Back On the Blue: The Bum Rush

As with the day before, yesterday was tiring.  I spent most of it on the road to Indianapolis–two and a half hours there, the same back–so I could see my therapist.  She was happy to see me, was ecstatic about the news of what’s happening in my life, and said she wants to see me in a year when everything is finished.

She also said she doesn’t want to hear from me for the next year, either, because that would mean there’s something wrong with me, and she doesn’t want there to be something wrong with me.  Neither do I, to be honest, so I’m gonna run the straight and narrow for a while.

Anyway . . . I did write last night.  Seven hundred words of writing.  And while I didn’t finish the scene or clear ninety thousand words, I’m close on both and will do those today.  In the meantime, I’ll leave you with this:  the last segment of the scene, and what happens when three POed racers gang up on their fellow teammates who are being douches.

 

(All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015 by Cassidy Frazee)

The trio launched off towards the two older boys from their team. Kerry watched Darius and Manco panic as they realized their predicament: together they could block one of the girls, and likely both, but with Kerry helping out it was impossible for them to cover all three team members simultaneously . . .

Penny flew up hard on the inside of Gloucester Bend and refused to slow as Darius began a slow slide to his left. Alex squeezed between Manco and the outer safety enchantment, while Kerry went right up the middle. He caught the quick nod to her right from Penny as he gained about a half-a-PAV advantage on the boys and figured out what she was about to do. As she slid to her right Kerry jerked his speeder to the left, and the combined action was enough to force Darius to back off about three PAV lengths. Hoping that Alex had seen his move, he jerked his PAV to the right towards Manco: Alex had seen his move, and cut right for the front of the Peruvian boy’s speeder—and like Darius, Manco cut his speed enough to prevent a crash.

Now that they were clear of their team mates Penny jabbed her finger down the course. “No more wasting time: let’s race.” She leaned down between her handlebars and shot down the Green Line.

Kerry willed himself to speed up, and he was pushed back into the saddle back as he accelerated at a tremendous rate. He concentrated on catching Penny, who was already on the northward segment of Gloucester Bend. He checked his rear view; Alex was there, maybe three lengths back. She stuck with him as he hurried through Diamond Chicane, but he didn’t worry about her: his focus was on Penny, maybe a dozen speeder lengths ahead.

He concentrated on his entry into the Green-Blue crossover. As he reached the start-finish line the green lights flashed three times: he was on the final lap. If I’m going to do something, I have to do it now . . . Kerry entered the altitude gate and bore to the left, joining the Blue Line for the last time as he entered Woodland Path.

Woodland was a fast stretch, bending almost ninety degrees to the left before slowly straightening for a flat-out run across Selena’s Meadow. It was the only section at ground level that wasn’t surrounded by trees, and one area that afforded plenty of passing room. It was also one of the most dangerous spots, too, because fliers needed to shed all their sped in order to make Meadow Clime, a quick left-right turn that moved the course fifty meters above the school grounds.

Kerry passed the gate leading to the climb and pulled back and up on the handlebars. The speeder responded, and he pushed the PAV ahead as he shot over the trees and into the sky. He always felt a slight twinge here, for this was the same place almost a year ago that, on the Day of the Dead attacks, he flew in from the north and dropped straight down to the Meadow, all while he had a monster on his tail. This time it wasn’t a monster: it was Alex, who was only about five meters behind him as he headed down Pentagram Pass. At this point they were a few meters above the pointed roofs of Blodeuwedd and Mórrígan Coven Towers. Penny was even with Orchestra Hall and diving towards Trench, and Kerry understood his battle wouldn’t be with her, but with the Ukrainian girl pushing hard behind him.

He would have to push himself that much harder to be better.

The Trench was next, and Kerry’s stomach clutched as he flew back into the trees once more. This section of the Blue Line was narrow but there was enough room to stack fliers above and below, and it wasn’t unusual to see three levels of fliers zooming down this corridor to the moment of openness at Quarry Turn before hanging a hard left back into the forest. Another short, fast S-turn, and then Kerry was out of the woods and sailing past the Observatory—

 

And so you can follow the Blue Line:

Woodland Path after crossover from Green Line.

Woodland Path after crossover from Green Line.

Meadow Climb:

Minus monsters.

Minus monsters.

Pentagram Pass:

One of the ways Kerry can look down on Emma's coven.

One of the ways Kerry can look down on Emma’s coven.

