A Walk in the Park: The Magic Show

Happy whatever you are or aren’t celebrating today, for there are so many things that are and aren’t happening that it’s impossible to cover them all.  As I pointed out yesterday, Christmas Eve was once celebrated as Mōdraniht, which was a night when all the women got together and had a nice little fertility celebration for the coming year.  And today was considered part of the Wild Hunt, when Odin and the boys would go out and kill all the draugr that had collected during the year.  Draugr were undead, so yeah, it was a Walking Dead Holiday, and you needed to stay inside least you got mistaken for a Walker–which means Carl would totally have gotten smoked since Lori couldn’t keep him in the house . . .

But it’s April in my story, and in the last two days I’ve written just over two thousand words to finish up this current scene.  Thing didn’t progress as I’d planed, but I expect the next scene to start and finish today, and then . . . well, we’ll see what comes next, right?

As it is my kids are getting things set up for Tanith, and they’re not beating around the bush–but as I was informed yesterday, too, that’s sort of how kids are.  Why beat around the bush when you’re twelve and a witch?  Hop on the broom and zoom . . .

 

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

“Your father went to the same school we attend.” Annie moved a step closer to the girl. “He graduated a while ago and got a job with the people who run our school.” She looked down for a moment. “That’s where he met your mother—where they worked.”

Tanith closed her eyes. “You know about my mother?”

“We know where they met, what your father did, what your mother did—”

“What has he never told me any of this?” She stared at a point between Annie and Kerry near the base of the tree they stood alongside. “Why didn’t he tell me about magic?”

“Probably because of what happened to your mom.” Kerry tilted his head to one said and spoke in a low voice. “After your mom died your dad freaked a little and thought the people who run our school were getting into his life a little too much, so he left Albuquerque and came here.” He sighed. “He probably thought they were gonna start getting into your life, too, which was another reason why he left.”

“Why would he want to get out of Albuquerque, though?” Tanith shook her head. “I loved it there. This place—” She shook her head. “It sucks: I hate it.”

 

Hey, magical girls hate moving, too!  She liked it there in the Fictional Meth Capitol of the United States, and is not cool with Daddy uprooting her to one of the Rib Capitols of the World.  And why was that?

 

“The people who run our school have a large presence in Albuquerque. That was one of the reason your father wanted to move: to get away from them. And like . . .” Annie almost forget to use Kerry’s code name and caught herself at the last moment. “Gavin said, he was probably worried they would start watching you. Maybe he knew what was happening to you.” She watched Tanith closely. “Have strange things been happening around you?”

Tanith nodded slowly. “Yeah.”

“Such as?”

“It’s like . . .” She brought her hands together into a fist and rested them against her chin. “Sometimes I’ll be looking for something and I can’t find it, and it’ll just show up. Usually a top or bra or something like that.”

Kerry chuckled. “I had that happened a couple of times; I’d look for a book and it’d be sitting on my desk.” He looked at Annie. “I didn’t talk about it until after I’d started school and begun using magic.”

“It didn’t matter by that time.” She turned away from Kerry and back to Tanith. “That’s fairly common: it’s called Involuntary Translocation. You’re basically calling something to you, but you have no real skill in crafting the spell, so it just pops in somewhere close. I had the same thing happen to me when I started becoming Aware, but I was like five at the time.”

Five?”

“My mother and father are witches, as are my grandparents.” Annie tried not to sound like she was bragging, but she couldn’t help being proud of her lineage. “We’ve had witches in our family lines going back seven generations.”

“Oh.” Tanith glanced at Kerry. “You, too?”

“No. I come from what you call a Normal background—that’s with a capital ‘N’.” He scratched himself as he smiled. “There was a witch in my family about five generations back, but I’m the first one since then.” He motioned towards Tanith. “You’re more like . . . Nadya: you’re a Legacy.”

 

For the first time we hear that Kerry noticed some strange things happening to him as well, but he’d started doing magic before he ever had a chance to talk about it–or did he?  After all, he spoke to Annie in his dreams, and after she told him she was a witch, you’d think he’d say something like, “You know, there’s some strange stuff happening to me . . .”  But did he?  Hum . . . maybe I know if he did, maybe I don’t.  I’m not saying–least not yet.

But all this talk of Normals and Legacies and levelmates, it brings out things that one shouldn’t be showing . . .

 

Annie shot Kerry a quick glance. “That’s someone who comes from witches—”

Kerry laid his hand against Annie’s arm. “Of which she’s the only one in our level. The rest of the witches are like me.”

“No, they’re not.” Annie reached around and took his hand. “None of them are like you . . .”

They stared at each other for a few seconds and only broke eye contact when Tanith cleared her throat. “Um, are you two like together, or something?”

“Or something.” Kerry dropped his hand from Annie’s arm.

“Um, huh.” Tanith turned to the smiling girl standing next to the smiling boy. “You said I’m becoming like you?”

 

Damn, kids, keep it in the hotel room, will ya?  You’re gonna scare the proto-witch with the long, lingering looks if you keep that up.  I blame the hormones . . .

But what’s the point of coming out here to the park and going all invisible and stuff if you’re not going to do something.  Well, the something is about to go down.

 

“You guys did that floating . . . thing in the mall.” The look in Tanith’s eyes said it all. “Can you show me more?”

“That was the idea.” Annie glanced over to Kerry. “Ready to do what we were talking about?”

“Sure thing.” He went and stood next to Tanith and spoke to her in a low voice. “Watch this.”

Annie stood with here hands at her side and stared straight ahead, right through Tanith and Kerry. Her eyes shifted to Kerry for a moment as the crease of a smile radiated from her face. Centimeter by centimeter Annie rose off the ground, as if she were being lifted into the air by unseen cables. In twenty seconds she was three meters above the ground, floating without a hint of wavering or shaking.

Tanith’s eyes grew wide. “Wow. That’s incredible.”

“That’s Levitation.” Kerry crossed his arms an smiled up at Annie. “She’s really good at doing it to herself. I’m still learning to do it that way, but I can levitate other things—”

“You ready?” Annie folded her hands in front of herself as if she was still sanding on solid ground.

“Sure thing.” He leaned over and whispered to Tanith. “Don’t get too freaked out.”

“At?” Tanith began waving her arms about. “Whaaaa—”

He took her left hand and held on. “Relax: she knows what she’s doing.” He looked down and saw Tanith and he were already a good fifteen centimeters off the ground and rising slowly. They’d planed for Annie to do this to them both due to her skill. In about thirty seconds they were both almost eye level to her. “And here we are.”

“Who’s doing this?” Tanith looked around, her worry replaced with wonder.

“I am.” Annie still appeared as relax as if she were discussing the weather. “I levitated myself and then lifted you both.”

“Don’t you need like a wand, or something?” Tanith looked down and moved her feet back and forth.

“Naw, that’s just for fictional witches.” All three children dropped slowly towards the ground as Kerry explained magic to Tanith. “It’s all about visualizing the effect, then powering the spell, then crafting it all with your willpower. It’s the middle part that makes your aura glow—”

“Because you’re constantly drawing upon that mystical energy—” Annie set them down as gently as if they were stepping off a curb. “Even when you’re not casting.”

