At the Intersection of Tenderness and Concern

Here’s it is, early morning outside The Burg, and I just finished a scene and I’m hard at work getting this out.  I didn’t get a lot of writing done yesterday, because I spent five hours at the salon having my nails and brows done, and let me tell you, doing the whole manicure/pedicure/brow wax thing is a thing of beauty.  It leaves you feeling a lot better about yourself, though you’re usually ready for a nap once you get home.  Which I did.  Then I got up and turned on My Fair Lady and got about nine hundred words into the scene before I needed to crawl off to bed.

New brows; new nails; Sexy Rexy being a douche.  It's time to write witchy maheym.

New brows; new nails; Sexy Rexy being a douche to Eliza. It’s time to write witchy mayhem.

The focus of this scene turns not to Annie and Kerry, but to Helena and Erywin, who are off in their own room while the kids are camped out in theirs.  They have things to discuss, and not all of them are mission related.  In fact, there is going to be a “what the hell is that?” moment here early on in the scene, so be ready.

How does this start?  Like this:

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

Erywin watched as Helena emerged from the bathroom and made her way across the bedroom wearing the nightgown she’d given as a present this last Yule holiday. A lovely cream color, the gown dropped to her knees so she could move without hindrance, while the top was low cut front and back and held upon her shoulders with spaghetti straps. Erywin had picked out the gown because of the way it showed off the ta moko on Helena’s shoulders, upper arms, and back.

She’d always found Helena’s ta moko fascinating. She still remembered the first time she’d seen it: the night the bonfires were lit for Beltain. Though there had been plenty of opportunity through their first year together to run off and hide and “show themselves” to each other, they’d stayed up until 23:30 to watch the lighting of the bonfires, and on their walk back to The Pentagram Helena pulled Erywin into a small clearing just off the main path from the Flight School and said that she wanted to let her see something before everyone else saw them tomorrow night . . .

Naughty girls:  showing off native markings at twelve.  And the line there about letting Erywin see something before everyone else saw them tomorrow night–yes, that gets explained, but not for another two novels.  Yes, I suck.  But you love it.

This, however, leads up to something a little unexpected, so I’ll just let the scene speak for itself:

As Helena turned around the foot of the bed and Erywin, who knew her partner’s moods, saw the wince cross her face just before she set on the edge of the bed. She reached over and touched the sorceress’ back. “Are you all right?”

Helena sighed. “I’m fine.” Though she tried hard to mask her tone, the weariness in her voice came through.

Erywin slid across the bed and sat to her love’s left. “You don’t sound fine.” She bent forward a little and saw the pained looked on Helena’s face. “You’re hurting.”

“Not more than I have before.” Helena rolled up the heme of night gown, exposing her thighs. She ran her fingers across her thighs as she released the enchantments and winced once again as the nerve endings tried to compensate for of the sudden lack of sensation.

Before Helena could act Erywin was off the bed and half-knelling before her partner. “Sit back and let me—” She gently removed the right leg from Helena’s thigh and set it against the wall, then did the same with the left. Erywin laid her hands against the remains of Helena’s legs and crafted a soothing spell she’d learn long ago. “Better?”

Helena nodded. “Much.”

Erywin pulled down the nightgown, draping it over the truncated thighs. “Cuddle?”

Helena flashed her warmest smile. “Yes.” She pushed herself back against her pillow while Erywin retook her place on the bed, softly settled Helena against her body, and wrapped her right arm around her partner’s waist.

Neither spoke for almost five minutes while Erywin’s left hand lightly touched Helena, bringing her comfort and protection. When she found it necessary to speak, Erywin only wanted to confirm what she already knew. “Phantom pain?”

“Yes.” Helena folded her hands across her lap and continued to enjoy the attention. “A little worse than usual, but nothing I haven’t felt before.”

“You should go to have your legs regenerated.” Erywin pressed her face against Helena’s newly cleaned hair and breathed in her scent. “You’ve promised me for the last four years you’d get it done.”

Helena knew she wasn’t going to get out of this conversation easily. “I know.”

