Sliceable Life

Everyone, in life real or fictional, wants to have a place to call their own.  It’s one of the concepts I keep returning to in the novel, because it’s truly a focus for my kids.  They have their childhood homes; they have their rooms at the school; they have their space where they share dreams.  It’s something I feel right–had for a few years now–because I sometimes feel like I have no real place to live, that I have no real home at the moment.

But that’s me:  my kids, they’re finally back home to, as Kerry called it, “Salem Home.”  Like it or not, since about a week after they arrived at school back in their A Levels, they’ve called good old Cernunnos Tower home, or at least Annie started that and Kerry picked up on it quickly.  Everything after that was, “Let’s go home, Sweetie,” and given how they were developing as a couple it was easy to believe they were really sort of setting up a little mini home of their own.

And that’s where they’re at now, Back Home in Cape Ann, kinda beating the rush back to school . . .

 

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

The Jaunt from Vienna brought Annie and Kerry back to Salem around twelve-twenty, a far different time than their return the year before. They considered getting a quick bite before heading off to their rooms to do their adjustment, but they were informed at the station that the kitchen was in operation until twenty hours to accommodate all but those students returning late that night.  Knowing this they headed off to the tower to spent the next three hours in adjustment.

Cernunnos Tower was still nearly empty. The only students who’d returned were those from east and central Asia, Australia, and other parts of Oceania. Though a few students from Europe and the Americas were already back, the majority of the current traffic for the next hour or two was returning from Africa and Europe, and kids from North, Central, and South America would soon follow.

Adjustment was, as always quick and easy. They were given their coded mixtures as soon as they arrived, and upon returning to their rooms they changed into their pajamas—their bags were teleported directly from the station—drank them down, and crawled into bed. As they’d done on the flight over at the start of the school year, both kids slept soundly and dreamless, and when they awoke around sixteen-thirty, they were back on local Salem time.

Neither student changed back into street clothes upon awaking: since there weren’t classes or school events today, the feeling around the school was much like that of an all-day Midnight Madness. Nearly everyone wore some kind of sleeping garment, or at the least, something they were comfortable in which to relax. Annie and Kerry both wore their heaviest sleep ware and robes and kept to the tunnels when moving about The Pentagram. About the only difference in their apparel was Annie wore he Ugg boots to keep her feet warm while Kerry wore a heavy pair of socks with his slippers—again, much like they did during the Midnight Madness when the weather turned cold.

They had taken a table in the Dining Hall and had just placed their orders when Penny and Jairo entered the room with Alex and Kahoku close behind. The covenmates—and Alex’s boyfriend—ask if they could join them for dinner, and the six of them sat around the magically enlarged table chatting away while they enjoyed their light dinners, deserts, and plenty of hot chocolate and apple cider. Outside it was dark and the temperatures were dropping, but in the Dining Hall the lights were low, the environment was cozy, and the conversation between friends great.

Outside the sky was clear and the temperatures were near minus five Celsius, but the Ground Floor Commons of Cernunnos Tower was bright and warm now that the large fireplace was once more operational. It was the perfect place to hang out with returning friends—as they’d were all doing since they’d returned from dinner. Since there wasn’t much in the way of security at the moment—Sabrina was allowing all students access to the commons of all towers so they could mingle—Kahoku sat with the Cernunnos B and C Levels to enjoy their company, but mostly to be with Alex, whom he hadn’t seen since they’d left on Yule Holiday.

At no time did Annie mention that he’d dreamwalked Kerry on Boxing Day: given the way the other two couples commiserated about being unable to see each other for the two weeks they were away, she felt any mention of their dream time together would come across as bragging. She almost asked if they’d written to each other during their time away, but after Penny remarked about being able to make one call right after Christmas, Annie had her answer.

 

That penultimate paragraph was actually the first I wrote before writing all the other stuff before it.  That was how I envisioned the scene starting before jumping into a mini flashback showing the kids arriving back at school, but I kept moving it down until I got to where it is now, then I put the last paragraph in, called it a night, and sat down to watch Fargo.

But here they are, relaxing at school with two other couple that are closely becoming friends–yeah, even brought in Alex’s boyfriend from Laos–sitting in front of the big fireplace in the coven tower, talking and waiting for the night to come to and end.  After which . . .

