Setting Sail: Casting Off Lines

I’ve written a whole lot about my kid’s relationship over the last two-and-a-half years, and now . . . well, it seems as if it’s really coming to a head right here and now in this part of the second novel.  They’ve had a difficult time of things over the last almost two years of their existence, which kinda sucks when you realized they’re finally getting ready to start out as teenagers.  At least it seems like they coming into the world as a couple of bad ass witches, but you know what happens when someone thinks you’re a bad ass, don’t you?

So now the day winds down, and remember this is still the same day that started in Chapter Twenty-seven with Kerry screaming his butt off in the middle of the night.  It’s night once more, and the scene is set to get them back to the point they were almost twenty-four hours earlier.  But, as they poem goes, they have miles to go before they sleep.  Well, maybe not miles:  probably more like a kilometer of walking ahead of them–

 

All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015, 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)

The walk from the Instructor’s Residence towards the Great Hall was covered mostly in silence. Annie suspected that the main reason was due to Kerry’s habit of taking a lot of information and falling into deep introspection . . .

After Deanna’s comment about their lifeline remaining in place until the time of one or both of their deaths, The Phoenix said her goodbyes and returned the library space to the physical realm. Coraline then sat them down and told Kerry some specifics about what they knew of the gift—which they learned was not a great deal—and that The Foundation would likely ask for medical examinations while Kerry was in school, as, it turned out, no one had ever discovered someone with the Bigender Gift at his age.

After Coraline was finished speaking Deanna had a few words concerning the children’s astral bonding. She explained that while they had likely developed a natural empathy for each other’s feelings, the bonding helped amplify that and other emotions. She emphasized that the bonding wasn’t the reason they loved each other—that had occurred well before they knew it existed, after all—but just as with their empathy, their feelings of love for each other wouldn’t allow them to feel the same way for another person, ever.

As Deanna put it, they could date others, marry others, even engage in sexual relationships with others, but any feelings of love and affection they might develop for those people would be, as she puts it, nothing but shadowy reflection of what they feel for each other.

It was as Annie had always expected: she could never love anyone as much as she loved Kerry. Nor would she ever try . . .

Coraline sent them back to the hospital, informing them that they could have Nurse Gretchen order them a night snack from the kitchen while they prepared to spend another night, and that she’d be along as soon as she finished business with the headmistress and the others. It was from that point on, as they walked back to the Pentagram, through the Walls and into the Garden, that Kerry remained quiet, completely engrossed in his thoughts.

 

There you go:  you’re never gonna feel the same way for someone else, you’re never going to love them the way you love each other, and even if you decide to have sexual partners other than each other, it’s going to leave you feeling empty.  There really isn’t any upside to fooling around outside this relationship, cause everything either my kids would experience would be, as Deanna says, “nothing but shadowy reflection of what they feel for each other.”

Hummm . . . there’s a world I’m looking for here.  Well, not so much word as phrase.  Yeah:  “Soul mates”.  They really are that no matter what anyone else might think.  And, of course, that’s likely on Kerry’s mind right about now–

 

They were a few steps from the inner wall door when Annie leaned into Kerry, wrapping herself against his left arm. “You’re quiet.”

He glanced over, nodding. “Well, yeah.”

“I hope you’re not bothered by anything that we learned tonight.”

A few moments passed before Kerry began smiling as he allowed a low chuckle to emerge. “Nah, I’m not. I mean—” He shook his head as the smile grew wider. “There isn’t a whole lot I could do about it if I was, right?”

Annie regarded him carefully. He’s not acting sad or sarcastic; he’s stating a fact, and he’s comfortable saying it aloud. “That is true. There’s nothing either of us could do.”

They walked a few more steps before Kerry found his voice again. “What do you think The Foundation is going to do with me?”

Annie redoubled her hold on his hand. “Coraline said she was going to do everything to keep your examinations unobtrusive and your direct contact with The Foundation limited. I don’t seen her going back on her word.”

“I don’t, either. I just don’t want—”

“To become a lab rat?” She used the same phrase he had back in the library when voicing his concerns about the medical examinations. “She won’t allow that to happen.”

He looked straight ahead as he nodded. “You’re right.” He looked off to his right and into the garden as he drew in a breath. “So you’re stuck with me.”