 

Now you know why the aura is always glowing with these witches:  mystical energy is in their bodies at all time.  We also see just how good Annie’s gotten since that first Wednesday in October, when she was on the verge of despair because she couldn’t levitate a small plush; now she’s levitating herself and her boyfriend and another girl.  And no wands!  That’s really gonna cut down on selling ideas if this story ever becomes a movie . . .

This means that there’s a question to ask Kerry–

 

“Cool.” Tanith poked Kerry. “And what can you do?”

“He’s good with transformation magic.” Annie’s eyes twinkled. “Aren’t you, dear?”

Tanith’s brow furrowed. “Dear?”

Kerry ignored her. “Let me show you what she means . . .” He lightly touched her hand, barely brushing his fingers across her skin. Seconds later Kerry’s hair changed, darkening and becoming as curly as Tanith’s. A moment after that his complexion darkened, becoming a perfect match to hers in under five seconds.

He bent his head to one side and held up his hands in mock jubilation. “Ta da.”

For the first time since they’d gotten together Tanith laughed. “Oh, cool. You could be my brother.”

“Maybe.” His hair changed back to the color Kerry was using and his complexion changed back to his original. “I’ve found I can do this pretty easily; it’s like all I have to do is be around a person, and I can do a small personal transformation.”

“You changed your hair and complexion—” Tanith scoffed. “That’s small?”

“We’ll be able to do full transformations into just about anything in a few years.” Annie patted Kerry on the arm. “Ready for the next?”

 

There’s been hinting that Kerry is extremely good with transformation magic, and the things they both did here in the scene will be mentioned later in the story, because these things Annie and Kerry did here, the things they’re good at–they’re really good at them.

And as Annie indicated, they’re not finished . . .

 

“What’s next?” The smile on Tanith’s face grew wider. “There’s more.”

Annie nodded. “A little sorcery this time—”

“Sorcery? Like black magic?”

“What you might call black magic, yes. It’s mostly magic that can be used against another person either offensively or defensively.” She held up her right hand, keeping it close to her side. In about five seconds a small ball began to form just above the palm of her hand. A few seconds later the bright blue ball was about fifteen centimeters across.

Tanith moved a little closer to examine Annie’s magic. “What’s that?”

“Cold fire. On the surface it’s room temperature—” She ran her fingers over the top, just inside the interface before she reached out and levitated a stick towards her. “But inside . . .” Annie grabbed the stick and thrust it into the center, where about five centimeters of the end burst into flame. “It’s as hot as any natural fire.”

Kerry nodded. “Or a lot hotter.”

Annie blew out the fire on the stick before dropping it to the ground. She flicked her hands to the side, vanquishing the cold fire. “If you know what you’re doing, you can incinerate a body in less than a minute.”

Tanith said nothing, just taking in the information. She looked at Kerry. “Can you do that?”

“I’m working on it, but . . .” He grinned as he raised his left hand. “I’m working on something else.” A bright pin-point of light appeared over Kerry’s upturned palm. It expanded to almost the same size as Annie’s cold fire, with a dull violet color instead of bright blue. “A different kind of ball.”

“Is that—” Tanith leaned closer to it to hear the faint crackle and feel the charge running near her skin. “That’s electricity?”

“Ball lightening.” He flexed his hand and the ball vanished. “Same thing, though, more or less. I’ve been working on that for a few months.”

“He’s become good with the spell, too.” Annie took Kerry’s arm; at this point she didn’t care of Tanith saw them acting this way or not. “Though he’s convinced he can do better.”

Kerry shrugged. “That’s just me.”

“I know.”

Tanith ignored the touchy-feely stuff going on between these two: whatever story they were trying to pull off, “Nadya” and “Gavin” were far more than friends, and it showed before this moment. “Would I be able to learn that if I, you know, went to your school?”

 

And there’s that “touchy-feely” stuff going on again.  Annie doesn’t care:  she can only stay away from her “brother” for so long before she’s gonna hold hands or something.  Since Ms. New Witch noticed this already, no need to hide any more, right?

With the magic show over, it’s time to state why they’re really here . . .

 

Annie shook her head. “We’re more than that. We wanted to tell you that you’re becoming like us—”

Kerry placed his hands in the pockets of his jacket. “Show you that magic exists—”

“And let you know you, too, can learn.” Annie linked her arm through Kerry’s. “We were sent here to bring you in.”

Now Tanith was back to being confused. “Bring me in?”

“Yes. The idea now is to take you somewhere and have you meet with the rest of our group, then visit your father, speak with him, and . . .” Annie glanced at Kerry, who was looking back at Annie. “Convince him that it’s best you embrace your new life.” She smiled softly. “It’s time to bring you home, Tanith.”

 

“It’s time to bring you home . . .”  Salem as home is a point that’s going to pop up time and again in the story of Annie and Kerr, because The Foundation–and Salem in particular–is becoming their home.  The dream space was their first home, and now the school is becoming their next home.  What homes will they have after that?  Stay tuned.

I also did something here I’ve not really done before:  I wrote a small snippet that was so nice that I moved it ahead to another scene.

It's just a few words, but it's a break from habit.

It’s just a few words, but it’s a break from habit.

But the last seen is done.  Now on to the next–

And something else I have to do.

A Walk in the Park: Taking a Stroll

I was hoping to have another full scene written today, hoping to have another twelve or fifteen hundred words in the bank to show, but . . . there are good days, and there are bad days, and yesterday was one of the really horrible days.  It actually started when I was putting together yesterday’s blog post, and didn’t actually end until–well, about the time I went to bed, after I went out to get something to eat and had a couple of good meltdowns, and finally just kicked back in my chair to finish King of Kings, or as critics called it when it came out in 1961, “I Was a Teenage Jesus.”

This means I only managed about eight hundred words, which is below what I’ve normally written at this time.  On the other hand, my work day ends around two or three today, and I’m starting on a four-day weekend, so there’s a good likely hood I may finish this chapter and the next before Monday rolls in next week.  We’ll see.

Where are they now?  We left them in the mall, but we know that’s not where they want to do their thing.  For that, we have to head across the street . . .

 

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

Washington Square Park was pretty much deserted, even at this point close to noon on a Saturday. With the Crown Center to the south, the Amtrak station to the west, and the much large Penn Valley Park to the southwest, there was little need for most people to gather here—

The park was accessible from the Crown Center by an enclosed overhead walkway, which meant Annie and Kerry were able to reach the park about five minutes after leaving her spot on the first floor, and they were able to find a secluded spot a few minutes after that, for the location was full of trees, making it easier to speak without being overheard—which is what they desired.

Annie and Kerry hadn’t seen Erywin follow them to the park, but they knew she’d been close behind them as they crossed Pershing Road, and that she was somewhere nearby monitoring them indirectly. They didn’t tell Tanith they were being watched: as they’d worked out last night, and in the days leading up to this moment, it was thought best that she not see the adults, only the witches her age.