And right at the end, The Trench, Quarry Turn, and Observatory Bend.

With Kerry getting ready to make that hard turn with a Ukrainian hot on his rear.

With Kerry getting ready to make that hard turn with a Ukrainian hot on his rear.

Back On the Blue: The Plan

The next few days are gonna be busy for me.  Today I start working on the forms for my name change, and I’ll have dinner with a friend.  Tomorrow I visit my therapist for probably the last time, just to show her how I’m doing.  And Friday I start preparing for the trip back to The Burg, and maybe drop off my papers with the Clerk of the Court to get my name change process rolling.

Oh, and probably wash panties, ’cause clean panties are a must.

And writing, too.  Since putting up a post a while back saying I was a bit burned out on writing, I’ve been hitting it hard, and yesterday was another twelve hundred fifty word day, with four hundred thirty-four written in the morning and eight hundred and ten written before going to bed.  I’ve inched up over eighty-nine thousand words, and it’s highly possible that I’ll hit ninety thousand tonight or tomorrow.  No matter what, I’ll be there before heading back to the other casa on Saturday.

The lights turned green and the race is underway, but not all is rainbows and unicorns with Team Cernunnos–

 

(All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015 by Cassidy Frazee)

Almost fifteen minutes into the race, half way through the fifth lap—the third on the Green Line—and Kerry wasn’t in a good mood. It wasn’t due to running a bad race: it was due to having a couple of teammates who, in his opinion, were acting like enormous douche rockets.

The first lap went without incidence. When they crossed over to the Blue line it was with a Ceridwen flier in first, Manco in second, and Darius in third, while Penny, Alex, and Kerry held and and traded off sixth, seventh, and eighth with the remaining four positions firming in Ceridwen’s possession. Through this lap and the next on the Green Line, Penny, Alex, and Kerry began pushing their way forward, so by the time they began the fourth lap—the second on the Blue Line—they’d moved into forth, fifth, and six positions, and were rapidly gaining on Manco and Darius, who’d managed to pull far ahead while the girls and Kerry fought through Ceridwen fliers surrounding them.

That’s when the trouble began.

By the time they’d rounded Observatory Bend and turned onto Skyway, the trio had second and third place in their sights. Being the quickest of the trio, Penny made her move on Darius as they flew through Back Path and began her pass, but he threw a block which nearly put in into the safety barrier. She attempted two more passes, and each time Darius—who didn’t appear nearly as fast as Penny—threw a vicious block, forcing her to fall back and regroup.

As they entered the Green Line for the last time it became obvious that Darius and Manco were doing everything they could to protect their podium positions, and they weren’t about to let their teammates by, even if one, two, or all were faster. Penny grew frustrated with the attitude, and in The Esses she tried her best to make her way around Manco, who then nearly wrecked her in Polar Jump, which made Alex and Kerry scramble to keep from running into Penny.

The problem wasn’t just in the front, either. Once Penny, Alex, and Kerry had made their way around the other Ceridwen fliers, they’d put them several seconds behind. That was no longer the case: those fliers were closing fast, and with a lap and a half remaining, Kerry figured that the guy’s efforts to keep their lower lever teammates away from what they saw as their podium wins could result in Cernunnos losing the podium and most other points positions.

 

In technical racing terms, what the boys are doing is known as “acting like dicks”.  They’re so hell-bent on getting a top three–here known as “getting a podium” because at the end of the race those in the top three stand on a podium and get recognized–they’ll blow everything, including the race itself.  Rather than looking at the big picture, they’re looking at fame and glory, both of which are fleeting.  I’ve seen this happen in races before, and it’s truly an embarrassment when someone not only crashes and burns their own race, but they bring their team down in the process.

In case you were wondering, in the Salem school system there are individual points, and those points accumulate into overall Coven points.  So a flier from, say, Ceridwen, can win a lot of races, but if two other fliers from, say, Cernunnos, keep getting the second and third place finishes, it’s likely you could have an Individual Champion from Ceridwen, while the Team Coven Champion would be Cernunnos.  Are you racing for the team, or for yourself?  Manco and Darius are definitely racing for themselves.

This is not sitting well with the new Cernunnos Troika:

 

Heading towards Northwest Passage Penny flipped up her visor and began yelling to Kerry and Alex. “These idjits are pissing me off. I’ve had enough of this shite.”

