The Moment of Clarity: Small Talk

This what comes from not being able to sleep and having something on your mind from the scene you wrote the night before:  you’re up early and you’re adding a hundred words before you forgot something.  And the killer is, I think I forgot something else, so maybe it’ll come to me later.  Or not.  If not, I’m happy with how it is now, because it addressed an important point that needed to get covered.

Five-thirty in the morning and it's not like I have anything better to do.

Five-thirty in the morning and it’s not like I have anything better to do.

Here we are with Annie and Kerry alone at last–really alone, not just sleeping on a sofa or deck chair somewhere, but totally alone–and doing–what?  Snogging away?  Well . . . you’d be surprised.

 

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

Annie emerged from the bathroom with her folded clothes in her hands, her favorite towel wrapped around her head drying her hair, and her favorite long blue robe wrapped around matching silk pajamas. She quickly surveyed the room: television on but sound turned down low; Kerry in his lounging pajamas sitting on the bed right side of the bed, head turned to the left as he stared out the window; his hands folded in his lap and his legs crossed at the ankles.

She stopped and open the drawer where she’d placed her unpacked clothes. He’s thinking. He has something on his mind and he’s wondering how he should tell me. She noticed the tee shirt and jeans he wore from Salem laying across his luggage. Annie half turned and looked over her shoulder. “Dear, are you going to put your clothes away?”

He snapped out of wherever he was and returned to reality. “Oh, yeah: sure.” He hopped off the bed, quickly folded his jeans and shirt, and placed them in the drawers where he was keeping his clothing. “Sorry about that.  I can be a bit of a slob sometimes.”

“It’s okay. It’s just . . .” Annie turned and walked slowly towards him. “I’m used to doing things a certain way, and this is the first time in my life I’ve had to share a living space with someone who’s not my family.” She turned her head slightly to the right and grinned. “Not that I’m complaining.”

“I’m not either.” Kerry crawled back onto the bed and rested against the headboard. “You just need to . . . teach me. Is that it?”

“I don’t know that I would have to do a lot of teaching.” Annie almost jokingly said, “train you,” but realized that would probably come across as sounding too mean. “But we would have to get use to living with each other at some point . . .” She glanced at the television. “Are you watching this?”

 

It’s already been mentioned that it looks like Annie will “wear the pants in the family,” and she certainly isn’t gonna deal with Kerry leaving his clothes laying around.  Like she says she’s not used to being around someone who’s not here family, and it’s even more difficult considering she has no siblings.  But she has Kerry, and . . . she’s certainly not gonna let him mess up her living space!  Sure, she called him “Dear,” but you can almost hear the tone in her voice when she said it . . .

And since she’s asking if he’s watching TV, that means she has other ideas . . .

 

He shook his head. “Not really. I just wanted something on for background noise.”

“Would you mind if I put on some music?”

“Not at all.” Kerry held his left hand over the remote on the nightstand next to him and levitated it to Annie. “Put on whatever you like.”

Annie plucked the remote out of the air and brought up the cable guide. She found a music channel and brought it up before levitating the remote to a spot next to the television. She stepped back as she listened to the song that was finishing. “Can I turn it up a little?”

Kerry nodded. “Go ahead.”

 

Given Kerry’s musical tastes, one has to wonder if he’s inwardly grimacing at the thought of what Annie’s gonna put on.  Probably not, because by now he’d know what she likes, and he’d also know their tastes are wildly different.

Annie does find something she likes, and we get to see her doing something that hasn’t happened all that much in the story:  we get to see her acting like a twelve year old girl . . .

 

Annie waved at the television: the sound bar illuminated and went up five point. A new song began, and Annie bounced with joy. “Oh, I love this.” She moved into the open space between the bed and the bathroom and began dancing as she removed her bathrobe and set it on a nearby chair, humming and singing along with the tune the whole time.

As the song segued into the chorus Annie faced Kerry and sang along. “Hey I just met you/And this is crazy/But here’s my number/So call me maybe.” She performed a quick spin and pointed at him. “It’s hard to look/Right at you baby/But here’s my number/So call me maybe.” She laughed as she sprinted and leapt at the bad, turning in mid-air so that when she landed, she fell backwards against Kerry’s right side. She pushed herself straight back into the space between his right arm and torso and got comfortable. “Are you gonna call me?”

