Yesterday was supposed to be easy. And it was. I put together two more playlists for YouTube, went to dinner, watched JFK last night, and–oh yeah. I wrote.
There you are, I’m already into Chapter Twenty-four and I started it off with just a little over twelve hundred words. Which means I’m one scene down with thirteen to go, with hope that I saw that number down by one today.
This last excerpt is from Chapter Twenty-two and it deals with the time after Annie’s first practice. I can tell you that once you’ve had your butt kicked by the first practice you can feel like you wanna walk away and keep walking, so it’s not unusual that my Bulgarian Princess isn’t at her best right now…
(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017, 2018 by Cassidy Frazee)
Annie walked out of the Dining Hall after practice, pulling her rolling gear bag behind her. Her hair was still somewhat matted from the helmet, though she’d teased it out a bit so it wouldn’t look like it was sticking to her head. Her leggings and tank top were soaked and starting to slowly dry in the warm air inside the Great Hall. She considered giving her left armpit a sniff but decided against the action: she was certain after a couple of hours of sweating she smelled quite ripe—
She stopped as Kerry stepped around the corner and leaned against the wall. A smiled brightened her dour demeanor. “My love.” She set her gear back next to her. “How long have you waited for me?”
“Maybe five minutes.” He shrugged appeared to think. “Which would be ten for you, I guess, given you were in a time expansion field.” He walked towards her and opened his arms—
Annie took a step back. “Please, don’t. I’m a sweaty mess. And I smell.”
“Like you never hugged me when I was the same way.” He gave her a hug and kiss before motioning towards the Rotunda. “Let’s sit for a bit.”
There he is, derby widow Kerry, ready and willing to hug his little cabbage roll even though she’s sweaty and probably smells, too. As he pointed out, she didn’t mind hugging him when he was the same way, so now that he has the chance why not return the favor? Keep the sweat in the family, I say.
They slowly made their way to the benches along the south wall of the Rotunda. Annie realized that the last time she sat here was during the Day of the Dead attacks, when she attempted to rest after showing the other girls a bit of sorcery. She sat, wincing as she did.
Kerry noticed his soul mate’s grimace. “Rough practice?”
She sat back and exhaled deeply. “We skated a lot of laps. Then we did twenty minutes of knee falls. Then twenty minutes of weaving between cones.” She rested her head against Kerry’s shoulder. “That was the first hour. I think we mostly did pace lines and stops the second.”
Kerry slipped his arm around Annie’s shoulder. “Sounds like a workout and a half.”
“It was intense. I heard a couple of girls say they might not come back on Thursday.” Annie closed her eyes. “I wish I could take a bath. Showers are nice, but the way I feel now, a nice long, hot bath would be wonderful.”
If Annie thought that was hard, wait until she starts doing crunches and planks.
“Well…” Kerry hugged Annie tight. “We could drop your gear off in the tower commons and then fly out to the Diamond. I could get us into the team clubhouse and you could use the baths in the girl’s locker room.”
“Let me think about that.” She smiled, her eyes still closed. “Angry said she’s going to speak to the headmistress tomorrow and see about getting a dozen baths installed in the lower levels so we can used them after practice and bouts.” Annie opened her eyes as she sighed. “I hope she says yes.”
“I don’t see why she wouldn’t.”
Annie gave a slight nod then sat up. “Can I ask a question?”
Kerry looked at her with a half-grin on his face. “Any time.”
“Why didn’t you ever talk about practice?”
For about five seconds Kerry looked straight ahead; when he finally spoke it was in a low, quiet tone. “When I first started racing practice I didn’t think it’d be a big deal. I mean, I’d flown fast, even did that on West End. I though it’d come easy.
“Then we had to practice getting our times down on the Green and Blue Lines and we needed to hit some of the turns faster and with more exactness—” He turned his head slowly towards Annie. “After hitting some of those turns as fast as you can over and over, taking all those gees, it felt like someone had hit you again and again with a cricket bat.
“I’d come back and just deal with the soreness because—” He lowered his gaze. “I figured you didn’t want to hear about how hard it was.”
Annie placed her hand on Kerry’s knee. “Were you afraid I was going to think you couldn’t take the strain?”
He nodded. “Something like that. You dad handled it: I guess I didn’t want you to think less of me.”
“My love—” She placed her hand under his chin lifted his head. “I had never compared you to my father, and I would never think less of you for that work.”
Kerry took her hand and smiled. “Also, I didn’t want to bore you. Nor did I want to sound like I was bragging.”
Though it rarely comes up, Kerry is aware that he’s sorta competing with another Kirilovi, though they left the school years before Kerry was even born. Doesn’t matter that Annie doesn’t care about what he father did when he was a student, even money Kerry sees reminders of her father’s accomplishments at least one a week, either on the Wall of Remembrance, or down at the Flight School, or even in The Diamond.
And like it or not, he feels he’s competing against him at times, even though he isn’t.
At least Annie doesn’t have to worry about being compared to anyone who’s come before her, as she’s on the ground floor for a new sport. One that she’s gonna have to tell her parents about–
But that can wait until she’s home for Yule. As for now–
Annie chuckled. “What have I ever done that would make you believe that?” She touched a finger to his lips. “Glupavata mi lyubov. You should know better.”
He chuckled as well. “I guess I should.”
“That’s said—” She drew in a breath. “Why do you want to know about my practice?”
“Because I want to know everything about you.” He slowly caressed her check. “There was never a time when I didn’t want know about you. And that includes your practice.”
Annie snuggled against him, forgetting all about being sore and sweaty. “I never thought I’d get involved in a sport at school. Neither racing or fighting interested me. And now—”
“And now you happen to be one of those bringing a sport here for the first time.” He rested his head against hers. “You’re going to do great.”
She looked up. “You think so?”
Because if there’s one thing I know about Annie Kirilova—” Kerry slowly lifted her way so he could looked directly at her. “—it’s that she doesn’t go into anything half-hearted. Anything you go into, you go into it with the intention of being the best. If you can’t be the best, you walk away.”
Annie stayed silent for almost ten seconds before kissing Kerry. “You know me too well, my love.”
He blushed. “I would hope I know my wife pretty well by now.”
She laughed. That’s the first time he’s called me his wife in a place where others could hear us. And he didn’t care… “I don’t know if I’ll be the best player. But I’ll certain do my best.”
“We’ll see.” Kerry stood and helped Annie get to her feet. “You wanna use one of the baths down at the clubhouse?”
“Maybe some other time. Right now—” She tilted her gear bag on to its wheels. “I want to get clean.”
“Got it.” They began walking towards the West Transept. “Can I ask another question?”
“You have a derby name yet?”
“Not yet.” Annie looked straight ahead so Kerry couldn’t see her lopsided grin. “But I’m working on that.”
There you have it: Annie’s on her way to being the best.
Of course, that doesn’t mean she won’t experience a few problems along the way…