ginger Express? Red Kids? Dead Kids (if Annie gets a hold of them)? 😉

      • Whoah ! Just a minute there. Do you mean it’s actually going to happen ? And when THAT might be ? Polar Express, where they would be alone , just the two of them together , for days ? Well, depending on how old he’d be when the Polar Express thing happens, if he’s about 15 , ( when they say hormones are like jetplanes taking off, the pilot cannot step on the brakes , so to speak ) then, Annie, say goodbye to Mr. Innocent and Pure….. Another girl got there first. XD

        Emma tried during the Day of the Dead, tried on their winter break… and she was just 11…. I can just imagine what she’d do when she’s 15 or so.

        • Kerry and Emma alone on their own for a few days–such an interesting image. But, really: you don’t thing a certain sorceress girlfriend could do something to keep those hormones from taking over? Like, you know, striking a bargain with her boyfriend? Or going so far as to corner Emma and curse her? Do you not think Annie wouldn’t try to curse her should the need arise? She’d only need a few minutes alone. After all, strange girl be messing with her boyfriend’s virginity–nope. No good girlfriend’s gonna let that happen. Only one girl gets to tap those hormones. 😉

  4. Waaaa ! There’s a clueless, stupid person who will assign these two together for that kind of work. Prof. Solomon ? I’m sure helena, Deanna, and Coraline already know, by this time, what the deal is with Emma and kerry and Annie. To send these two alone, on their own is deliberately playing with fire. What are their sleeping and resting arrangements ? And I’d be more bothered if Annie needed to make a Sorceress bargain with Kerry. that means, she doesn’t fully trust Kerry. But who can trust a guy who would be left alone for days with the girl who likes him ? I don’t think Emma will let Annie hold her hand. She’ll be wiser by then.

    Aaaack. I don’t know. Emma is such a b…. Guess what… there are people like that. I have a guy relative who was about to get married ( his GF was already shopping for a wedding dress, church date had been sceduled, even the reception venue ) … but then he obliged to have dinner with a co-worker who had been crushing on him for a long time…. she said it was a good-bye dinner… but after dinner, with wine, he didn’t complain when the woman drove into a motel. ….. just that one time, he made her pregnant. A momentary lapse in judgement, and just like that, it wreaked havoc on someone’s life.

    The bottomline is, it always takes two to dance the tango, it always depends on the guy… no excuses.

    • Again, I know all the details, so I can’t tell you anything. And Annie would never make a bargain like that with Kerry: if she can’t trust him, then she would find it even more difficult to love him. You’ll have to wait.

      I know those teenage hormones will be in overdrive, but you have to give Kerry credit: after all, he’s pretty good with transformation magic, so maybe he’ll just shut them down for a couple of days.

  5. ” Oh, trust me: if there was ever a throw down with Annie and Emma because Annie “suspected” something between them, it wouldn’t go well for Emma”

    OMG ! Now there’s suspicion galore. It’s not enough there’s real danger lurking in every corner, thow in trust issues, and bam…. we’ll have one messed up girl. * darn, where’s my rifle ? ” XD

    You forgot to include truth serum, or whatever you call it. I’d sneak it into kerry’s juice, if I were Annie… then start asking questions. here’s the thing…. why should it come to that point ?

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