Well, if this layout is any indication, it could be something crazy.

Well, if this layout is any indication, it could be something crazy.

But you won’t know that until tomorrow.

Magical Mountain Home

So, much has been said about the House That Annie Had Built, and it’s even shown up here before–

The building that launched a couple of hundred thousand words.

Just in case you’d forgotten, the place where a shared vision will eventually come true–if nothing happens to my kids.

But everyone knows about the Lake House, because it gets talked about all the time.  What hasn’t been seen much, save during the holidays and the scene in the first book where Annie left for school for the first time.  However, that doesn’t mean I have figured out what it looks like . . .

The background to Annie’s parent’s house really started back in 2011.  The house first came up in conversation, probably around August of that year, when my friend Tanya–the original Annie–started talking about an idea she had for the house where Annie lived in the mountains.  Now, Tanya will be the first to say she’s not a “visual person,” and while she had the idea about how the house looked, she didn’t know how to bring that vision out.

But since I’ve all the tools and I’m used to designing stuff, I thought I’d draw up the house based upon what she said in our texts.

Just for the record, Tanya loved the layout; she felt it was just how she thought the house should look:  not too fancy, but still something impressive.  And just strange enough that it would fit in well in the world of magic.

I’m considered doing a three-dimensional version of the plan for some time, and Saturday afternoon I spent several hours putting the house together, making some modifications from the original design, and then getting pictures of the three-dimensional layout.

All so you guys can see this.

Let’s start with the basement, because it’s as good a place to start.  Here it is:

Welcome to the lower levels!

Welcome to the lower levels!

So, from right to left we have a spiral staircase to the ground floor, a family room, a bed room, a full bath, and a tunnel.  The staircase is easy enough to explain, as is the tunnel, which is the four hundred and twenty meter route to Annie’s Lake House, with a little detour to Pavlina Kirilova’s greenhouse and lab.  This is the way Annie takes when there’s lots of snow on the ground and she doesn’t feel like dealing with the mountain elements.  The large passage from the stairs to the tunnel also has little areas set in the wall you can’t see for storage and other things.

The family room is found in a lot of homes, where people retreat into their lower levels to watch TV and BS.  The full bath, however, seems a little too full for anyone to just use, and if you look closely, you’ll see there’s a door leading to the bedroom as well.  There’s also a door leading from the from the family room to the bedroom, and that’s because . . . this is the master bedroom where Pavlina and Victor sleep.  The parents sleep in the basement?  Yep.  And why not?  It’s quiet, you have your own bathroom, and when Annie’s up in her room or out to the lake house, it’s a nice, quiet place to stay and feel like you’re the only couple in the universe.

So the stairs go up.  To where?  Here:

Now this looks like a normal house.

Now this looks like a normal house.

Here is the ground floor.  Big porch out front, another big porch in the back.  What we have here, going clockwise, are the stairs, the living room, a storage area and the half bath, the dining room, another set of stairs going up, the mud room, the kitchen, a full bath and a closet/storage area, a bedroom, and Victor’s office/study.  In the dining room scene just described, Annie sits along the long side of the table facing the windows, her mother sits to her right and close to the kitchen, and her father sits with his back to the large window.  And Victor gets his own office because, well, he needs one.  Where’s Pavlina’s?  Out in the greenhouse/lab:  that’s her domain.

This is as good a time as any to point out that the main entrance faces north, looking out on to a mountain flank, so the dining room is gonna get all the morning light.  The kitchen is filled with a lot of modern equipment, most of it enhanced with magic.  And the bedroom is now the guest bedroom, but at one time this was Annie’s bedroom until she was almost six, at which time the bedroom on the first floor was built for her.  Even as a little girl Annie had her own bath.

Originally the first floor of the house was a lot of open space, and there was always talk of building guest rooms up there, but once Annie grew older and required her own space, Mama and Papa decided their little girl needs here own area.  And they got it for her:

What little witch doesn't need a place of her own?

What little witch doesn’t need a place of her own?