 

Kerry’s had a lot of shit dumped on him in the last hour or so, and it would likely weigh heavy on the mind of any twelve year old a few weeks from this thirteenth birthday.  But when your girlfriend is the Bulgarian Pop Princess, she’s gonna remind you of something in your past that will lead her to dropping a major truth bomb on your butt:

 

She rested her head lightly against his shoulder for a moment as something he said in his dream encounter with his female self came back. That moment is still bothering him—but I know how to put him at ease . . . Annie walked upright, slowly swinging their arms as they made their way down the covered walkway. “When we were in Kansas City last year, on our first night together in our room, do you remember what you said to me while we were sitting on the bed?”

He watched her out of the corner of his eye. “Are you going to call me?”

“No, silly.” Annie laughed as she cheerfully slapped his arm, remembering how enchanted he appeared while she sang along to Call Me Maybe. “After that.”

“I know.” He didn’t have to spend time remembering that night. “I said I was probably the only eleven year old boy in America sitting on a bed with the twelve year old girl that was probably going to be his wife one day.”

She turned her head his way. “That’s correct. Do you remember what you said when I asked if you were happy with that?”

“I said I was happy with the idea, and I still am.”

“I see.” Annie looked down the path as she slowed their pace. “Do you know what I’m thinking right this moment?”

Kerry shook his head. “No, what?”

She pulled him to a stop near the end of the covered walkway, right in front of the bench they’d come to call their own, and turned so they faced each other. “That I’m the only thirteen year old girl in America walking along on a cool March night holding hands with her twelve year old husband.” She nodded her head towards the bench, now on her left. “Can we sit for a moment?”

Kerry seemed neither shocked or confused. “Sure.”

 

First you’re set up with the, “Remember when I sang Call Me Maybe and then jumped into bed with you?” line, and then down comes the hammer:  “Did I mention you’re my husband?”  Sure, Kerry doesn’t appear worried or shocked, but still . . .

"We're not going to discuss what we're going to name our kids, are we?"  "No, my love.  Not yet."

“We’re not going to discuss what we’re going to name our kids, are we?” “No, my love. Not yet.”

But as the post title indicates, the mooring lines are being cast off–

You know what’s coming next.

Teardrops and Titillations

Over the weekend I came to the realization about something in my stories.  It’s nothing major, but . . . I’m probably going to have to remove the song lyrics used in both novels, only because I likely will not be able to afford the rights to use them.  A lot of times you can get permission from the artist for their lyrics, but it’s also true that a lot of time the songs aren’t owned by the artist and are instead owned by someone who’s gonna say, “Sure, go ahead and use the song, Cassie,” but rather, “Where’s my money, bitch?”  It’s not a big deal–there are only four locations–but one of them is for a great scene that I’ll have to butcher just a little to make work.

I shouldn’t complain too much:  I’d probably go after fan fiction writers, or maybe not.  Haven’t decided on that yet.  I guess I need someone to do fan fiction first.

So, back to the airport and the gift Kerry gave.  He’s really free with the presents to Annie–so far two birthday gifts, one “Our First Meeting” gift, and now a Christmas gift.  Is he setting himself up for the time when he has to hear, “Remember when you gave me a charm bracelet for our First Meeting Anniversary?  Yeah, what ever happened to that guy?” followed by some mumbling in Bulgarian.  That will never happen, because Annie doesn’t expect gifts–that’s pretty much a given.  And as we see here . . .

 

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

Annie attempted a disapproving look, but the best she could manage was a half-smile. “We agreed we wouldn’t exchange Yule presents.”

“Yeah, well . . .” Kerry held out the present. “You can yell at me later.”

“Then I should see why I need to yell—” She carefully unwrapped the package, only to find a smaller wrapped box inside. She unwrapped this box as carefully as the first and discovered the contents to be a small, felt-covered box. “More jewelry, I see.”

“I once heard a girl can’t have too much jewelry.” He smiled. “But this is a little different.”

“Oh?” She popped open the box and discovered a pair of earrings: dark blue stones within a silver teardrop setting. “Kerry . . .”

He sat still, smiling back. “Am I gonna get yelled at still?”

 

No, you’re not gonna get yelled at, Ginger Hair Boy.  Not one bit.  And what are they?

 

“I don’t—” She removed one earring from the box and held it up to the light. “Kerry, are these . . ?” She set it back in the box. “They’re sapphires, aren’t they?”

“Yeah.” He nodded slowly. “I wanted to get you something with your birth stone.”

She stared into the box. “They’re beautiful. But—”

“I know I shouldn’t say this, but I didn’t spend a lot. I mean, I saw a few that were over a thousand pounds, but you’d have had a fit if I got those.”

“You’re right: I would.”