They found a large tree in the middle of the park and decided this spot would be as good a spot to talk as any. Kerry looked around as her removed his backpack and retrieved the tablet. Annie unzipped her jacket and removed her phone; she punched up an app and set it back into her jacket. She turned to Kerry, who was scanning the area. “See anyone?”

“No.” He sipped the tablet back into the pack and set the later against the tree. “We’re running silent?”

“Yes. Now we need to go one better—”

“Right.” Both put their arms to the side and crafted the spell that would allow them to demonstrate their powers without being seen. The saw the slight ripple effect around them move out and join until it vanished about three meters on either side of them. “I think we’re done.”

“We are.”

 

Competent witches, these kids are.  They got this deal locked down and they know how to set up.  By the way, if you want to check out the action:

Here they are, from the air, with the Center at the bottom.

Here they are, from the air, with the Center at the bottom.

And they're somewhere inside there . . .

And they’re somewhere inside there . . .

Just to the right of that tree--no, the other tree.

Just to the right of that tree–no, the other tree.

And there’s a reason you can’t see these kids . . .

 

Tanith was still a little confused by what she’d seen in the mall, and now things were apparently happening around her of which she was unaware. “What did-did you do? What happened?”

Annie checked the bud in here left ear, which she needed to keep in place should Erywin want to contact them. “I set up a field around us that will prevent sound from traveling far, or allow us to be recorded from more than a couple of meters away.”

Kerry unzipped his own jacket. “And we put up a light bending spell so that no one can see us.”

Tanith did a double take. “What do you mean, no one can see us?”

“We’re invisible.” Annie stood next to Tanith and lightly touched her arm. “It’s okay: we do this a lot.”

“Yeah.” Kerry stood just behind Annie. “We did that all day yesterday at your school.”

You were at my school?”

“All day.”

Annie gave the girl a comforting smile. “I followed you into the bathroom just before your first class after lunch.”

The girl tried to remember the events of yesterday. “I don’t remember that.”

“You wouldn’t; I wasn’t quite invisible, but I wasn’t making myself noticed.” She grinned. “We followed you on the bus as well, and into the mall.”

“That’s where we got the recording of your aura—and we saw you with Ruth.” Kerry neglected to mention the brightness of that aura: they’d decided to keep that information to themselves for now. “Where do you know her from?”

 

Pick up the kid, do a little magic in front of her, throw up a little invisibility shielding, and then tell her you were stalking her at school.  Yep, that’s the way you do it.  And make sure you sound normal as hell when you’re saying this stuff.  It also makes you wonder how Annie approached her in the bathroom.  Can she turn on her light bending spell just enough that you might think you’d see her, but you’re not sure if you saw someone or not?  Like walking past a ghost?

And the last part of this?

 

“Looked it up.” Annie decided not to talk of that matter further: they had other business. “We need to talk about you, Tanith—”

“First tell me who you are.” She looked them and crossed her arms. “I still don’t know your names.”

Annie stepped back so she was alongside Kerry. “I’m Nadya, and this is Gavin.” As much as they disliked their code names, Helena instructed them to keep up the charade when they were in public. “We attend a special school here in the United States—one that you won’t find on the Internet—”

“Or on Google Maps, either.” Kerry chuckled. “Trust me; I found that out before getting there.”

Tanith didn’t know what to ask, so she went with the most obvious question. “What do you study?”

Annie got right to the point. “We study magic; we’re witches.”

Kerry threw in one last point. “Just like you dad.”

 

And that’s how they left it off:  gave their fake names, then laid the “W” Word on her, and Kerry ended it with there, “Oh, and your dad’s like us” line.  The important stuff is coming, and now I want to finish this scene this afternoon, and then get into the next one, because the scene after that–I’ll have all day Christmas to write it, and like I said, I could finish this chapter before the end of the weekend.

Gotta do something to keep the depression away.

The Future in the Mall

And now we start the dance . . .

This is an important chapter, only in that it’s the heart of the operation I’ve been building up to for the last thirty-five thousand or so words.

See the numbers under "Total Word Count"?  Scrivener and I keep track.

See the numbers under “Total Word Count”? Scrivener and I keep track.

Which means about half of everything I’ve written so far for Act Three (which is now just over sixty-five thousand words) has led to this moment–or should I say, series of moments.  Can’t say how much is gonna get written in the next three scenes, but this chapter will probably take the act over seventy thousand words, and I’m more than certain I’ll end this act somewhere between ninety and one hundred thousand words.  Not quite the length of the other two acts, but you’re still getting a novel out of just this part.

What is happening?  Kids Hanging at the Mall, that’s what.  Only a couple of the kids are there not to window shop, but to keep an eye out for someone important . . .

 

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

Kerry stood to the left side of the main mall entrance watching his tablet display carefully. If he read everything correctly, Tanith was off the bus and walking towards the main entrance—she couldn’t be more than fifteen meters away, and closing. He pressed the bud tightly into his right ear and send out his thought to Annie and Erywin. She’s right outside the entrance; should be here in a few seconds.

He heard Annie’s voice in his head. I see her— Kerry looked up and saw Tanith about to step inside. I’m ready.

Same here. He waited for Tanith to walk by before sliding tablet into his backpack and slinging it over his shoulder. He stayed about four meters behind her, keeping his eyes straight and locked on the back of the girl’s head. He knew Annie was waiting not far from where they ate yesterday, and she’d wait until Tanith was sitting before she’d approach. For now, it was Kerry’s job to watch and keep his distance . . .

Not that there was a chance he’d lose her. Nothing was open yet: most of the stores would open at eleven, but a few of the food places would open in about five minutes. Kerry had confirmed those times last night with everyone before Annie sent off the message to Tanish asking her to meet “Ruth” for an early lunch and some shopping. It was agreed that it was a good idea to get her there early so she’d have to wait, making it easier for Annie to approach and start a conversation, and that was the plan they were following this morning.

 

It’s on, as they say.  Tanith is there and the game’s afoot.  Erywin’s also in the mall, but she’d a floor above and using magic to look through the floor at the action below, and waiting for them to come up to the second floor so they can take the walkway across the street to the park where they’ll give Tanith a little demonstration of their powers.  For all intents and purposes the kids are on their own.  All they have to do, as Kerry thinks at one point, is to get to talk to them.

And that’s where Annie swings into action . . .

"X" marks the spot of the action.

“X” marks the spot of the action.

 

He caught Annie looking in his direction; he nodded, then looked towards Tanith. She nodded then stood. Slowly she walked up behind Tanith as Kerry left his spot and moved towards the two girls. He took a seat a couple of tables away as Annie reached their target . . .

“Excuse me.” Annie stepped around to face Tanith while holding up her phone. “Could you tell me the time: I’m not certain my mobile is working right.”

The young girl looked up at Annie with a puzzled look on her face. “What do you mean?”

“I mean, I’m not certain my time is right.” She nodded towards Tanith’s purse. “Could you check yours and tell me the time?”

Kerry saw Tanith nearly roll here eyes. “Your phone’s picking up the signal from the tower; there’s no way you can set it.”