And talk about a place!  It’s everything a teenage Bulgarian princess needs to call her own.  And that’s really what the first floor is:  it’s Annie’s living quarters.  Off the stairs she has a sitting room for visitors, and a bathroom for them both.  Inside the room there’s access to a walk-in closet, and her bedroom–it’s the size of the dining room, the half-bath/storage area, and half the living room.  With a little magic Annie can bring about just about any kind of furniture setup she likes in the open space at the end of her bed:  study area, TV area, even a sitting area for those friends closest to her.  It’s really her lake house before she had a lake house.  When you think about it, Annie has living areas bigger than a lot of apartments and even some houses.  Needless to say, she’s living large for a little girl.

There you have it:  The Kirilovi Family dwellings.  Probably the thing to do one of these days is to make out the land, and maybe build Pavlina’s lab/greenhouse.

But that’s for another time.  After a few thousand more words.

The Lunch Counter

At the moment I have a wicked drug hangover working, and it’s making me loopy as help.  I felt a chill coming on last night and took some Theraflu right before heading off to bed, and now–I think I needed a few hours more of sleep, but I kept waking up, which means I wasn’t about to sleep at all.  I get like this sometimes:  there’s some kind of disorientation that wakes me up and keeps me up, so it’s really Catch-22 time for me.

My eyes are also gummed up bad this morning.  I’ve tried cleaning them three or four times, and it feels like I’m seeing through a haze for the most part.  I hate when this happens, too, and it tend to drive me a little crazy.

It’s going to make for an interesting walk into work this morning.

Chapter Seventeen is down and away, and Eighteen is here.  I finished Annie’s chapter with just under four hundred words, and then got into Christmas Eve at the Malibeys–

Once more it's on like a video game I haven't played in decades.

Once more it’s on like . . . a video game I haven’t played in decades?

Tell you what’s happening then, right?  Well, the title of the post should give you a hint:

 

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

Kerry reached the bottom of the stairs and spun around around the bottom banister post before walking down the hall towards the kitchen. He didn’t look inside the lounge as he passed the open door, nor did he check the dining room. He proceeded directly for the pantry and removed a can, setting it on the counter before removing a pot from one of the drawers. As soon as the contents of the can were in the pot and the fire lit, he turned towards the refrigerator, found what he needed, and set them on the counter next to the stove.

He waited for the soup to come to a slow bubble before he started making his sandwich. Normally his mother only kept white bread in the house, but they went shopping the Saturday after returning and he picked up a loaf of rye and a few other things for lunch. He had lettuce, plenty of cheese, and horseradish, but he wasn’t allowed to pick up tomatoes: his mother said she didn’t like the “look” of the regular salad tomatoes, and she wouldn’t let him picked up the ones on the vine.

That’s the one thing I miss about Salem. He sliced cheese and set it on one slice of rye. They can jaunt in fresh food from anywhere. I’m sure there are places around Cardiff connected to The Foundation where they do the same

“What are you making?”

 

I looked up the cost of tomatoes at Tesco, and they’re like £2 a kilogram now, so they were cheaper in 2012.  Why didn’t Kerry’s mom want to buy any?  Maybe she really didn’t like how they  looked–or maybe she was just being a bitch because her son was in “I want some tomatoes ” mode.  She’s right there, however, to see what The Red is Cookin’, and to her surprise she gets an answer:

 

He turned around and found his mother standing in the entryway from the kitchen to the family room. “I’m making some soup and a sandwich.”

“What kind?” She took a couple of steps into the kitchen and tried to look around without appearing too inquisitive.

“Oh, I grabbed a can of broccoli cheddar, and I’m making a turkey sandwich.” He checked the pot and gave the soup a quick stir. “I’m wondering if I should put this in a pan and make it sorta like a panini.”

She watched him prepare his lunch for a few moments. “Do that have something at your school that lets you do that?”

He nodded. “Yeah, they have a couple of panini presses.”

Louise wanted to check the contents of the pot, but she didn’t want to go around Kerry to do so. “You never used to have soup and sandwiches for lunch.”

“Well . . .” He shrugged as he laid turkey slices over a slice of swiss. “The school has a buffet table every lunch with this—different soups, meats, and bread.” He began smiling. “They have tomato and clam chowder, and a great French onion soup.” He sliced off another sliver of swiss cheese. “And then there’s deli turkey, and pastrami, and they have this brisket . . .” Kerry looked up, smiling, remembering some of his lunches. “I like to put that on ciabatta.”

“Ciabatta.” She leaned towards the soup pot. “And brisket. Must be nice.”