Kerry checked his review as they began the turn leading to West End and saw the full pack of Ceridwen fliers round Polar Turn and advance towards them. “We gotta do something, or we’re gonna get a real fight on the last lap.”

Penny nodded. “Then we gotta do something.”

They reached West End and began to accelerate. “There’s only one thing to do—”

“Yeah?”

“We gotta bum rush these guys.”

This brought a gleam into Penny’s eyes. “Out of Reservoir?”

He nodded. “That would be a good place.”

Alex—who’d pulled closer to Kerry so she could hear the conversation, yelled out her thoughts. “I don’t know this bum rush, but it sounds like we take action.”

Kerry glanced at her as the trio accelerated down West End. “We do.”

“Then I’ll work with you.”

“We work as a team.” Penny set back in her saddle. “When we come out of Reservoir, we move on those tossers. Alex, you take the outside; Kerry, you go up the middle. I’ll take the inside.”

He was already visualizing what would happen. “Got it.”

Alex nodded. “As do I.”

“Good.” Penny slapped down her visor. “We do it on my mark.” She leaned towards her handlebars. “Let’s make this happen.”

They flew together in formation the rest of the way down West End and into Sunset Boulevard, only breaking up as they zipped through Double Dip, reforming as they negotiated Double Back and Cove Lane. Kerry readied himself for Reservoir, a tricky turn that beginners found difficult to time, but which he found to be one of the more fun, semi-technical turns on the Green Line. It swept right out of Cove Lane, rising and dropping over the Cove Reservoir path before turning back to the left, once more flying up over the path before dropping down into the long, fast curve known as Gloucester Bend.

They completed the first flyover as Penny spoke. “We ready?”

Kerry nodded once. “Ready.”

They started up into the last flyover when Alex spoke. “Ready.”

“Okay, then . . .” They began their drop through the elevation gate towards the ground. “Let’s get ‘em. Go, GO.”

 

That’s where I left it, with Penny, Alex, and Kerry about to put the moves on the older boys and take this race to them.  Because sometimes you just gotta give someone the bumper and push them out of the way–or into a wall if there’s one nearby.

And so you can see where this stuff is happening, I even made pictures!  First, Observatory Bend and Skyway:

Squiggly line, remember?

Squiggly line, remember?

Then Back Path, where Penny was getting blocked.

Right there by the Aerodrome.

Right there by the Aerodrome.

Polar Jump, Northwest Passage, and the start of the West End, where everything started coming to a head.

Also known as the place where Emma Blocked Kerry.

Also known as the place where Emma Blocked Kerry.

And finally Reservoir, when they make their move.

Complete with little people standing under the course.

Complete with little people standing under the course.

Reservoir is also where, during the Day of the Dead, Emma and Kerry rejoined the Green Line on their way to The Diamond.  And we remember how well that turned out.

Let’s hope this time things are better for Kerry.

Ready on the Green: At the Post

It may be late, but it’s coming.  Wanna know why?  Well, you’re gonna!

See, I didn’t write yesterday.  Why?  I was on the road for almost six hours because I met with friends up in Rockford, IL, and in the best of times that’s a two-and-a-half hour drive for me.

Even Google Maps tell me so.

Even Google Maps tell me so.

Going up wasn’t that bad; traffic was pretty normal for the western burbs of Chicago.  Coming back, however, I had to deal with the end results of three accidents, and the last one forced me to make a quick detour off the interstate and down a highway which I know I’d traveled maybe thirty years before.  Needless to say, that and having to pick up dinner at the end of the day added more time than I’d anticipated for the trip home.

At least I was dressed comfortably.

At least I was dressed comfortably.

Even once home I had to make noted for my recap of Episode 3 of Humans, so by the time I was done with all that, I was tired and didn’t feel like writing.

So what did I do?  Wrote this morning.  Seven hundred and fourteen words worth of wrote.  Since you’ve been waiting, I’ll give it all.

 

(All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015 by Cassidy Frazee)

Kerry stood next to his hovering Class 2 as the large service lift rose from The Diamond’s lower lever hanger, lifting him and the team to the infield section of the ground floor of the track. He wore his helmet, though the front was raised so his face was visible, otherwise he was ready to race.

He looked up into the stands where nearly the entire school body sat among the cavernous structure. He understood how The Foundation built for the future, but it was strange to see a little more than one hundred people sitting in a space designed to hold fifty times that number. He also felt a little sadness because the space represented the potential the school had hoped to achieve by now, but could not.