When I started designing Helena a long time ago–really, way back in 2011–I’d decided then that she’d find herself involved in a horrible situation that would result in a life-changing event.  I’ve hinted at the event at the end of Act One, though I’m not sure I posted that moment as an excerpt.  I’ve also left a few clues that there was something different with Helena’s legs:  she always wore pants, she was never seen running, and the one time she wore a skirt, some observant geek kid remarked that it seemed a little longer than it should be.

Now everyone knows The Mistress of All Things Dark;  she’s a double amputee, and it’s only through a combination of magic and technology that she can walk.  The event that caused her to become this way will get explained in this novel, even in this part.  I wouldn’t leave people hanging.

There’s a slight discussion about a medical procedure that Helena has promised herself for years but never gotten around to doing, and then Erywin gets into the reasons for the pain:

Erywin stroked Helena’s hair. “So tell me, my pretty girl, why the pain? What has you bothered?”

“What makes you think I’m bothered?” She looked out the window and took in the city. “Do I look bovvered?”

“I’d have to see your face.” Erywin chuckled as she hugged Helena. “But something is bothering you; that’s the only time you get phantom pains, when something is bothering you. And it’s been bothering you for the last month.”

Helena saw no point of hiding her concerns now. “The operation. I always worry when I’m on one.”

We also pick up in the last part here that both Erywin and Helena are fans of Lauren Cooper.  I’ll leave that to you to look up.  But what is wrong with the operation?  What has Helena bovvered?

“I thought there wasn’t anything unusual about this one.” A slight worry began playing inside Erywin.

“There isn’t. But even after I’ve read every report, covered every contingency, thought of every possible problem, I continue to wonder if I’ve missed something.” She slowly shook her head. “Everything is a knowable unknown: the people we’re observing, the location, even us.” Helena turned her face upwards toward Erywin’s. “We’re the biggest knowable unknowns.”

“Because three of us are new at this?” This continued to be Erywin’s biggest fear, that her complete lack of experience was going to hinder the operation.

“I’m new at this as well; I’ve never had to handle two A Levels in the field before. It’s not just everyone else.”

“Then?”

“It’s wondering how we’re going to do as a team if things go tits up and we find ourselves deep in the shite.” Helena clutched Erywin’s hand. “That’s the greatest knowable unknown of them all.” She cut off Erywin before she denigrate herself and her abilities further. “You were at the heart of The Scouring at the school, and you were Vicky’s second on patrol and air assault during the Day of the Dead: don’t tell me you can’t do this.”

If there’s one thing that Erywin keeps ignoring, it’s just how bad ass she can get when duty calls.  During the Scouring she zapped her fair share of bad guys, and you can bet she was zipping around the school during the Day of the Dead killing Deconstructors and Abominations alike with that big gun she turned on Wednesday.  She might not be the sorceress her life partner is, but don’t cross her; she’d probably do you in without a second thought.

That leaves just one last thing–well, two actually:

“Yeah.” Erywin lightly ran her fingers over the ridges of Helena’s ta moko. “That leaves those two in the other room. Any concerns there?”

“Only one.”

“And that is?”

“Hoping they can handle what comes after if we have to turn them loose.” Helena lay back as far as she could and stared at the ceiling. “Everything else is secondary.”

What does Helena mean by “turn them loose”?  Are they going to be in a Loverboy video?  Far from it . . .  I think you know what she means, so no need to elaborate.

Up next:  We switch over to the other room, and see if Annie is still wearing the pants in this relationship . . .

Rough Night in Nox

Today I was hoping to end out my first week in the new digs with a quick day at work, a little lunch in a new cafe, and finishing up Chapter Eleven tonight before turning in and figuring out what I’m going to do for the weekend.  That’s what I thought about last night.

However . . . my body and my mind thought otherwise.

The headache is still here, though not as major as it was the other day.  Last night I managed to edit about twenty-five hundred words in Couples Dance, and did a very good job of it, if I may say.  I watched a hilarious version of Pulp Fiction on AMC while I edited, because things were cut out and words were completely edited, and if you were using this movie as a guide to figure out what was going on, you’d probably get lost.  Any movie where The Gimp isn’t present, but you get to hear someone tell a young boy about how they kept a watch stuck up their ass for two years is a strange time indeed.