“I was going to get you lapis lazuli earrings because they’re also a September birth stone in the UK, but when I saw there wasn’t that much of a different in price, I went with the sapphires.” He tilted his head to the left as he admired Annie. “And I think teardrops suit you: nice looking without being too ostentatious.”

 

Sapphire earrings.  Kinda like–

Well, like these.  But with silver.

Well, like these. But with silver.

Yeah, what’s your twelve year old boyfriend gotten you lately?  A Starbucks drink?  It helps that Kerry has a bit of money to spend, and it should get pointed out now:  he’s not spent much on himself.  The big ticket items have been for Annie, and he’s figured not to spend that much.  He does point out that he had help buying them–he had Erywin and Helena jaunt him over to England one Friday when Annie was flying with Isis–and that he bought them in November.  And there’s a reason for that–

 

“Sneaky.” She crossed her arms across her body and sat back. “These aren’t the sort of earrings you wear every day.”

“No, they’re not. I figured they were something you could wear for special occasions—like Ostara, the Samhain Dance—”

“Going out to dinner with my parents at Yule?” Annie brightened the table with her smile.

Kerry nodded as he fidgeted with his tea cup. “Something like that.”

“Why didn’t you give them to me before we parted for the holidays?”

“Because . . .” He blushed once again. “I wanted to be the first to see them on you.”

He knows they’re not for everyday, but the idea that he wanted to be the first to see her wear them–that’s really sort of sweet and kind.  And Annie not only obliges, but brings up something else–

 

“You did? Hummm . . .” She removed her gold studs and replaced them with Kerry’s gift. Annie brushed her hair back so the earrings caught the light better. “How do they look?”

“Beautiful. Just like you.” He snapped a picture with his phone and passed it to Annie. “See?”

She scrutinized the photo, touching her earrings as she admired how they appeared. “You’re right: these are for special occasions—” Annie returned the phone. “Like returning home together.”

“You mean Salem home?”

“Do we have another at this point?” She crossed her legs. “You’ve given me a locket, a bracelet, and earrings as gifts—what’s next? A ring?” She held up her right hand and wiggled her fingers.  “Like—?”

“Umm . . .” Kerry tried not to show surprise, but given what Annie insinuated, he couldn’t help but feel a bit shocked. “We’re still kinda young for that, aren’t we?”

“Just a little.” Annie giggled as she leaned forward so she could speak softly. “My parents would have a fit if I were to become engaged now—even if I explained it was because we did see ourselves getting married.” She lay her right hand over Kerry’s left. “Besides, when the time comes for that, I want something far more special—”

“What’s that?”

“An Astral Etching.” She slowly rubbed Kerry’s hand. “My Mama and Papa both have them.”

Simple based upon the name Kerry was able to piece together an idea of what Annie meant. “Sound interesting.”

“And beautiful, because you created them—”

 

And here we have it:  the ring thing is finally mentioned, and Kerry isn’t so clueless that he doesn’t know what she’s talking about.  Annie is also smart enough to know that were she to come home that summer–at thirteen–wearing an engagement ring, there would be hell to pay.  Her parents would flip and she knows it.  We won’t even talk about Kerry’s parents . . .

But here’s something being mentioned for the first time:  an Astral Etching.  In time you’re going to find out exactly what those are, but for now it’s sort of left hanging.  However, like Kerry you can probably figure out what they are, and given that both her parents have them, it’s likely something engaged and married couples share.  And yes:  you’ll get to see one eventually.

But when all else is said for this scene, it’s Annie who finally drops the mic in a big way . . .

 

Just then the airport public address system sounded to let everyone know an announcement was forthcoming. “Ihre Aufmerksamkeit, bitte. Wird Herr und Frau Malibey bitte an der Kasse melden? Ihr Flug wird bald verlassen. Danke.” The message repeated in English. “Your attention, please. Will Mr. and Mrs. Malibey please report to the ticket counter? Your flight is departing soon. Thank you.”

Kerry continued looked upward for a few seconds after the announcement completed. He slowly lowered his gaze towards a smiling Annie. “Mr. And Mrs. Malibey?”

Annie quickly stood, pushing her chair back in. “I had to leave a message for when it was time to leave, and I wanted something that would catch our attention.” She took Kerry’s hand after his chair was in place. “We’ll be leaving in about twenty minutes.  Shall we?”

“Coming, Darling.” He walked with Annie, left hand in right, heading for the escalators that would lead them to Level 1, and the stairs there that would take them under the airport and to the jaunt station. He looked out through the Level windows at the tarmac beyond and spoke in a broad English accent. “Yes, sir, going home—” He raised Annie’s hand to his lips for a kiss. “Going home.”