The lift locked into place and the command was given to the flier to mount their PAVs. Kerry liked the Class 2s; they superficially resembled the Class 1s, but only because they had a long frame and a seat in front of the processor. There the similarities ended and the Class 2’s uniqueness took over. The processor was about twenty percent larger and more streamlined. The saddle had a small back to prevent the pilot from sliding off during periods of high acceleration. At the front were canards about fifteen centimeters below the frame, there to allow more maneuverability at high speed. And rather than control the PAV by applying pressure directly to the frame, there was a set of handlebars with grips that were used to control the PAV.

For the same reason a Class 1 was called a “broom”, the Class 2 was nicknamed “the Speeder Bike” due to its resemblance of the device from the Star Wars universe. As Kerry mounted his PAV, he chuckled as he pondered the irony that they, too, were about to go forth and race in the woods. At least no one will be shooting at me

 

So now when you think of Kerry and the others racing, you’ll have this image in mind–

Stormtroopers and explosive crashes into trees not included.

Stormtroopers and explosive crashes into trees not included.

–‘Cause that’s pretty close to a Class 2, save for the modified single-line Class 1 frame.  Seriously, I’ll have to get into Blender and start designing these suckers.

 

They were given the command to head out to the course, and Kerry followed the team, led by Manco, from the infield towards the oval track. There wouldn’t be a parade lap: they’d head directly to the course out Exit Three. As they reached the track surface he looked up and saw Annie waving to him; she’d picked a seat midway down the backstretch where she could view the holograms showing the race from the various Spy Eyes that would follow and record each heat. Jario sat to her left: he was waving to Penny, who was waving back.

Kerry knew they’d both watch the races in comfort: the seats were not like what one normally found at sporting events, but were large and comfortable, and had small tables to the side upon which one could place they snacks and drinks. The first time Kerry sat in one, he felt he was about to see a movie or play instead of a race over one of the school’s courses.

Penny slid in close to Kerry’s left as they passed through the tunnel exit. “You remember the crossover rules?”

“Yep. Green under to Blue; Blue over to Green.” He sat up and rolled his shoulders as they emerged into the light. “I won’t forget.”

“I know; I just wanted to make sure you remembered.”

“And remember to watch the transition from Blue to Green—” Alex pulled into position on his right. “Every thought the pop-over is supposed to act like a chicane to Green Line, it doesn’t make you slow much; you’ll carry a great speed from Diamond Lane to Rockport.”

“You’ll carry a hell of a lot more speed into Graves—” Penny checked her helmet, as if reassuring herself that it was in place. “The first time I raced Blue to Green I almost crashed there because I wasn’t paying attention.”

“From The Sweep to Graves it’s as long as West End through Sunset Boulevard, and just as fast.” Alex looked over and smiled. “Don’t worry: we are sure you’ll do well.”

“Thanks, guys.” He closed his eyes for just a moment as they approached the start-finish line. “I won’t let anyone down.”

“Run your race and everything will be fine.” Penny slapped down her face front and flipped up the visor. “See you at the end.”

 

The area Alex is describing is the following:

Just follow the squiggly yellow line.

Just follow the squiggly yellow line.

When they say “Pop-over,” Alex means the course rises up over the Green/Blue crossover so fliers never run into each other–which would probably see one of the racers die if that ever happened.  It’s meant to slow up the racers on their way to the Green Line, but once you know how to navigate that chicane properly, one figures out how to take it without losing much speed, which leads to one heading into the Graves turn a lot faster than the B Team racers gets when running juts the Green Line.

It’s almost time to get this party started.  The racers are just about ready–

Are you?

Paths of Pain and Glory

Hey, now, I’m coming to you from Indiana, back in the old Red State Homestead, and working on my post in the confines of my comfortable library.

This was moments after I started playing Steve Winwood's "Valery" last night before working on the novel.  The party had started--

This was moments after I started playing Steve Winwood’s “Valerie” last night before working on the novel. The party had started–

The drive home wasn’t that bad, at least until I hit Indiana, and then it was like one hundred and twenty miles of near heavy traffic the whole way, with idiot drivers and truckers who don’t mind blocking both lanes and slowing traffic the hell up.  If I’d had my War Wagon, I’d have left bodies in my wake.

Simpler times in eastern Ohio, before I know of the hell that awaited.

Simpler times in eastern Ohio, before I knew of the hell that awaited.