That was Kerry’s cue to step in. “That’s not really true—” He stood alongside Annie but spoke to Tanith. “Maybe the SIM card is locked on the last time zone it was in.” He’d come up with this bit of technobabble because he figured Tanith wouldn’t know enough to realize if he was BSing her or not. He turned to Annie. “Where did you come from?”

“Boston.”

“Well, that could be it . . .” He turned back to Tanith as he sat in the chair across the aisle from here table. “Could you check your phone?” He set his backpack on the floor next to him.

The girl did roll her eyes this time, but reached into her purse to check here display. “It’s ten-thirty.” She held the display out for Annie to examine. “See?”

“Yes, I do.” Annie checked her own display, then pretended to touch the screen. “Thank you.” She turned to Kerry. “And thank you, too.”

Kerry nodded. “No problem.”

Annie didn’t leave, though. She stood staring at Tanith as if she were seeing her for the first time. “You have a lovely aura.”

Tanith looked like she’d been told there was something hanging out of her nose. “What?”

 

And that’s how you start a conversation:  “My phone is jacked, do you have the time?”  Then someone comes over, talks crap, you get the time, and then–“You have a lovely aura.”  And, of course, the person you’re telling this to is going to be very receptive . . .

 

“You have a lovely aura. It’s becoming brilliant . . .” She lowered her voice as if she were telling a secret. “But you feel that, don’t you?”

Tanith sat back and crossed her arms. “You crazy or somethin’?” She shook her head and looked around Annie. “I’m waitin’ on someone, so if you—”

Kerry cut in on the conversation. “We’ve seen it. We saw it yesterday.” He reached inside his backpack and removed his tablet. “We got it right here.”

Tanith scrunched her brow as she turned to Kerry. “You were doing what?”

He ignored her and addressed Annie instead. “You want to show her?”

Annie didn’t take her eyes off Tanith. “Is it clear?”

Kerry looked about one last time, making sure they weren’t being observed. “Yeah, it is.” He levitated the tablet about five centimeters above his right hand. “Like right now.”

Annie nodded and held her left hand close to her body. The tablet quickly floated from Kerry’s hand to hers; the moment she had it she punched up a picture and turned the display so Tanith could see the image there. “This was you, yesterday. That’s your aura. It’s changing: it’s become like ours.” Annie motioned towards the chair on the other side of the table. “May I sit?” She didn’t wait for a yes or no: she pulled the chair out, sat, and set the tablet upon the table. “Thank you.”

 

That’s Annie for you:  she wants to sit, she sits.  And a little “Float the tablet from one person to another” stuff always works wonders, too–you just have to be certain that no one is watching.  Which is why Kerry was looking around first before kicking that off.  He’s even ready to step in and help explain their actions–

 

Tanith started at this strange girl who had just sat across from her. “Who are you?” She looked down at the tablet. “How did you do that?”

Kerry leaned towards the confused girl and remembered back to his first night at Salem. “It’s a kinda magic.” He smiled and winked at her as Coraline had done with him.

“Yes.” It was time to make their pitch, and Annie knew if they couldn’t pull this off in the next five minutes or less, they’d lose Tanith. “It’s just a small example of what we can do.”

“We?” She turned to Kerry. “You did that, too?”

“Just a little.” He nodded towards Annie. “She did the heavy lifting.”

Tanith chewed on her lower lip for a few seconds before speaking to Annie. “What do you want?”

Annie folded her hands over the tablet. “To show you something.”

“Whaddaya want to show me?”

There was a quick glance towards Kerry, then Annie was completely focused on the emerging witch across from her. “Your future . . .”

 

Do you think Annie tried out cryptic lines on Kerry while they were sitting in bed last night listening to pop music?  That would be an interesting scene to write–assuming, of course, they weren’t talking about things like, “Um, you think we’re gonna have to kill anyone tomorrow, Sweetie?”  “Probably–”  (Gives him a kiss)  “See you in the morning!”  (Snuggle snuggle)  Naw, I think even Annie would be a little bothered by the idea she might have to take out a bad guy in the morning–

Just a little, though.

The next scene, though–it’s going to be interesting.

Knowing Unknowns

Chapter Thirty-Six is finished, almost reaching the same word count as the chapter before.  Which means the next chapter will likely be a little longer, and I’ll probably ride Chapter Thirty-Seven out until just past Christmas–and that means this current section, Part Twelve, will probably finish up right around the first of the year.  After this part’s out of the way, there are only five chapters remaining until the end.

It’s almost there:  it’s almost the end.

It's almost there; it's almost finished.

It’s almost there; it’s almost finished.

Only we gotta get out of Kansas City first . . .

So . . . the question was asked:  who is this new girl?  I asked it, and you can bet other people in the story asked it as well.  Don’t believe me?  Take a look–

 

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

“How is it that the Guardians missed this?”

Helena was asking herself the same thing. It didn’t worry her, but she was slightly bothered that what they’d discovered hadn’t appeared in any of the documentation she’d examined while preparing for this operation. “I have no idea, Erywin.” They were back in th instructor’s suite at the hotel after a quiet, hurried dinner, and Helena wasn’t concerned that they were going to be overheard using their own names. “You read the same reports I read. There was nothing there about this.”

Erywin hadn’t stopped pacing the suite since they’d returned. “Another Aware girl—speaking with Tanith. How long have the Guardians been monitoring her?”

“Months.” Helena turned to Kerry. “You’re certain that ID is correct.”

Kerry, who was sitting on the sofa with Annie, had the tablet next to him with the information still pulled up. “Ruth McRoberts. She’s in the school system and in the same grade as Tanith.” He sat back and tried to look confounded. “It’s legit.”

“I checked it as well, Helena.” Annie sat close to Kerry and nodded at him. “The software Isis gave us worked perfectly. I also looked up her address and found her home address and mobile number. It checks out with the number I pulled off Tanith’s phone when the picture they took together was sent to her.”

“But are we sure that’s not just a cover?” Erywin didn’t care for the feelings that sprang up inside her the moment they discovered that Tanith was being visited by another girl who was now only Aware, but whom appeared, based upon the brightness of her aura, had been that way for some time. “I mean, that has happened before.”

 

Erywin is alluding to something that’s about to break in a big way in this discussion, but Helena–trying not to be the paranoid sorceress and Guardian in the room–isn’t ready to go there.  She’s her own compelling counter-arguments.

 

“Honey . . .” Helena wasn’t ready to go where Erywin was already residing. “It is entirely possible the team that was here watching Tanith never encountered this—”

Kerry spoke up. “Ruth.”

“Yeah, her. That has happened before as well.” She pointed out the window to her left of where she sat. “There’s no coverage out there; The Foundation has no presence in this city. For all we know there are more than a few people out there who are ready to become Aware, or who may already be there.” Helena slapped the chair arms and sighed. “We only know about Tanith because she’s been observed.”

“Which goes back to my concerns about this Ruth.” Erywin finally sat on the edge of the bed and slipped off her shoes. “They’ve had Tanith under observation for a while, so why wouldn’t they have picked up any signs from her?”