 

There, she went and did it:  Mr. and Mrs. Malibey.  Over the loudspeakers.  In an international airport.  For all to hear.

"Attention, please.  Will the young man running screaming through the concourse please report to the Information Desk.  Your Wife-to-Be is waiting for you."

“Attention, please. Will the young man running screaming through the concourse please report to the Information Desk. Your Wife-to-Be is waiting for you.”

Good think Kerry loves Annie, or he would get . . . worried.

But they are finally going “home”.  And they’ll be there for almost the rest of the novel.  Where only good things will happen to them–

Right?

Willkommen in Wien: Vater Themen

And just like that, Chapter Seventeen is half over.  Four nights of averaging about seven hundred and eighty words each night brought the scene to an end, and now I can move on to the kids finally arriving home.

This has been an interesting scene, because it’s nothing like I originally envisioned it in the beginning, which was just Kerry coming back with Annie and then both of them realizing they’d been seen arriving holding hands, which of course gets all sorts of things going in Daddy’s mind.  Here I went more into an explanation of what’s going on, and, like below, some of the implications of what this all means.  Like . . .

 

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

“It’s obvious you don’t have a sibling.” Bernice settled back in her chair and crossed her legs. “If you had a sister, you might have noticed how your father acts differently around her.”

He stopped tapping the chair’s arms and sunk down in the seat. “It’s just the way he was looking at me—like there was something wrong with me.”

She chuckled. “Don’t take it personally. That attitude goes all the way back to the days when it was considered part of the father’s duty to guard their daughter’s virginity.”

Kerry was aware of this being a standard in some cultures even today, and her found it as ridiculous as Ms. Rutherford seemed to make it appear. “That’s dumb.”

“It is, but . . .” She glanced towards the lounge entrance. “You have to realize something, Kerry. I’m somewhat aware of the deepness of your relationship with Annie—I know that Annie almost didn’t attend Salem because you wanted to stay in Europe and look for you when she got older—and I’m certain her mother know how deep it runs as well. It’s even possible Annie has said things to her mother about your relationship that it only know to her and you.

“When it comes to the father, he may not know the depth of your feelings for each other, but he’s aware it exists. He knows Annie has feelings for you, and you for her. When he saw you today, he didn’t see a young boy holding hands with this daughter—” She tapped her finger in the air in Kerry’s direction. “He sees a potential suitor for his little girl.”

 

All of a sudden Kerry is getting hit over the head with being a husband and, as we’ll see, something else.  It’s something that no twelve year old kids under normal circumstances ever deal with, but we all know Kerry is far from normal . . .

 

The moment Ms. Rutherford finished her statement Kerry began wondering just how much she actually knew about Annie and his relationship. There were only a few people who knew of the vision they shared, and while he was certain that Annie’s mother didn’t know about their vision, he was aware she’d seen his name in Annie’s wedding book. She knows Annie is serious about me, about what she wants to do. Her dad has to feel we’re not just a couple of kids holding hands. “He automatically knows I’m gonna marry Annie in the future?”

Bernice kept her face impassive, but she caught the way Kerry phrased his statement: Not “If I” but “I’m gonna marry”. He’s completely sure of where their relationship is going— “I’m sure he’s discussed you with Annie’s mother, and I’d venture that he was sizing you up as more to Annie than a boyfriend. He knows his daughter—”

“And what Annie wants, Annie gets.” Kerry chuckled. “First time I’ve said that.”

“Really?” Bernice chuckled with him. “The thing to keep in mind here, Kerry, is that all fathers are usually a bit unsettled by their daughter’s boyfriends. They know they have the potential to become their husbands, and because they were once some girl’s boyfriend who then became their husband. And it doesn’t take them long to understand why their father-in-law was so unsettled by them, because they also waited for their daughters to tell them the one phrase they didn’t want to hear—”

“What’s that?” He couldn’t imagine Annie’s father being that upset by anything Annie would tell him . . . “’I’m getting married’?”

“No: ‘I’m pregnant’.”

 

Yeah, just keep hammering home those little witches waiting in the wings!  The one’s who’ll have either red or chestnut hair and will get practice brooms when they’re five or six and ride around behind Mama and Papa in the yard, or maybe even down at Grandma’s and Grandpa’s big yard in Bulgaria, and then grow up and go to Salem and see pictures of their parents kissing two miles up in the air and hear the stories about how all they did was snog and eeeewwwwwww . . .