Believe it or not, I wrote last night.  I finished the current scene, and came near the totals I’ve done the last few nights.  It’s taken me four days to do this scene, but my numbers show my slow yet steady progress:

Words 07/07/2015: 435
Words 07/08/2015: 652
Words 07/09/2015: 670
Words 07/10/2015: 615

Of course, as soon as I saved this mess off, I crashed hard for the night.  I consider myself lucky to have finished the scene.

What is happening now that Penny wanted to speak with Kerry?  Well . . .

 

(All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015 by Cassidy Frazee)

Kerry glanced to Annie; she gave him a quick nod. He headed up the stairs with Annie beside him, feeling a tremendous amount of trepidation. I think I know what this is about— It didn’t take long to reach the top of the stairs where Penny was waiting. “What’s up?”

“Come on.” She turned and headed off, with Annie and Kerry behind her. She reached the hospital entrance and pushed open the door, holding it for her guest. “He’s here.”

Professor Semplen was standing in the waiting room when Annie and Kerry entered. “How are you, Kerry?”

“I’m—okay.” Seeing the professor only increased his hunch about the summoning.

Annie stepped inside and let the door swing shut behind her. “Hello, Professor.”

“Hello, Annie.” Holoč gave both students a faint smile before he turned to Kerry. “We need to speak.”

“That’s what Penny said.”

“Yes . . .” The professor turned to the girl on his left. “You want to tell them?”

“Sure, Professor.” She exhaled hard, looking tired. “The boys went out early for practice—”

Kerry looked slightly puzzled. “The boys?”

“Manco, Darius, and Hasan from the A Team. They were out running the Green and Blue Lines, trying to get in some practice time before breakfast. They were on the Blue Line and . . .” Penny shrugged. “About twenty minutes ago Hasan lost it going through Helter Skelter and crashed and burned.”

Annie didn’t seem surprised by this news. “Was he hurt bad?”

Holoč answered her question. “Broke his right leg; we were just back there speaking to him.” He touched the frames of his glasses as if he was unsure if he wanted to adjust them. “Coraline’s marked him as ineligible to race today.” He paused once more, this time setting is glasses back further on his nose. “I’m moving you up to the A Team today, Kerry. I need you to fill out Hasan’s slot.”

 

It should come as no surprised that this was the lead up to moving to the A Team.  But first, before we get to that–

I talk about Helter Skelter a lot.  As you are aware I’ve named spots on my various race courses just as, on real courses, drivers have names for various spots.  Helter Skelter is one of the most technical, and difficult, turns on the Blue Line, and made even trickier due to the changes in elevation.

See, that’s one of the things that come into play when you’re dealing in three dimensions.  The Green Line stays close to the ground, but the Blue Line starts getting people into the air, and up their the only thing to limit your speed is the need to hit certain elevation gates–otherwise, how do you know where the course is actually located?

Helter Skelter comes off of Skyway, which is sort of the West End of the Blue Line:  a long, slightly curving area where one can pour on the speed–and since Skyway is fifty meters, or one hundred and sixty-five feet, above the ground, that means you can get a lot of speed.

The fliers approach the first part of the turn on a slight left-hand turn, then begin to descend just a little before they switch back to the right.  And I do mean switch back:  the turn is about a one hundred and sixty degree turn–while descending.  The fliers keep losing altitude until they are right over the trees, and then make another switch back turn to the left while dropping into a space in the trees.  And just as soon as they’re close to the ground, they make a ninety degree turn to the right and shoot up out of the trees.

So when you get to the bottom you go back to the top of the slide, then you turn and you go for a ride . . . ergo, Helter Skelter.  Here’s what it looks like with the course highlighted for better viewing:

From up here, not so bad.

From up here, not so bad.

From here, however--

From here, however, not so easy.

And what students standing on the roof of the History Building see.

And what students standing on the roof of the History Building see.

Since Annie’s dad drives in Formula 1, he’d likely call this a chicane and refer to it as a “passing opportunity.”  The students are likely to refer to it as “terrifying”, and they know there’s little room for error in this section.  Yes, there are safety enchantments in place to keep students from crashing head-on into trees, but it’s still possible for a racer to screw up and hurt themselves bad.

And the Class 2 PAVs are a lot faster and far more nimble than the Class 1 brooms, which means an enterprising pilot can try and tempt fate by negotiating this portion of the course with higher speeds and snap turns.  Sometimes this results in gain positions; sometimes it results in broken bones.