“The school wants to make sure we’re well fed.” He gave the soup a couple of quick stirs and turned off the heat. “What can I say? The Foundation has money, and they don’t let us to go without.”

 

“Ciabatta . . . and Brisket.”  You can almost hear the eye roll as she says that.  Something I should point out:  at the end of Annie’s chat with her father, he mentioned they’re going to jaunt off to Valencia, Spain, to have tapas for dinner, and on this day, Christmas Eve–that’s when this scene takes place, right around noon–while Kerry is making soup and a sandwich, Annie’s off to Sofia, Bulgaria, to dine in a private room with all her relatives.  But he’s the one sort of getting passive-aggressive shit about eating brisket on ciabatta at school.

I’m sure this is gonna be a pleasant lunch.

One last thing:  it was a year ago I posted the scene from the first novel where Kerry, after coming close to dying in the Day of the Dead attacks, finally told Annie that he loved her–although, at the time, he didn’t realize that wasn’t the first time he’d told her, but that’s beside the point.  He told her, and she was a happy girl–sort of, but that’s beside the point, too.

The interesting thing is that of the three comments I received, all of them worried something bad was about to happen.  Here it is, a year later–both in real live and in my novels–and Kerry’s still here, still kicking, and Annie is still with him.  So unlike a George R. R. Martin book, nothing bad has happened to my kids–

Yet.

Adjusting For Home

I said I’d have another post, didn’t I?  Sure I did.  Now, the writing’s been a bit slow this morning, ’cause I’ve had shopping, and I’m cooking a big pot of chili in my crockpot, and I’ve washed all my clothes as well.  Between running out and running up and down, and snacking and trying to stay awake, it’s been a busy morning.

Let’s not forget the other blog post, too.

Anyhow, a few things have popped up.  For one, I’ve had a discussion about Annie dreamwalking Kerry, and I brought up something that I’ve thought about for a while:  once Annie figures out how to do that, she can spend all her time with Kerry while they’re awake, and then, once they’re asleep, she can come and visit him in his dreams.  It means that if she’s in the mood, she can spend all her time with Kerry, and he with her.  This could make her a bit like a Magically Overly Attached Girlfriend, and that means she needs a meme:

"You wouldn't want other girls sneaking in here, would you?  That could be . . . bad."

“You wouldn’t want other girls sneaking into your dreams, would you? That might be bad.”

Annie will keep you safe, Kerry.  Don’t worry.  Ever.

Yesterday was also saw the road leading up to Kerry’s house, so why not look at the road leading up to Annie’s.  Well . . .

And it looks this way right now in the novel.  Sort of.

And it looks this way right now in the novel. Sort of.

That area heading off into the woods on the right is the route heading into the mountains and going right to the Kirilovi Home.  It doesn’t look that way, but it is.  And while Annie’s parents have cars–and they even take them out for a drive when they want to maintain appearances–most of their visitors don’t drive, if you know what I mean.  You can be if or when Kerry comes to visit, it won’t be via this road.  Doesn’t mean he may not take the car into town, but a visit to Annie won’t involve ground travel.

But right now Annie’s home, and if Kerry is home thinking about her, that probably means Annie is thinking about him . . .

 

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

Annie’s eyes gradually opened and took in the darkness of her room. There was some ambient light, most of which came from the glow of her digital clock. She locked her gaze upon the readout: 19:15. It’s seventeen-fifteen in Cardiff— She rose up on her right elbow and brushed the hair from her face. He’s probably home and finally getting the opportunity to relax.

She slipped her legs from under the covers and sat on the side of the bed as she wriggled her feet into here slipper. Annie brushed her hair back over her shoulders and brought the lights in her room to their lowest level; only then did she make perpetrations to rise and face the rest of her first day home for Yule Holiday.

Her necklace and charm bracelet were on the jewelry tree sitting upon her dressing table. She’d considered wearing the necklace to bed, since he’d left it on when she’d Adjusted on the flight from Berlin to Boston with nothing happening. Adjustment sleep was so deep and full that a person almost never moved—almost.