Really, these kids will, at some point, have to live down the fact that their parents were a couple of Tweenage Horndogs when they got to school, and other’s might wonder if they’ll follow in their footsteps.  When they’re not following in Mama’s Murder Time skills . . .

 

Those two words froze Kerry’s train of though. The thoughts of marriage didn’t bother him: after reconciling Annie’s vision with his, and continuing the discussion to where they would start their home after the wedding, this was the second time in twelve hours he was reminded that their was another responsibility that came with getting married and making a home for each other. Annie said she already carried our children, and now Ms. Rutherford is saying her dad is living with the knowledge that those kids are coming–

He shook his head. “I’m not ready to think about this stuff now.”

“I don’t blame you.” Bernice checked her watch. “It’s been about fifteen minutes; I figure Annie and her parents are back in Bulgaria about now.”

“I think so, too.” He stood and checked that his backpack was firmly secured around his handle of his roll-on bag. “I’m ready.”

“Good.” Bernice grabbed her bag and secured it tightly on her shoulder. “Feel like a light late lunch? I know a place here in Vienna that serves the most wonderful sandwiches.”

Knowing that he’d likely have nothing but take away or leftovers when he arrived home, Kerry liked her suggestion. “Dining in Vienna . . . sounds good to me.”

 

Ms. Rutherford knows her charge, and knows he’ll probably get crap for dinner when he gets home.  It must be nice to get a late lunch in Vienna after coming home from school with your girlfriend.  At least someone’s looking out for this kid.

Here we now are:

Half way done; half way there.

Half way done; half way there.

And if the titles of the remaining scenes are any indication–along with the times–I think we can say the kids get home in one piece . . .

Along the Scenic Dreamways

Trying morning today because stupid computer is being a pain in the butt, but I may have tamed the beast.  Maybe.  I’ll find out in a bit, I guess, but it’s likely it’ll keep frustrating me for another hour or so.

This was so unlike yesterday, which was nice and sunny and warranted getting out of the apartment and doing a little shopping.  The shopping part sucked a lot when it came to finding shoes, as none of these damn stores carry anything in an woman’s 11 wide, so I’m pretty much wasting my time going in there to look.  Note to DSW:  you lost out on about a hundred dollars of sales yesterday because you continue to think everyone has a narrow foot.  Get with the times, loser.

But the trip out to Lancaster was fantastic, and it was the first time in a long time I was flying down the road with the windows down–

And I actually had hair for the wind to blow through.

And I actually had hair for the wind to blow through.

'It's a town full of losers, I'm pulling out of here to win."  Now all I gotta do is find my Mary.

‘It’s a town full of losers, I’m pulling out of here to win.” Now all I gotta do is find my Mary.

I should point out that those pictures above were taken with a mobile phone while I was traveling  at 70 mph/110 kph, while traveling in a straight line with no one near me.  Don’t try that at home, kids, unless you’re professional.  Like me.

I also managed to catch the first episode of Season 3 of Orphan Black, which was amazing as always, and made me feel sad for some of the seestras.  Why do they torture my poor clone girls?  Oh, wait:  I do that to my characters, too.

Speaking of which . . . I wrote.  I ended up producing fifteen hundred and fifty words, and finished the dream scene I’d started the other day.  Remember how I said I’d likely end up with ten thousand words written after the first week?

Yes, I believe I said I'd do that.

Yes, I believe I said I’d do that.

I believe I left my kids in a hotel room in dreamland, and . . . well, let’s see what happened next.

 

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

“Obviously.” Annie swung her legs to the floor, stood, and made her way to the red curtains on Kerry’s side of the room. She spread the curtains, exposing the balcony beyond the closed French doors. “Look out here.” She opened the doors and stepped out on to the open space beyond the bedroom.

The balcony was large enough for two people to sit close using one of the small chairs set in the far corners. The space between allowed that same couple to stand close together—something that Annie and Kerry were used to doing. The both leaned upon the railing and examined their surroundings.

They were on the second floor of their hotel; there was another floor above them. Their balcony overlooked a large, enclosed courtyard mostly covered in shadow at the moment. The courtyard was empty, as were all the remaining balconies for the other rooms. All of the balcony doors were closed and the curtains drawn.

They were the only ones here; the only ones present within their private universe.

 

Most of the time they are alone, but like a lot of dreams, they also get instances where they are in a crowd with other people.  Not this time, however.  And there’s something else–

 

Annie looked up to the cloudless, slate gray sky. “This feels like we’re in Europe.”