Let’s move on–

Kerry’s worried:  not about moving up, but about pissing someone off–

 

This was what he’d half expected to hear, and the news came with some reservations. “Are you sure Madhushri or Victoria wouldn’t be better suited?” He wasn’t trying to talk himself out of the spot; he simply wanted to know for sure that moving up wasn’t going to cause trouble with others in the coven, particularly with his two B Team members who were also of higher levels.

“No, not at all.” Holoč shook his head. “Madhushri only agreed to be on the B Team to fill out the roster, and Victoria’s not nearly as good as you: in two races she’s only pointed once, and that was for sixth. In the same two races you’ve had one podium and missed another by a second . . .” He looked down for a moment, then raised his head nodding. “No, Kerry: I haven’t made any mistakes.”

 

When you have that kind of record it’s easy to see why you moved up.  Even if it is only two races.  Sometimes that’s all it takes.  There is a wrinkle, however:

 

Penny cleared her throat. “There is one thing . . .”

Kerry half-turned so he didn’t release Annie’s hands. “What?”

“You’re going to have to run your B Team races as well.”

Holoč nodded. “If you don’t run them, we’ll have to forfeit. You know the rules.”

“Yeah: you have to start with three racers.” He’d gone over the racing rules whenever possible, and it was necessary to begin a race with all your team members, or suffer a Coven Team penalty of fifteen seconds for every missing flier. While the A Team could usually make up that in the Coven Standings, the B Team, with only three members, couldn’t. And with this being the Samhain event, with each team doing three races, no one wants to suffer that sort of hit on their standings.

Annie was concerned with one thing. “Two races in the morning and three in the afternoon: that’s a lot to ask of Kerry.”

“I know it is, and I’m sorry, but I don’t want the B Team to lose position in the standings.” Holoč laid a hand on Kerry’s shoulder. “Here’s what we’ll do: the moment you’re finished with your last race, come to the team ready room in the Diamond. You remember where it’s located?”

“Yeah, I remember.” Each A Team had their own ready room so they could prep for races, and the B Team members were invited there the first day of team orientation. It reminded him a great deal of the ready room in the Flight School, save there were fewer chairs, and come of them were able to recline so pilots could relax between races, or lay still if they were waiting for medical attention. “We’re over by Exit Two.”

“That’s right. Come there and you can lay down on one of the recliners and take a nap. If you need help with that, I can ask Coraline to get something to you. When the team meets for lunch in the Dining Hall, you can either join us, or I’ll have lunch sent down.” Holoč turned to Annie, who was now looking less apprehensive. “It’s not usually allowed, but if Kerry decides to eat in the ready room, you can join him.”

“If he decides to do that—” Annie latched onto Kerry’s arm. “—I’d love to join him. Thank you, Professor.”

 

Holoč is gonna wear that boy out if he’s not careful, and he’s trying to minimize that effect–hence the “Come in and get a nap” thing before the afternoon festivities.  It’s a real calculated risk on the professor’s part, and he knows it–but he also knows that Kerry’s young, he’ll have plenty of energy reserves, and there’ll likely be a huge adrenaline outpouring once the green lights flash and the race is underway.  Which can be a plus or minus . . .

Only thing left to do is get breakfast, but after leaving the hospital Annie has something else in mind:

 

“I told you.” Upon reaching the ground floor she pulled him under the first floor overhang and eased him back into the shadowy landing leading to the lower levels. “I don’t want you to be nervous; you’re doing to do great.” Annie kissed him slowly, letting him fall into the comfort of her embrace. “Tonight, when we arrive at the dance, you’ll be the proudest boy there.”

“Why’s that?” He fell back against the wall happy and content. Though the news brought about a nervousness he’d knew would one day come, it vanished in the aftermath of his soul mate’s kiss. “Because of the races?”

“That and . . .” Annie giggled as she rested her head against his shoulder. “You’ll be with me, my love.”

“Oh, well—” He kissed her forehead and held her tight. “That always makes me proud.”

 

That Annie:  she’s so modest.  And Kerry knows it, too.  And loves her for it.  Then again, she’s his tasty little cabbage roll, so why wouldn’t he be proud to have her call him her soul mate?

The setup is complete.  All that remains is a little orientation before getting to the point of ladies and gentlemen starting their, um, engines?

For sure something will be revved up.