He laughed along. “Do I have a choice? I’ve never seen you dance around like that before.”

“You’ve never seem me at the lake house when I’m alone and the music is on.” She twisted her feet back and forth. “I would bet anything you’ve never heard that song before, either.”

“I’ve heard of it, but . . .” He nodded. “That’s the first time I’ve heard it played.”

 

So there you have it:  Annie likes popular pop music, and she’ll even dance and sing to it when she’s alone.  And, I have it on good authority from someone who knows Annie probably even better than me that were she to have a theme song, it would be Call Me Maybe.  After all, it is about love at first sight, and Annie’s all about that.

But I loved having her sing and dance and getting her hand motions down, and in the end launching herself onto the bed, laughing the whole while.  She’s relaxed and happy, and she’s finally cutting loose a little.  And both kids are noticing things . . .

 

Annie reached up and ran her fingers through his hair. “I like that you changed the color back.”

He chuckled. “I was getting tired of seeing blond all the time.”

“So was I. I love my Ginger Hair Boy.”

“I figured as longer as I change it to blond before going out I’m okay.” Kerry focused on Annie’s feet. “Is that a new polish?”

“Yes, it is.” Annie always liked that Kerry took notice of her nail polish. She’d started doing her fingernails last year, and this summer before coming to Salem—mostly because she wanted something to take her mind off not seeing Kerry in her dreams and the upcoming school year—she started giving herself pedicures. Since then she’d been doing her nails a couple of times a month, and always made sure to show Kerry because he seemed to like them polished. “My mother gave it to me for Yule.”

“That’s a—what? Metallic gray?”

“Yes. It’s from Butter London. It’s called Chimney Sweep.” She flashed her fingers. “See? I match.”

“I saw you did them this morning.” Kerry noticed that Annie always found time in the morning or at night to do her nails—more than likely using some kind of localized time spell to dry them quickly. Since he’d been with her last night and hadn’t noticed the polish, he figured she did them early in the morning. “I like it.”

“I like it, too.” She crossed her arms across here waist and settled back into Kerry’s arms. “What’s on your mind?”

 

She notices his hair, and he notices her polish.  We learn for the first time that Annie does her nails, going the mani-pedi route, and Kerry likes seeing them painted.  Oh, and the polish Annie’s wearing?  It’s real.  Maybe not then, but it is now.  I’m sure there was something similar to it if it wasn’t around, but allowed a little authoritative licence, okay?

This gets to the last order of business:  what’s on Kerry’s mind.  And he tells her–

 

Kerry loved feeling Annie in his arms, and given that there was no possibility of anyone walking in on them, or overhearing what they were discussing, he felt more relaxed that normal. “I was thinking—”

“Yes?”

“I’m the only eleven year old boy in the world sitting in a hotel room alone with the twelve year old girl who could end up being his wife.”

“Could be?” The grin on Annie’s face was huge as she looked upward so she could see Kerry. “And this doesn’t bother you?”

“Nope.”

“Not at all?”

He kissed her on the cheek. “I wouldn’t have thought about it if it was.”

 

Pretty strange thing to think about:  Hey, I’m sitting on a bed with the girl who could be my wife.  Yeah, his mind is getting wrapped around that idea, and he’s getting comfortable with the notion, and Annie’s happy that he’s comfortable.  Nothing to hide there any longer, so just go with it.

But that’s not the real thing–

 

Though she was happy to hear this news, it wasn’t what Kerry had been considering earlier. “But that’s not all that’s on your mind—what were you thinking when entered the room?”

“Oh—that.” He pulled Annie tighter. “I figured out our last dream.”

 

And that’s where I ended everything off, last night and this morning, with Kerry saying he figured out their last shared dream.  Did he?

Well . . . you’ll find out.

Welcome to the Hotel Kansas Witchy

I am finally into the part of the story were we are all out of the school, at least for the weekend, and it’s not a holiday.  It’s Spying Time, and my kids are all ready–well, as ready as they’re going to be.  On the way over to Panera this morning I kept thinking of a good title for this post, and I finally fell on a variation of “Welcome to the Hotel California,” which, if you sing this title out, matching the syllables and time signature perfectly.  And now, when you re-read the title–which I know you’re doing right now–you’re singing it out in your head.