With all that behind me I headed off to bed . . .

And woke up about two AM with the guitar solo from Firth of Fifth running through my mind in a never-ending loop.  I felt warm, I felt a little disoriented, I felt uncomfortable.  I got up and washed off my face, then rolled back into bed and spent hours tossing and turning.  I didn’t seem tired, but I didn’t want to get out of bed, because I knew that once up, I’d be up the rest of the night.

I know I finally fell back to sleep because I had a dream that I drove up to my house and found people I didn’t know working on it, and who had put some of my things out on the curb for garbage pickup.  This did not please me, I can assure you, and there were words spoken, though being it was a dream I don’t know what was said.  I think at some part I ended up driving away and going for a walk in the woods because why not?

There were other moments, too, where I felt like I may have been awake, may have been asleep, and I didn’t know if I was dreaming, if I was hallucinating, or just had strange thoughts running about my head.  For one I was out shopping at Catherine’s, getting a couple of outfits for work, and Donna Noble–not Catherine Tate, the actress, but the actual character–was waiting on me, giving me the strange eye the whole time.  There was another of these moments where I swear the reason I was having trouble sleeping was because I’d just gotten breasts implants, and having big boobs in bed was bothersome . . .

Lastly, though, I was with someone I know, a special friend shall we say, and I spent a considerable amount of time kissing her from her cheeks to her toes and back.  This was topped off with something special that, while it took some time, the end result was great for us both.  The last part of this moment that I remember was holding her and calling her, “My dark witch,” to which she replied, giggling, “I’m not a witch, I’m your wife.”  Then she spooned into me and drifted off to sleep.

That’s what will likely happen to me tonight.

The drifting off to sleep thing, you know?

Cold Posturing

The last year has seen me getting sick a lot more than I’d been in the four years before that.  When you’re not in contact with people day after day, you avoid those viruses that will bring you low.  When you get back to the work force, however, you find those little bastards have been waiting for you with a glee in their non-existent eyes . . .

I’ve had at least three colds since getting back to work, and the worst was over last summer, when I had a respiratory infection that decided to stick around for two months.  I had trouble breathing, I had trouble sleep, I had trouble just getting through the day.  It wasn’t in any way fun, and for a while I thought I was going to lose my mind because I was suffering from extreme exhaustion.

Near the end of January I caught something that started to lay me low before I kicked it back.  Then, a week later, it tried making a comeback, and I manged to beat on it a little more even though I ended up having to take a day off.  I thought I was over that . . . until yesterday.

Early in the morning I felt the sore throat coming on.  Before I left for home I felt the fever coming.  By the time I was home from work I was burning; I don’t know what my temp was, but I was up there.  I hurt all over, my sense of time passage was way off . . . yep, fever was on, and all I could do was med up and hope for the best.

I didn’t sleep much last night, and though I feel a little better, I’m sweating like mad and suffering chills off and on.  My head is very wibbly-wobbly, and I’m certain I’m going to need a nap before the day it out.  Maybe I’ll even need to run to the store to pick up some medication, because I’m almost out.

Needless to say, I didn’t write last night.  Couldn’t write was more like it; the head was all over the place and my fingers were comfortably numb–so much so it was hard for me to even feel the keyboard.  It was all for the best, because there was no way I was going to do anything that would have made sense.  Not to mention when I’m feverish my sense of time passage goes right to hell, and I probably would have thought I’d been writing for an hour when the reality would have been more like ten minutes.

I wrote stoned a couple of times, and while it seems a good idea at the time, what come out on the other end was pure, unfettered crap.  Nothing I’d typed made any sense, and it was at that point that I decided that while I might be able to write with a bit of a buzz on, no way I was going to producing any kind of work I’d be proud of when I was too far gone to be unsure I could walk a straight line.

It’s like that when I’m extremely sick.  The body and mind are telling you to stop whatever the hell it is you want to do, and just rest.  So I rested.

Today is another day.  Lets see if I can get back into my work–

And not feel guilty about not writing due to being incapacitated.