“Maybe because they didn’t see them together.” Helena stood up, stripped off her jacket, and tossed it on the chair behind her. “Maybe they didn’t watch Tanith as often as they wanted us to believe. Or maybe the observation team consisted of arseholes who didn’t like coming to the middle of the US and did their job half-assed.” She turned to Erywin. “That’s been known to happen, too.”

 

Yeah, it’s always possible that the Guardians aren’t always the best of the best of the best, and they did a pretty crappy job keeping a twelve year old girl under observation.  However, that doesn’t address the two hundred kilo witch in the room . . .

 

“That’s bullshit, my darling.” Erywin was having none of these explanations. Having lived with Helena for thirty years, she knew her moods, she knew her body language, and she knew when she was trying to hide concerns from others—in this case, Erywin suspected she was trying to avoid bringing up a certain subject in front of the children. “You’re thinking the same thing that everyone else in this room is thinking about this girl.”

Helena turned on her partner with intensity. “And what is everyone else in this world thinking about this girl?”

“You know what I’m thinking—”

“Yes, I’ve figured that out.”

“Well—” She waved out an arm at the sofa where Annie and Kerry sat. “Why don’t you ask what’s on their mind?”

She almost told the children to go back to their room so she could discuss this matter with Erywin, but they were the most important part of the team, and they had a right to voice their opinions. She turned to the one closest to her. “Kerry, what are you thinking about this girl?”

He kept his eyes locked on Helena and didn’t once turn to Annie. “I wonder if she’s a Deconstructor.”

“Do you, now?” She knew he’d discuss this matter with Annie, so she wasn’t surprised by his answer. After all, of the two, Kerry had come the closest to having direct contact with them, and was probably leery of most contact.

He nodded. “Yes.”

She turned to Annie. “And you, Annie?”

Annie didn’t hesitate with her answer. “I agree with Kerry: I think she may be a Deconstructor.” She cast a sideways glance to the woman on her left. “And I agree with Erywin: I don’t see how the Guardians missed this girl.”

Helena sighed loud and long. “I agree. I’m wondering the same thing on both counts.”

 

There it is, out in the open:  the bad guys may be in town.  Perhaps they came for the ribs and stayed for the magical girl, or they just are here because they are.  Either way, things have possibly become a little dicey, and Erywin–who has found herself in this position a few times–what’s to know the story, morning glory.

 

Erywin crossed her legs. “So are you pulling your plug on this operation?”

There was a long pause while Helena turned and stared out the window. Based upon how she thought this conversation would go, she’d made up her mind considering the field op before they’d finished dinner. “No.” She turned to face Erywin. “I’m not.”

Erywin was off the bed in an instance. “And why the hell not?”

“Because everyone in the room thinking this Ruth girl may be a Deconstructor is not the same as her being one. And while I could shut this operation down this very second, doing so would leave Tanith in the lurch—”

“Not if you called in the Guardians and told them to take her under their wing.” Erywin wasn’t bothering keeping her feelings concealed. “You need to bring in a team that—”

“That knows what?” Helena waved her arm about the room. “This mission? The objective? We’re that fucking team, remember?” She calmed herself before she could explain more. “We know this girl, we know the local, and we now know there’s someone here who could be upsetting this equation. If this girl is a Deconstructor, she may know Tanith is on the cusp, and she should be preparing to force her into Awareness.”

Erywin calmed herself as well; it wasn’t good to be fighting in front of Annie and Kerry. “That would likely drive here insane.”

“It’s a possibility.” She turned to Annie. “You mentioned that Tanith and this girl talked about getting together for lunch tomorrow?”

“Yes.” Annie sat on the edge of the sofa and leaned forward. “They chatting about a lot of things, but they made plans to get together for lunch about thir—” She rolled her eyes. “About one in the afternoon.”

Helena nodded. “You said you have this Ruth’s number?”

“Yes.”

“I want you to use that number and send a message to Tanith telling her you can get to the mall earlier and you’ll meet for lunch around eleven.”

Annie had been shown how to do that, so she understood the how, but . . . “Why?”

“Because we’ve moving up the time table.” Helena turned to Erywin. “I want you and the kids to be at the mall first thing tomorrow. When Tanith comes in—” She swung around and faced Annie and Kerry. “I want you to do what you were planing to do later in the afternoon: make contact, convince her you want to show her something, then take here across the street to Washington Square Park and give her a demonstration.”

 

Like it or not, Helena is right:  they are the team for the job.  They’ve trained for a month, they know the area and the target, and if they bail there’s nothing that says the bad guys don’t swoop in and take this girl ahead of time and mess here up.  It’s not a good position to be in, and Helena will likely tell the people monitoring them of this twist, and that they may need to get out in a hurry.

In the meantime, however . . .

 

Helena knew, however, that this brought out another matter—and now that it was hanging in the air between Erywin and her, it needed addressing. “Honey, you brought a weapon, right?”

Erywin nodded. “As you instructed.”

“All right.” She glanced over to the sofa and slowly turned towards the children. Time to know our unknowns. “Kerry . . .” He turned his attention to the sorceress. “What can you do, sorcery-wise?” She glanced over at Annie, then back to him. “And I know Annie’s been showing you things, so don’t bullshit us. We need to know everything.”

He looked away from Helena’s glaze for just a second before returning it without hesitation. “The stuff we’ve picked up in class—”

“No: I need to know what you can do if your life—or Erywin’s life, or Annie’s life—depended upon your knowledge.”

“Right.” He glanced towards the window for a second, the came back to Helena. “Annie showed me how to do Shadow Ribbons. She also showed me how to put up a magical screen, and how to use dark energy with regular spells, and I’ve practiced doing that with our shields and with Air Hammer. And . . .” He slowly turned towards Annie.

She nodded towards Helena. “She wants to know: tell her.”

He stared off across the room, not looking at anyone. “Annie showed me how to do Electrify, both major and minor variants.” He looked up at Helena. “I don’t know how good it is, because I haven’t actually tried it on someone.”

“Understood.” Helena turned to Annie. “You know all the same, plus Exsanguination?”

Annie nodded. “And Cold Fire. I can do that, too.”

 

There you have it:  all the little things that Annie has been showing Kerry on the side.  See, this is what happens when you have a soul mate who can pretty much kill you with a look:  she starts showing you the same things she knows.  Just imagine if they do get married and they get into a fight . . .

That leaves on last thing that Helena needs to say.  And it’s not, “We’re having waffles for breakfast tomorrow”:

 

“Yeah, that might come in handy.” She stepped back to take in the room. Helena had hoped she wouldn’t have too make this speech, but given the unknown situation facing them, she felt it was necessary. “I’m saying this now because I don’t want to waste the time saying it tomorrow. What hasn’t been mentioned—but I’m certain Erywin has already considered—if that if Ruth is a Deconstructor, she’s not alone: she’s probably working with one, maybe two other people. Now they wouldn’t have seen us yesterday, because we masked our auras, but tomorrow, when you start showing her what you can do, it’s possible if they’re watching her they’ll see you. And then they’ll know for certain we’re on to them.

“The three of you, when you are on the op tomorrow, if things go sideways and you find yourself knee-deep in the shite, you have full authorization to do whatever is necessary to protect yourself and your team. And I mean anything—so if you find yourself facing down one of these bastards, don’t hold back: kill them.” She took a slow, deep breath. “Because they sure as hell aren’t going to hesitate to kill you . . .”