My ladies, and one guy, are doing what everyone does:  they’re getting into their rooms.  Of course, when the leader of your group is a slightly paranoid sorceress, things are done a little differently.

 

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

They entered the hotel room silently, as Helena had instructed them while they were in the elevator on the way up to the floor. Helena looked about the suite—a closet; a doorway to the left and another to the right; a sofa, love seat, table, and television at the far end—then pointed at Erywin before pointing at the door on the right. She raised her hands and initiated the spell as Erywin opened the other door, entered the adjoining room, and initiated her own spell.

A grayness swept along the walls and ceiling, hugging it, touching it, slowly caressing it. It moved over the wall to the left, the wall at the far end of the room, then over to the wall on the right before slipping up to the ceiling. It hovered against the ceiling for almost five seconds before fading into nothingness.

Erywin stepped out of the adjoining room and gave Helena a quizzical look. Helena nodded towards the door to her left. “This room’s clean: let’s check the other.” They entered the room, leaving Annie and Kerry behind.

A minute later they returned. “Both are clean; we can talk.”

Anne pushed here roller bag against the wall. “You were checking for listening devices, weren’t you?”

“Yes.” Helena set her luggage and briefcase next to the door leading to the other room.

Kerry found the situation a bit curious. “Who’s bugging the room?”

“The Foundation.”

“Really?”

Helena peeked into the other room. “Sure. We’re a new team out on a field operation, and there are nosy people in the Guardians who want to make certain we’re doing all the right things.”

 

Nice to know The Foundation–really, the Guardians–might be listening in on you.  But there’s a reason Helena suspects this:

 

Annie, on the other hand, understand this world better. She addressed Helena. “You’ve put in listening devices, having you?”

“And enchantments that do the same thing. How do you think I knew what to look for?” She turned to Erywin, who was looking out the window. “Nice view?”

“I can see the Center—” She pointed at something outside to her right. ”Just across the street.”

“Which is where we want to be.” Helena moved to the center of the room and looked about. “Not bad for an executive suite. Then again, The Foundation is paying the bill, so why not give us something nice?”

 

Yep, let’s do a little spying on people, because someone’s gotta watch the watchmen.  Also, now would be a good time to show everyone where the action is taking place.  First, there’s the Crown Center in downtown Kansas City:

The scene of the crime, so to speak.

The scene of the crime, so to speak.

The center is also the location of the mall where the girl they are watching, Tanith, goes and hangs; on the picture above, it’s right where it says, “Crown Center Ice Terrace”.  The hotel where everyone is staying, the Sheraton Crown Center Kansas City, is the building in the upper right hand corner with the circle on top, which is actually the restaurant and lounge.  Here’s a better picture:

Hey, I can see Erywin in the window!

Hey, I can see Erywin in the window!

We can figure out from Erywin’s view that they are on the south side of the building, and probably high up, because they have nice rooms . . .

 

“It is pretty good.” Kerry stepped over to the door leading to the room next door and looked in. “The other room is just like this?”

“Yes: I asked for adjoining suites.” Helena snapped her fingers to gain the children’s attention. “This is the living area, as you can see. Main closet is right there—” She pointed to the area next to where Annie stood. “Through this other door is the sleeping area, with a king-sized bed and another television, and the bathroom.

“Here’s the plan for this evening. We’re going to leave for dinner in about an hour. I know you’re both hungry, but we’re in a different time zone here and we don’t want to make it look like we’ve just gained an hour. The restaurant is close by and is affiliated with The Foundation, so we’ll have a nice table off to the side where no one can listen in on us, so we’ll be able to discuss our plans for tomorrow without fear.”

Helena on the arm of the sofa where Erywin was already resting. “In the morning we’ll dine in the restaurant downstairs before heading out. I want to give the impression we’re a family, and dining in the open with others is the best way to do so.” She crossed here arms. “We’ll stick to the same morning schedule here as we have Salem: up early, down for breakfast by seven. And keep in mid we’re not adjusting for time, so plan on being up before the alarm and heading off to bed a little early. Ker—” She caught herself and smiled. “I mean, ‘Gavin’, I know you have your phone, so set the alarm for five-thirty.”