Annie let the locket dangle inside her night shirt, where it felt cool against the bare skin over her heart. She slipped the charm bracelet on after that, smiling as she thought back to only a few hours before when they arrived home and she removed her jacket, both parents caught side of Kerry’s gift dangling around her left wrist. Her mother finally made the inquiry, and she nearly laughed when she saw the look they exchanged upon her saying it was as gift Kerry gave her during their first day in Berlin. While her father wasn’t certain what to make of this gift, Annie saw her mother realized the significance immediately—

The robe floated off the back of the chair where Annie set it after unpacking and hung in the air. She stepped up and backed into it, slipping her arms into the outstretched sleeves. She’d begun practicing this move a few months before after watching Helena doing this with one of her leather coats, and seeing her get into her coat that way brought back the memory of her mother sometimes do this same thing with her winter coats. It was necessary, then, for her to try the same thing, and since her skill with the Levitation spell was excellent, she crafted this action in a matter of a couple of days.

Walking towards the door she wrapped her robe around her and tied the sash. I imagine I’ll be able to slip this onto my shoulders with another month of practice. She waited until she was right in front of the door before waiving it open. I wonder if I’ll be able to actually dress myself that way? Mostly likely it would be easy with a dress—

“Ah, you’re finally up.”

Annie instinctively clutched her robe and held it tightly around her neck when she saw the visitor sitting in her sitting room. “Papa. You’re not supposed to come up unannounced.”

 

While Annie doesn’t mind a little tea with her mother in her sitting room, it seems as if having her father pop up without making an announcement first is a big social no-no.  And it probably doesn’t take a genius to figure out why he’s there–

You only have to wait until I write that part so you can see if you’re right.

Homecomings and Heart Feels

So much happening today; so much has happened already this morning.  For one, I awoke at four AM, and it’s been a tiring morning.  Needless to say there’s been a bit of stress in my life of late, and a bit of the stress pulled me out of slumbers.  It happened; you just go with it.  At least I can take a nap this afternoon and try to catch up on sleep this weekend.

This morning the story inched over the one hundred and fifty-nine thousand word line.  Eighty-one words to the one sixty mark–onward and upward.  I probably won’t make notice of the milestone until I hit one seventy-five, and then again at two hundred thousand.  Looking at where I am, this likely means I’ll go upwards close to three hundred thousand words–does this sound familiar?

We’ll get to that later, but right now . . . Ginger Hair Boy is almost home.  He’s been told to just be himself when he’s with Annie and her parents, and they’ll see just how good a person he is.  And guess what?  Kerry likes that idea.

 

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

He couldn’t find anything wrong with Ms. Rutherford’s assessment of the what happened in Vienna, or what might happen in the future. She was right: it didn’t matter what her father thought of him, Annie loved him, wanted to married him, wanted to have—well, what came next in that progression, but there wasn’t any need to bring that up now. It’s not something I should worry about now: it’s going to be a while before I spend any time with her family—maybe not until our D Levels—and since we know we marry . . .

They were on Newport Road and clear of the main part of downtown, and it wouldn’t be long before they made the left-hand turn on to the Albany Road. “Almost there.”

Just a quick left up ahead and it's home sweet home time.

Just a quick left up ahead and it’s home sweet home time.

“Yes, we are.” Bernice scrutinized him carefully. “You’re handling this separation better than last year.”

“Kinda.” He glanced out the passenger window. “It still hurts, but I remember what Erywin told me about hurt—the good and bad kinds. Right now I have the good kind—”

“Which is what?”

“It’s what you have when you know you’re going to see the person you love again.” He turned away from the window with a huge smile on his face. “Just two weeks, right?”

“Fifteen days.” She smiled back as they turned left off Newport and drove up Albany. “Pick you up in the afternoon and get you dinner.” She nodded towards the front of the car. “Unless you want to eat at home.”

“We’ll eat out—” The car turned off Albany and entered Timbers Square. “Something light, though: Annie and I will have dinner that night after we Adjust.”

“I love a good plan.” The driver pulled the car to the curb in front of Kerry’s home and shut off the engine. Kerry gripped the door handle as he started up at the front of the entrance of his house. “Well . . .” He smirked. “I’m guessing Indian takeaway awaits.”

“You’ll only find out if you go inside.” Bernice cracked open her door. “Shall we?”

“You bet.” Kerry was out of the car and had his backpack and luggage in-hand about a half a minute later. He was half way up the walk when the front door opened and his mother framed the entrance.