 

“So, kids, this is where your education in black magic has taken you:  be ready to off someone if becomes necessary, because if you don’t . . .”  You can imagine the kids might not have the easiest time sleeping tonight, wondering if they’re gonna have to fight for their lives and dust a few Deconstructors in the process.  And they won’t get any help from friendly spirits, or magic mirrors, or an army backing them up–

This is gonna be all on them if it it should turn bad.

No one ever said being a witch and a sorceress was gonna be easy.

Team Salem on the Job

First off, happy Winter Solstice to you all.  This is the shortest day of the year, and as I told some friends, it’s all uphill from here until June.  So while I would suggest going out and dancing naked around a tree, if you are of a mind, go out and do something to enjoy the day.  Me . . . I’ll probably stay home and write.

And speaking of writing, I finished up a scene I started last night.  I wanted to get that done before writing this post, and when I was done I checked my word count to see what I’d done this early, chilly morning, and discovered . . .

I don't read anything into this, but I do find it funny I've done this three or four other times.

I never read anything into this, but I do find it funny I’ve done this three or four other times.

So there:  finishing scenes and doing research–did I mention the research?

Yeah, that was last night, and one of the reasons I was a little choppy in my writing last night, because–well, you’ll see in a moment.

The actually moves over to the Crown Center mall now, but in order to get there, Annie has to do something she’s never done before . . .

 

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

Annie was glad to be out of the cold, but in doing so she’d stepped into a world that was far different from what she’d experienced before.

For one, she’d ridden a bus for the first time . . .

Their instructions had been to wait for school to get out, then follow Tanith to the Crown Center mall. Her normal routine was take the public buses to the Center, spend a few hours eating and working on homework if necessary, then taking the bus home. Since Tanith would ride the bus, they would have to ride the bus just so they could keep an eye on her.

Annie had never ridden in a bus in her life. She’d taken the subway in a few cities in here lifetime—she’d loved riding those in Paris and Hong Kong—but busses were something completely foreign to her. She had a pass and had been given instruction about how it was used. Still, it was a new Normal thing, and when it came to trying something new that everyone around was comfortable using . . .

There were no problems, however: Kerry went first, which allowed her to watch him closely. He entered and used his pass as if he’d done this forever, and Annie did exactly as Kerry. They took seats tow rows behind Tanith—Kerry let her sit by the window, which she enjoyed—and they were off to the Center.

They were fortunate that the bus route they were on, the 123, went directly from the school to the Crown Center. They didn’t say much during the trip, just kept their eyes on Tanith and tried to appear as if they fit in with the other riders.

 

Annie’s never ridden a bus.  She’s been on subways, and has probably taken cabs and hired cars–read that as limos–now and then, but this is her first time doing the public transportation thing.  It’s not a big deal for Kerry–he’s probably ridden a bus or two–but whole new thing for our Girl From Pamporovo.

And the bus thing is what held me up last night.  See, everyone thinks I’ve got all my research down pat, but not always.  I’d intended for them to take the bus from Tanith’s school to the mall because that’s what she does, but what bus?  So I had to run out to the website that handles the Kansas City bus schedules, and hunt down the one they’d take from the school and that Tanith would take home.  And what I discovered is Route #123:

Get on this bus, kids.

Get on this bus, kids.

But in finding this route, I discovered that it doesn’t run on the weekends, which sort of threw a curve at my story, because something coming up real soon involves Tanith taking the bus to the mall on the weekends, and if the one that runs by her house doesn’t do the Saturday thing, well, then, I had to find a route–or routes–that did.

I know what some of you are saying:  “Just make it up, Cassie!”  And I could, save I’m dealing with the real world here, and sure as the sun comes up tomorrow–unless it goes supernova tonight, which it can’t, so I’m certain it’ll be up tomorrow–someone would read my made up stuff and go, “That’s not right; in Kansas City–”  Yeah, yeah, I know:  that route doesn’t exist.  I’ll probably get a few like that anyway, but who cares?  I’m in the ball park, and that counts more to me.

So they’re at the mall and things are getting set up . . .

 

Tanith made their operation easy by headed for the Z-teca Restaurant, which offered quick Mexican food, mostly burritos, but tacos and salads were also available. The nicest feature for the place was the majority of the seating was outside the store in the mall concourse. Neither of them wanted too eat much as they were going to dinner after Tanish was back home, so Kerry ordered a couple of tacos for himself, and a salad for Annie, while Annie found a seat where they could watch the concourse and their target.

The phone Annie carried was enchanted so that she could eavesdrop on a person from any distance as long as they were in light of sight. Helena had told them they didn’t expect Tanith to have much to say, but she might receive a call. Annie could also pick up any text message the girl received or sent, as the enchantment could protect on to Annie’s phone whatever Tanith saw on hers.

Kerry’s tablet would allow him to work on Tanith’s aura; he needed nearly twenty seconds with the individual in the tablet camera foci to get an interactive view of their aura. They couldn’t do it while they were invisible, and there were only a few times at school where they could have had a clear view of here as it was. This would be their first chance to get her in the clear, while they were visible, today.

 

Equipment is at the ready, the kids are all set to go.  What happens next?

 

He returned to their table about a minute after Tanith sat at her table and began picking at her quesadilla. “Here ya go, Sis.” He set the salad in front of Annie, giving a wink only she could see.

“Blagodarya vi, moya lyubov.” She figured no one in the mall would know she was saying “Thank you, my love” since she didn’t expect anyone else to understand Bulgarian. She slipped in an earbud as Kerry took his seat across from her so they could mentally speak in private. Did she check her phone when she was ordering?

He almost shook his head out of habit. No. She ordered her food and headed out here. I was right behind her the whole time. He nodded towards the girl sitting a few tables away. She’s checking it now.

Great. Annie held up her phone as if she were trying to get a signal and turned towards Tanith. She was half-turned towards her when Annie launched the enchantment and received a shiver in her right arm as way of letting her know it had taken. Done. Now we can catch her conversations.

Let’s just hope she says something interesting. He reached into his backpack—which he’d brought with him from Salem—and removed the tablet that had been on standby since they’d boarded the bus. No time like now to give her an aura check.

I agree.

 

So the spying begins.  All pretty simple at this point, but do they find anything?

 

Kerry lifted the tablet and pointed it at Annie. “Here, let me get your good side.” He positioned himself so that Tanith was behind Annie and he had a clear line of sight on her. He activated the enchantment and then pretended to so something else on the display. “Just a minute; the app is being difficult.”

“Okay.” Annie knew there wasn’t anything wrong with the app, and that Kerry was simply stalling so he could give the enchantment time to work.

A few seconds later he set the tablet on the table and removed the kickstand from his backpack. I should have done this . . . He attached it to the back of the tablet and kept it turned towards Tanith. He waved Annie over. “Here you go; take a look.”

Annie scooted around the table so she was on Kerry’s left. She scanned the display. “Looks good.” She offered another opinion to him silently. You’re going to scan her constantly?