 

I’ve actually stayed in a suite like this in the Sheraton Kowloon during one of my visits to Hong Kong, and they are nice.  And they have joining rooms, which is a nice deal–in fact, in some hotels you can get three of them side by side and actually use the room in middle for your entrance.

And about that “Gavin”; that’s the first code name you find out they’re using.  But if I’m gonna tell one, I have to tell them all . . .

 

Kerry grimaced after hearing his phony name. “I really hate that name—Auntie Brenda.”

Erywin snorted. “I’m Phoebe: would you like to get stuck with that?”

Annie decided to join the name game. “I’m Nadya. I knew a girl at my private school named Nadya: she was a snooty little Normal bitch.”

This argument was one they’d already had, and Helena wasn’t about to go over it again. “Take it up with San Francisco: they picked the names.” She stood, dropping her hands to her sides. “Let’s unpack, change if you feel the need, and get ready for dinner.”

 

There you have it:

 

Annie = Nadya

Kerry = Gavin

Helena = Brenda

Erywin = Phoebe

 

And there you have it.  Do you think Kerry will tease Annie about having the name of a snooty little Normal bitch?  Not if he knows what’s good for him.

This brings up something that was likely on Kerry’s mind since walking in the door of the joint:  sleeping arrangements.  Being the only dude in the group it does bring up the question, “Where do I camp out for the evening?”

 

Kerry lay a hand on the handle of his travel bag. “So where are we sleeping—” He couldn’t help but grin. “Mom?”

Erywin pointed to the open door to his left. “Your room is in there.”

“Cool.” He glanced into the room. “You want me sleeping on the bed, or the sofa?”

Erywin stood next to her luggage. “Doesn’t matter to me; you can sleep where you want.”

Kerry was about to ask where Erywin was going to sleep when Annie was next to him, touching his arm. “Dear, she means that’s our room.”

“There are times when your significant other is far smarter than you, Clever Boy.” Helena indicated the bedroom behind her. “Adults are in here, and children—” She pointed to the open doorway behind Annie and Kerry. “—are in there.” She tilted her head slightly to the left. “Unless there’s a reason you two can’t be trusted alone for the evening.”

Annie glommed onto Kerry’s arm. “No, ‘Mama’. You can trust us.”

“Good. Here are the rules: that door stays closed when we are separated. If you want to come in and speak to us, knock and we’ll answer. Same goes for you: we’ll knock and wait for you to let us in—”

“However, if you don’t open the door—” Erywin smirked. “—we might have to come in and see if you need . . . assistance.”

Helena nodded. “Don’t leave by way of your hallway door; all comings and goings are through our door. Oh, and if you feel the need to raid the mini bar go ahead: someone else is paying the bill.” She held up an admonishing finger. “No room service. If you want something, let us know.” She waved them away. “Okay, go unpack and get ready. We’ll let you know when we’re ready to go.”

 

Helena–I mean, Auntie Brenda–is being pretty trusting letting the kids share the same room, what with those visions of wedding nights they’ve seen and the raging hormones they both have.  But, I mean, come on:  Erywin and Kerry sharing a room?  Not gonna happen.  And they would probably be a battle if Helena and Annie were sleeping together . . .  At this place and time Helena is quite aware that these two sack out during the Midnight Madness all the time, and chances are she’s aware they’ve spent a night or two–or more–down on the commons sofa.

Beside, if you don’t think Helena doesn’t have a spell up her sleeve that would keep them apart, you don’t know her like I do.  And seeing as how I created here, you don’t know her like I do.

The kids will be fine.  I mean, there are separate sleeping arrangements in these suites–

 

Kerry followed Annie into the other room and closed the door behind him. He scanned the living area of the identical suite, but said nothing for a few seconds as he considered his next words. “Well, um, I could—”

Annie turned her head and gave Kerry her best cold stare. “If you are even considering the idea the sleeping on the sofa, I won’t speak to you for the rest of the weekend.” She walked smartly towards the bedroom entrance and stopped just before heading inside. “Come along, my love: let’s unpack and get ready dinner.”

Kerry closed his eyes as he shook his head as little as possible as a huge grin spread across his face. “Coming, Sweetie.”

 

And . . . you can forget about that sofa, Captain Clueless.  What Annie wants, Annie gets, and what she wants is for you to be sleeping right next to her.

Why, it’s almost like being married . . .