 

Now we’re home–well, Kerry is, we’re just watching as readers.  Kerry’s already thinking about what’s ahead two weeks in the future, and all of the fine dining that awaits him as Casa Malibey.  We’ve already seen that Kerry has become spoiled by the fine dining that is a trademark of the School at Salem, and when he returns home for the various holidays, he’s not happy with the home fare, but hey:  that’s what happens when you’re now having your food cooked for you by artificial people working with time spells.

Was he right?

 

“There you are.” She opened the outer door. “Welcome home, Kerry.”

“Hi, Mom.” He walked into the entrance hallway.with Ms. Rutherford right behind him. “Hey, Dad.”

“Hello, Kerry.” His father waved from the lounge entryway. “How was the flight over?”

“Good, good.”

“He got into Heathrow on-time.” Ms. Rutherford adjusted her purse on her shoulder. “Miracles do happen, even today.”

“Yeah—” He turned half-way back towards Ms. Rutherford. “It was just like magic.” He was afraid she wouldn’t get the little in-joke, but she smiled and gave him a little nod to let him know she understood.

“I’m glad you didn’t have any problems getting here.” His mother turned towards Kerry’s case working. “How long is Kerry with us?”

“Until 5 January. I told him I’ll be by to pick him up that afternoon, then it’s off to London and a late-night flight back to the States.” Bernice glanced towards the boy. “We went over this in the car just before we arrived.”

“Yeah, I got it all, Mom.” He gripped the handle of his luggage. “Then you don’t see me for five months.”

His mother chuckled. “I’m sure we’ll find a way to get by.”

Bernice felt it was time to go. Kerry needed no further information, and any additional updates would come too him through email and texts. “With that said . . .” She faced Kerry’s parents. “Mr. Malibey, Mrs. Malibey: Have a good holiday and a wonderful Christmas.”

Louise Malibey answered for them both. “You, too, Ms. Rutherford. Have a wonderful holiday.”

“I will, thank you.” She faced Kerry. “Enjoy the Yule holiday, Kerry.” A slight smile played across her face. “You’ll be back at school in no time at all.”

“I know.” He grinned back. “Have a good Yule, Ms. Rutherford.”

“Take care, Kerry.” She bid everyone a good evening and returned to the car.

 

Yeah, totally right.  Though he gets points for zipping off a inside joke that only Ms. Rutherford and he could get–for now.  Give that another five months we’ll see if mom and dad get the joke.

Speaking of mom and dad–

 

Louise locked the inner door before speaking to her son. “We didn’t know if you’d eaten on the flight or picked up something on the train—”

“I had a little something before getting on the train.” He fidgeted next to his luggage. “Nothing big, just enough to to hold me over.”

“Okay, well . . .” Louise seemed a bit embarrassed. “I had nothing planed tonight; we thought we’d just get some take away—”

Kerry resisted the urge to smirk. “That’s fine, Mom.”

Davyn Malibey spoke finally spoke up. “How do you feel about fish and chips?”

“That would be great, Dad.”

“That’ll work.” His father looked at his wife. “I’ll call Albany. We can have them deliver.”

 

By the way, the Albany Fish Bar is the place of which his father is referring, and it’s a real place, only about a kilometer from their house, and it gets a lot of good reviews.  Hard to say if this is the same place that Kerry said has fish and chips that don’t measures up to Salem’s, but–we already know he’s getting spoiled, and he better learn to Cook the Salem Way if he doesn’t want to spend the next hundred years going, “The pizza at Salem is better than this crap.”  Don’t disappoint yourself, kid:  take that step.

There’s a little more back and forth with his mother–who wants to know if Kerry is gonna have issues with jet lag–and then it’s off to his first floor room:

 

Kerry headed up the stairs to the first floor, taking the left from the landing directly to his room. He pushed the door shut with his foot—he was careful not to use magic to swing it shut from a meter or more away—and set his backpack on his bed. He wasn’t concerned about putting his clothes up at this moment, but he did want his computer set up right away.