I don’t see why not; this way we can get the best reading yet. He pointed at the display. Is that reading right, you think?

I think it’s reading perfectly. Tanith’s area, seen in real time, was a yellow wavering back and forth before Normal dullness and Awareness bright. She’s on the cusp; she’s becoming Aware.

 

There you have it:  All in All, Just Another Witch in the Mall–sorry, I had to do that.  Now that they’re watching her, time to get the other player in on the show . . .

 

Yeah, that’s what it looks like. Kerry tapped his right earbud twice to bring in the other two witches on watch. Yo, Mom.

Erwin’s thought came across loud and clear. Is that a proper way to address your loving mother, young man?

Sorry, I thought you were my real mom for a second. He flashed a smile at Annie then continued. We have a positive aura here.

You’re certain?

Annie chimed in. I’m looking at the display, too . . . Moma Phoebe. She grinned knowing how much Erywin hated her code name. Tanith is definitely on the cusp.

 

You gotta love the banter between everyone, and wonder if Erywin’s gonna get called “Phoebe” now and then back at the school.  Probably not, ’cause that would blow whatever cover they have going back at Salem and make other students wonder why they’re referring to the Magical Formula instructor by the name of a spacey blond from the show Friends.

Now they know this is happening, and everyone wants to talk . . .

 

Helena joined the conversation. How are you observing her?

I’ve got the tablet on a kickstand. Kerry touched the tablet and turned it slightly as another girl about Tanith’s age sat at her table. I’m doing a constant scan.

Annie removed her phone from her jacket. I’m monitoring her conversations, too. We should start getting something because someone just sat with her.

Who?

Girl about her age. She just sat and . . . Annie caught Kerry’s sharp intake of breath and turned to him. What is it?

He nodded at the display. Look.

Annie did and swallowed hard when she saw what he’d seen. Mom?

Helena’s tone of concern carried through her thoughts. What?

We have something here we weren’t expecting . . .

 

What?  Not expecting what?  Lizard people?  A transdimensional portal?  A thirty percent off sale at Forever 21?

You guys can make your own guesses . . . and I’m certain you will.

Champagne Dreams

Yes, the post is getting out a little late this morning, but only because I just finished writing fourteen hundred words to finish up a scene I started last night.  And seeing how I said yesterday that it’s one with Annie and Kerry, some of you are probably wondering about the title of the post.  Trust me, they’re not getting hammered on Korbel when they should be spying on Tanith.  The title refers to something else.  But of course it does.

We jump ahead a few hours and we’re outside Tanith’s school.  Someone else is there, too . . .

 

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

Kerry sat with his back against the tree truck, keeping it between him and the steady wind coming out of the north. He’d pulled up his hood and keep his hands in his pockets trying to remain comfortable, and found he was succeeding marvelously. Once more he was happy he’d packed the microfleece hoodie his grandparent gave him for Christmas, because not only was it warm, but it had enough internal pockets to hold some of the devices he was using for this operation.

He was sitting on the front lawn of Lincoln Preparatory Academy waiting for his partner in crime to join him outside. While he’d waited for a delivery from Erywin, Annie was busy following Tanith and waiting for the right moment to secure another tag on her so she’d be easier to track with his tablet. She’d said she’d likely have an easier time of placing a tag on her, and he didn’t disagree: after all, if Tanith noticed a boy following her—tagging her with an enchantment wasn’t something they could do while bending light around them, not yet—she’d probably think it a little strange.

So he went outside to wait for his phony mother while also waiting for his real girlfriend . . .

 

The thing that comes from this is there’s a lot of waiting going on.  That’s the spy business for you:  a day’s worth of boredom sometimes punctuated by a few seconds of terror.  But the terror part’s the one that everyone likes, right?  Well, only if you’re the reader . . .

And what about that real girlfriend?

 

“Miss me?”

He turned to his left and watched Annie fade into view as her light bending field merged with his. “I was counting the seconds.” He patted the ground to his left and waited for her to get comfortable. “You have any problem tagging her?”

“No.” Annie partially unzipped her jacket and removed the light scarf around her neck. “I followed her into the bathroom and put it on her there.”

“The girl’s bathroom.” He chuckled. “The one place I can’t go.”

“It’s not that great.” She stretched out her legs. “Most girl’s bathrooms aren’t nice.”

“It’s not much better with the boy’s bathrooms, trust me. The only nice one I’ve seen is back at our school.”

Annie nodded. “I agree.” She nodded at the bag on Kerry’s right. “Lunch?”

“Yeah.” He set it in his lap. “Mom brought it about ten minutes ago.” Kerry stayed with the code names and pronouns assigned as they’d been told. He reached in the bag and removed a wrapped sandwich. “Lean roast beef with lettuce and onion—and a touch of horseradish—on rye.” He handed it to Annie. “Oh—” He removed another item. “And a dill pickle. Just as you ordered.”

“Thank you.” She partially unwrapped the sandwich and breathed in the aroma. “Lovely. What did you get?”

“Turkey with lettuce and onion—and a touch of mayo—on sourdough.” He removed a smaller bag from the larger one. “With a side of potato chips.”

“Not regular chips?”

“I will admit they do chips up better in Cardiff than they do in the States, so I passed.” He pealed open the wrapping and took a quick bite of his lunch. “Not bad.”

“Mine’s good, too.” She removed her pickle from the plastic wrap it came in and nibbled. “Though the school makes them better.”

“They do have an advantage other places don’t.”

 

In case you were wondering, lunch is served right under that tree.

In case you were wondering, lunch is served right under that tree.

The one thing to take away is if your girlfriend likes onions, you better have them, too, otherwise you’re gonna smell it on her all day.  And Kerry loves that turkey, it seems.  So, once more, they are enjoying a nice lunch together on a chilly day, only this time they’re invisible under a tree in Kansas City instead of sitting out in the open on a bench in a park in Salem.  They love their lunches together, and the discussions that come with them . . .

And their discussion this time was a bit about romance.  Annie talks about the things she’s seen her parents do–little touches, kisses, terms of endearment–and she tells Kerry that romance in a relationship is important.  It’s also noted that Kerry’s seen none of that behavior in his parents, and why am I not surprised?  Annie attributes part of his wanting affection to having spent a little of his life growing up around her, and there is probably some truth in that:  he felt her love early on, and his soul cried out for whatever she radiated.  Annie comes right out and tells Kerry the truth:

 

Annie stopped him abruptly. “You’re not your parents; not in any way. You want affection—maybe that’s because you grew up, in a way, around me and you felt what I felt.” She lay her head against his shoulder for a few seconds. “I couldn’t be with you if you were like your parents. It would kill me.”

“I know. I think that’s what the girl in my rune dream was telling me.” He rested his head against hers for a moment before sitting up straight. They both finished their lunches in silence after a few minutes.

 

Pretty harsh, soul mate, but a whole lot of truth there.  And as Kerry says, it’s what the girl in his dream was trying to tell him:  he couldn’t be cold to Annie, she would hate it, and he had to open his heart to her in order to make her happy.  Smart girl, whomever she was.

