Well, I said I would finish a scene, and I did. Finish it, that is.
Figuratively speaking this is a quiet scene. Everything is subdued; everyone in the room about to put their asses on a difficult, high-speed track is feeling just a touch anxious, and the instructors know this. Vicky and Erywin and Holoč damn sure know this, because they’ve been on this course and have run this race, and they want to do their best to keep nerves to a minimum. So they do their best to keep up their student’s spirits–
All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015, 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)
After a slight pause Vicky exhaled softly. “I have nothing more to say—” She glanced to either side behind her, where the cover leaders were waiting. “I’m sure the people sitting here will probably want a few words with you in private before we head up to the Great Hall and you jaunt out to the start/finish.” She gripped the sides of the podium. “Good luck to you all, and I know you’ll perform admirably out there.” She took a step back and gave the assembled students a quick nod. “Okay, let’s get going.”
As the Cernunnos racers got to their feet, Professor Semplen approached and motioned for them to join him in one corner of the Ready Room. He kept his voice low as he spoke to his team. “First,
I’d like to say that, like Vicky, I believe you’ll perform your best today, and that each of you will run an amazing race. Second—” He reached out his arms as if he wanted to pull everyone into a group hug. “I’m proud of everyone. My wish is for each of you to finish in the points; if you did, it would be the first time in a long time that Cernunnos has fielded four members of their team, and even longer that all pointed. Even if that doesn’t happen, I’ll remain proud because of the effort you’ve all put forward to get here.” He lightly gripped Manco’s shoulder. “This should give you incentive to make next year’s race—and I’m certain you will.
“Well, then—” He nodded towards the exit. “I gather some of you want to get additional well-wishes before you leave, so head down to the hangar, say what is needed, and I’ll meet you in the Great Hall.” He shooed them away. “Get going.”
Holoč doesn’t seem to ever have much to say, and today is no different. He knows he had a good team this year, and for the first time in a long time their coven may have someone finish in the top three. When it comes to racing Cernunnos isn’t one of the big covens, and while they’ve usually won a few races in a season, it’s been a long time since they’ve done this well, as Holoč points out when speaking to the kids. He isn’t looking for a win here: he’d love it if the whole team points, because that’s over a third of the positions. The one thing he’s not pointing out is that there’s only one other coven fielding four racers, and that’s Åsgårdsreia, and the guessing is The Horned God team can score a butt load of points if they do things right.
Now, what about those additional well-wishes? Okay, they’re right down stairs:
Kerry followed the group down the spiral stairs to the hangar, with Manco, the team’s captain, in the lead, and Penny and Alex behind him. Most of the fliers were milling about, speaking with friends or significant others, and he saw the Penny and Alex head directly towards theirs for a few minutes together.
He headed directly for the open hangar door. Annie stood just inside, snug in her in her winter coat and boots. She pulled her gloved hands from her pockets and draped her arms over his shoulders as soon as they were face-to-face. “How are you feeling?”
He rested his forehead against hers. “Nervous.”
“That is to be expected.” She pulled him outside into the cold morning air before giving him a long, slow kiss. “I’m not worried: you’re going to do great.”
“I just want to finish the race and get points.” He finally pulled back from Annie’s head. “And do it without getting hurt.”
“Points you’ll get—” Annie arched an eyebrow. “Top ten is easy.”
“Not on this course.”
“You podiumed the Red Line; you can point Katahdin.”
“Yeah.” He didn’t want to get into a deep discussion about how well he’d do: Kerry was eager to get out to the course, get on his broom, and put the three hundred kilometers behind him. He left his helmet and gloves hovering at his side before sliding his arms around Annie, pulling her close, and returning the slow, wonderfully warm kiss she gave him only a minute before.
When they finished Annie stood looking as if she were light headed and about to pass out from the love pulsing through her. “Oh, Kerry. Neveroyatno moyata lyubov.” She rested her head against him for a few seconds to compose herself, then tapped him on the chest. “We better go.”
He slipped his comm helmet on. “Yep; it’s that time.” He secured his helmet, flipped up the face plate before retrieving his broom from Hammerspace, and mounted the Espinoza smooth and fast. “You ready?”
Annie skipped once to the back of the broom and climbed on behind her soul mate. “You’ll enjoy the company.”
“Oh, yes.” He pulled up on the broom’s shaft and they climbed slowly into the sky over Selena’s Meadow. “I always do.”
That Annie: well wishes consist of keeping Kerry’s lips warm against hers. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, and since he kissed her back he feels the same. And for the first time in a long while Annie’s riding somewhere on the back, probably because she wants him to feel her holding on. Annie’s the real Bulgarian Bon Bon: soft and sweet and . . . well, I don’t know if she melts in your mouth. And if I did I wouldn’t tell you.
So, the briefing is over.
Guess it’s time to get out on the track.