He pulled the tablet computer and keyboard from his backpack, set them upon his computer nook between the northeast wall and his wardrobe, and powered up the system as he retrieved the power adapter. The system was up almost instantly due to the upgrades Isis had performed on his system for his birthday. He waited until his tablet was hooked into the house grid before taking time to admire his desktop wallpaper: a selfie of Annie and him snapped at the Starbucks the day Alex invited them to come in, sit, and chat. He’d considered changing the wallpaper before coming home, but decided to leave it as is: he figured if his mom or dad had questions about the girl in the picture, he’d tell them. After all they knew Annie was in his “dorm”, and that she shared classes with him—

And she’s already planning our wedding and I’ve met her parents and she’s said she’s carrying our kids— He sat on the corner of his bed, his eyes locked on the image of his Chestnut Girl, the girl of his dreams that he loved so dearly. I wonder what mom would say about that?

He lay back on his bed, placing his hands behind his head as he stared up at the ceiling. Annie was going to do her Adjustment when she got home. He sighed softly. She should be getting up right about now . . .

 

Right now, I would give anything to be able to draw a picture of the selfie serving as Kerry’s tablet wallpaper.  I can imagine Annie holding her Frappuccino so it’s seen–or maybe Kerry had Alex or Penny take the picture with his phone, and they’re both holding their Starbucks drinks up while they sit, cheek-to-cheek, smiling like crazy and as happy as two kids in love can be.  It’s the one thing I love about their world being rooted in ours:  kids are still doing kids things, and once again stuffy witch Annie show everyone she’s really a teenager at heart.  Only she can kill you with her mind, which means you still gotta stay on her good side.

Now, if Kerry is wondering about Annie getting up right about the time he’s laying down, if you remember what happened during their time apart last Yule, you’ll know what’s coming next . . .

Cartref yn ôl ar Gyfer y Gwyliau

And with a title like the mouthful posted today, it means only one thing:  someone’s back home in Wales.  It goes without saying that this is probably not a good moment for my Ginger Hair Boy, because home is not a good place for him, but at least he didn’t have a break down moment like the last time he left a certain Chestnut Girl who was on her way back to Bulgaria.

He know he’s going to see her in a few weeks, and this slight pain he feels is a good one.  Or so he was once told.

Therefore let us to head off to the place of the return and see what transpires next.

No word if Kerry picked up a tasty steak pastry before leaving the station, however.

No word if Kerry picked up a tasty traditional steak pastry before leaving the station, however.

 

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

Kerry followed Ms. Rutherford out of Cardiff Central Station and headed towards the Audi saloon with the raised boot lid. He set his roll-on bag in the boot, tapped the lid to activate the auto-close mechanism, then got in on the rear passenger side, setting his backpack between his legs. The moment his seat belt clicked shut, the driver put the car in gear and pulled out.

Weather was about normal for this time of year for Cardiff: cloudy with a light winds and about eight Centigrade. The sun had set about an hour before, but the lights of the city kept everything bright. It was rare he saw this part of the city when it was dark: the few times he’d went with his family anywhere during the evening, they bypassed downtown by taking Western Avenue. Not that they ever went anywhere at night . . .

His mind wasn’t on being home: it was on Annie and on meeting her father. After the discussion he had with Ms Rutherford before their late lunch, he couldn’t get over the feeling of her dad scrutinizing him, of trying to determine if there was something different about him. He didn’t get that exact feeling while standing across from him in the jaunt waiting area, but a few hours later, after he’d had time to analyze the meeting, the meeting left him a little unnerved.

Annie told me there were things I needed to know about her family— He caught a quick glimpse of the prison as they drove eastward. She didn’t mention anything about her father doing his best to make me feel a bit insignificant.

 

After a few hours of sitting and lunching and enjoying some great sandwiches and talking with Ms. Rutherford, Kerry finally starting to get those “I just met my girlfriend’s father” jitters, and it’s not leaving him in a good place.  The last twenty-four hours have been pretty heavy for Kerry, with parents meetings and talk of babies.  What else can get laid on his twelve year old ass before he’s dropped off for Christmas?

 

Bernice sensed his contemplation. “Thinking about anyone I know?”

“Annie—” He looked straight ahead. “And her dad.”

“Ah, yes: the future father-in-law.” She almost chuckled at the sideways look Kerry sent her way. “There’s one thing I didn’t tell you about fathers—”

“What’s that?”

“The never think there’s any boy who’s good enough for their daughters. They spend their entire lives providing and protecting their little girls, and then along comes some boy who captures her heart, and . . .” She shrugged. “I want to say it shouldn’t be that way, but often times it goes in that direction. You do have one thing going for you—”

He looked across to his case working. “And that is?”