They discuss a bit of the dream from the night before, and it’s obvious that Kerry is done California Dreamin’.  They both come to the conclusion that it wasn’t so much the home that Kerry was attached to as it was the personal items he left behind.  There was love in the memories those things brought, and when he left them behind, he left behind those memories.  But the home–screw that.  He knows it wasn’t a home, not based upon the definition that Annie gave him.

And that’s when Annie begins the reminiscing . . .

 

Annie took Kerry’s hand in hers and held it tight. “About a month before my eighth birthday my mother and I went away to a house her parents own just outside Pocancy, France. That’s in the Champagne region—do you know it?”

“I know of it. It’s like north-east France, right?”

“Yes. Beautiful country: lots of low rolling hills and fields and wooded areas. My grandparents have had that house there since the 1950s, I believe.”

“Why did you go there?”

“My mother had spent the summer on a project and she wanted to get away and rest.” She cuddled up against Kerry. “We spent three weeks there, with my father popping in every so often when he wasn’t testing or racing.” She smiled as the memories came back to her. “Every other day my mother and I went bicycling.”

“You did?”

“Yes. We’d ride maybe ten, twelve kilometers, stay out all day. That was how I got to see so much of the surrounding area.”

Kerry squeezed Annie’s hand. “Sounds wonderful, Sweetie.”

“It was.” She paused just a moment before telling him the rest. “I’d love to live there one day.”

“Really?”

“Yes. I have it written in my wedding book. A little château, walled off, with a garden in the back where I can grow vegetables and herbs. Maybe a small house in the back where I can have a lab like my mother’s.”

Kerry turned to Annie, a huge smile upon his face. “You have it all thought out.”

“Yes, I do.”

 

Leave it to Annie:  she knows what she wants, and she writes it down so she doesn’t forget.  And once it’s down in her wedding book, well, hell, it may as well be set in stone.  And since this was right before she turned eight, she was already in love with her Ginger Hair Boy, so you can imagine she was probably imagining him as the Master of the House.

Maybe right close to where the grandparents live.

Maybe it’ll be right close to where the grandparents live.

She adds something else in, which Kerry catches right away:

 

“What about your lake house?”

“Oh, I’ll always have my lake house; it’s not going anywhere.” She turned and gazed into Kerry’s eyes. “That will always be there for me to us, and once we learn how to jaunt, it won’t matter where we live, we can go there for a night or a weekend and get away from everything, just rest and relax and . . .” She pressed her cheek into Kerry’s arm. “Do whatever we like.”

He didn’t need to have “whatever we like” spelled out for him; Kerry’s suspicion was that it had something to do with what they’d already seen in their wedding vision. “You just said something telling—”

“What’s that?”

“You said ‘we’. When ‘we’ learn to jaunt ‘we’ can go there no matter where ‘we’ live.”

She lowered her head slightly and looked up at him. “Does that bother you?”

He shook his head once. “No.”

“Good. Because given what we’ve seen—given the possibility that it’s going to be true—my lake house will be your lake house one day.” She gave him a quick kiss. “And my house, wherever I live, will be yours as well.”

“A little château in France?”

“That’s one possibility.”

 

What’s mine is yours, Kerry, and she isn’t hiding it.  She knows their future together is possible, and she’s going with that.  There’s also the “whatever we like” line which Kerry gloams upon right away.  It’s an unfortunate fact that they both saw something that should have remained imagined for some time, and that will have an effect on them as time moves forward.  Annie could be talking about getting the Monopoly game out and spending the evening trying to force Kerry into declaring bankruptcy, but I’m gonna say she’s got something else in mind.

Kerry’s imagining something as well–

 

Kerry slipped his hand out of Annie’s and wrapped his arm around her. “I’m thinking . . .”

“Yes?”

“One day I’d like to wake up early and get the bikes out, and ride into the nearest town. Find a small cafe and sit and have breakfast—”

“Alone?”

“No.” He pulled Annie against him. “I’d do this with the person I love.”

She chuckled. “Anyone I know?”

“You do: she’s right next to me.”

Annie closed her eyes so she could visualize Kerry’s words. “What happens after that?”

“Well, we spend a couple of hours eating and talking before getting on our bikes and heading off—maybe riding to the next town, or two towns over, or maybe even another beyond that. Then we buy some things for lunch—bread, meat, cheese—”

“And a little wine.”

“Have to do that if we’re in France . . . We take that and find a nice, shady place on the side of the road, and have a picnic. Eat, relax, enjoy the weather.”

“Sounds wonderful.”

“It would be. And when we’re done, we bike home, take a nap—’cause we’re gonna be tired—and then clean up and get ready for dinner. And if we are in France, and we can jaunt, there are so many places where we could dine.”

Annie saw all this in her mind’s eye: the riding, the picnic, resting at home, getting dressed and going out . . . “And is there anything after that?”

“Sure we go home, or . . . we go to our lake house where we rest, relax . . .” He kissed her on the cheek. “Do whatever we like.”

 

He’s going with the idea that perhaps their future together is in somewhere in Europe–maybe a walled château in France–and that they’ll have access to their lake house whenever they need to get away.  And Kerry’s words have an affect upon Annie–

 

Annie heart raced as Kerry’s ideas for their day together came together in her head and the images became real. She so wanted to speak his name right now, but knew she couldn’t, that even though the odds they were being watched were small, she didn’t want to go against the instructions that Helena gave them this morning.

She half-unzipped her jacket, then took his hand and held it against her chest. “Do you feel that?”

Kerry sighed. “Yeah, I do.”

She pressed their hands into her shirt. “That will happen one day. I promise.”

He said nothing for a few seconds. “No, you won’t.”

Annie turned her hand and gave him a shocked look. “What do you mean?”

“It’s not yours to promise.” He smiled. “It’s mine.” He quickly kissed her on the lips. “And one day that will happen. I promise.”

She had agreed last night they wouldn’t think about a future wedding, that they wouldn’t discuss the mater out of fear they would destroy the possibility of it occurring. But after hearing this, Annie could do nothing but hope and wish that their visions come true. “I’m going to hold you to that promise, my love.”

Kerry did his best to ignore his own racing heart, if only to keep the emotions running through is mind out of his voice. “I’d expect nothing less, Sweetie.”

 

Racing hearts and emotions.  I think the next novel will end up titled B for Because Hormones Are Out of Control, as that’s going to be a problem by next year.  Or will it?  Because there are probably more than a few magical ways to keep these kids from getting too carried away.

Then again, I know things about that story, and . . . I can’t say.  I’m a stinker, I know.  And until I write it down in a story anything I say makes me an unreliable narrator, because I don’t want to tell you too much of their future.

But we know now:  Annie wants a future in France.  And Kerry can see them sharing it.

Pretty nice deal coming out of a spy operation, wouldn’t you say?

I Spy From the Park Side

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

“You watched for twenty minutes?”

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

“Not normal?”

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

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

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

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

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

Erywin sat as well. “Or if he is.”

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

 

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

In the mean time:

 

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

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

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

“Yes: that doesn’t change.”

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

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

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

 

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

It’s not really operation related.

What a surprise, huh?