“Annie. From what I know, from what you’ve told me, she’s made her choice, and she isn’t about to change her feelings for you. Given the powers of persuasion she has with her parents, I believe when the time comes, she’d get her father to come around to her way of thinking.” She glanced out the window to her right. “More or less.”

“That’s comforting.” Kerry chuckled imagining that confrontation. “Guess there’s nothing I can do about it right now.”

“There’s nothing you can do about it, period.” She turned back towards Kerry. “Just be yourself, Kerry. If you try to actively impress her father, you’ll likely end up looking ridiculous. Don’t try to be someone else: be the one with whom Annie fell in love. That’s all you have to do.” She reached over and patted the back of his right hand. “That’s all that’s necessary.”

 

It seems like this holiday jaunt is a lot about the kid’s future, and while it seems like it’s Gang Up on Kerry time, you’ll see in a bit that Annie’s gonna get here share of questions, too.  This is a package deal, and you can bet someone in Annie’s family has a few questions, too.  And does it need to be mentioned that a time will come when Annie gets to meet her future in-laws, and who the hell knows how they’re gonna take this headstrong girl with a strange accent?  Especially Kerry’s mom:  she seems like a bit of a control freak, so what’s it going to be like when she runs into another one taking over her son’s life?  The Controlling Mom meets The Dark Witch.  Should be a good one.

But that’s for another time, and tonight I’ll get my shot and after that make another video to mark an occasion that happens this Sunday.  So much to do, so little time in which to eat, drink, and try to be merry.

At least I enjoyed my Cosmos with dinner last night.

At least I enjoyed my Cosmos with dinner last night.

In the Time of Travel

Well, it’s upon me again:  Travel Day.  In a few hours I’ll need to get going and head out on the road back to Harrisburg, and spend most of the day zooming across the flats of Indiana and Ohio, into the Cuyahoga River valley, and off into the mountains of Pennsylvania.  It’s a long drive, and I don’t expect to reach my apartment until sometime after ten tonight.

What does that look like?  A little like this:

Cue River Deep, Mountain Wide.

Cue River Deep, Mountain Wide.

Six hundred and forty miles one way (or one thousand thirty kilometers, if you prefer), almost thirteen hundred miles round trip, done three times a year.  Including two stops in Ohio that are needed for fuel and food, it’s about an eleven hour drive.

I’m really getting tired of taking this trip, too.

There was a time when I truly looked forward to the trip back to my “real” home, but these days it seems as if the only reason I’m here to do a lot of running around and to get things done that need to be done, but no one else wants to do them.  Get the taxes done; get the cars tested and tagged; put in a new router.  That’s been pretty much everything done while here, and because of problems I had getting my car tested correctly for emissions (which was needed before I could buy new tags), I did a lot of running around and spent a whole lot of money, and never really had the chance to start the paper work on getting my name changed.

But I’m not going to put that last on hold.  I’ll get the research done while I’m in Harrisburg, and, if possible, start the paper work from there.  If nothing else I’ll dip into the 401(k) and hire a lawyer to handle that and the gender marker change, then return to Indiana next when it’s time to appear in court to get all this approved.

I’ve promised to return in July after the project I’m on is delivered and my contact is renewed–though that last is always a “maybe” proposition at best.  I’ll know in a couple of weeks if the State of Pennsylvania wants me for another year.  If so, I’ll probably stay.  If not, I’ll have a couple of months to find something new.

Either way, today more or less reaffirms that my real home is back in Harrisburg, and I’m just visiting Indiana these days.  Where as all I do is run around doing things in Indiana (where the new state motto is “We Won’t Cater Pizza For Your Gay Wedding”), back home in The Burg is where I’m working and being creative and going shopping and meeting people.

It’s where, frankly, I have a life.

Give it about two hours and I’m on the road.  I may stop at Panera before I get to traveling to have breakfast and take a selfie here.  Then it’s onto the toll road and hit the cruise and I’m good until I reach western Ohio, my first fuel stop.  (True fact:  I always stop in Ohio because they have the best service centers on the trip.)

Twist through the mountains tonight, and when I come out of the last one I’m about thirty minutes from parking the car for the night.

Thirty minutes from home.

Yeah, I can’t wait.