“I think so, too.” Kerry laid his hand over Annie’s. “It’s the way this place looks. It doesn’t seem like it’s in England, though—” He looked to the girl at his left. “Probably mainland.”

“I agree.” She twisted her right hand around and grasped Kerry’s. “It’s lovely, wherever we are.”

“It does feel like a real place—” He smiled. “Doesn’t it?”

“It does. It also feels—”

“Like it’s not a real dream?”

“Yes.”

Kerry searched his memory for any mention of instances where more than one person shared a dream vision. The books he’d read all thought his A Levels were thorough, but given that after his own experiences with dream visions, he’d gone over those chapters again before returning the books to the library . . .

He looked around as he sighed. “This is not happened before.” He looked over his shoulder into the room. “But you’re right: it feels more like something that’s going to happen to us instead of the last couple of dreams.”

Annie turned around, leaning against the railing as she peered into the room. “We should leave the room and see if there’s anything there.”

 

We know they’ve had the same vision, but they weren’t in it together at the same time–which may have been a bit strange if they had, and . . . we won’t go there.  Oh, and as an aside:  one day I will explain what Kerry’s first vision means, and why they had the same vision months apart.  Because I always figure those things out.

Eventually they leave the room, but what they find isn’t what they expect . . .

 

“Thank you.” She headed straight for the door with Kerry close behind. She designed an image in her mind of walking through the door and out onto the south deck of her lake house, a place Kerry had yet to see in their dreams. She opened the door, but rather than finding a hallway—or the deck she visualized—there was a sunny, tree-lined yard beyond. She stepped through the door and into the yard, walking about four meters before she stopped to examined their surroundings. “This was not what I wanted—or what I expected.”

Kerry began walking around in circles, looking at everything. “What did you want?”

“The deck of my lake house.”

“I don’t see a lake—” He pointed from where they’d just entered this area. “—and given what you’ve told me, I don’t think this is your house.”

Annie turned and gave a slight gasp when she saw the house. “No, it’s not, but . . . I know this place.” She turned to Kerry. “It’s my grandparent’s house in France.”

Kerry well remembered Annie describing her time this house, located outside the town of Pocancy, in the Champagne region. She’d told him about her time there during a lull in their Guardian field operation, as well as telling him of another dream of hers . . . “This is pretty nice. I like the yard.”

“I love having trees around a house.” She did a slow pirouette, taking in the grounds. “I haven’t thought about this in some time.”

 

Some of us remember the discussion about the house in France, which sort of morphed into a discussion about Annie wanting to live there one day–and not by herself.  As they walk through their dreamscape out to the dreamroad, the conversation turns back to that discussion, and the implications of what it means, and Kerry has to state the obvious . . .

 

Kerry noticed the use of the plural right away. “So this is where our house will be after we marry?”

Annie glanced out of the corner of her eye. “No: this is where we’ll make our home.” They stopped a couple of meters short of the road, with the gray, sunless sky beaming down on them. “Do you remember what else I said to you when we were on our field operation?”

There were a number of things Kerry recalled discussing while they were in Kansas City, but given their location, and Annie’s references, it wasn’t difficult to understand what she wanted him to remember. “What we talked about in our dream.”

“Yes. What we discussed outside your house in California.” She turned to him, never letting go of his hand. “You’ve lived in two houses, but you’ve never had a home.” She glanced at the ground for a moment. “That’s not completely true: you’ve had one near home—”

He was curious about this last statement. “Where?”

 

Yeah, where Annie?

 

“At the school—at Salem.” She slipped closer. “Do you know why? Because there you find love.” Annie held Kerry’s hand tight. “There is Vicky and Wednesday; there is Deanna and Coraline; there is Erywin and Helena.” She pressed herself against Kerry. “And I am there, above them all: your soul mate, the one who loves you most.

“I told you in our dream that a home is made of love, which is why you’ve never had a home. You have lived in California and you live in Cardiff, and while you have had some love in your live, you’ve never found in where you live. Your parents say they love you, but they don’t show it, they don’t offer the affection you require.

“I know this because I’ve been with you almost as long as they, and I know your wants, your dreams, your desires.” She kissed him, holding it for what seemed like forever. “We will marry—” Annie pressed her fingers against Kerry’s lips. “I know we are not supposed to speak of this, but here we are allowed to dream, are we not?

“We will marry, and we have a home. Maybe here, maybe in America, maybe in Bulgaria. I don’t care, as long as we are together. We will make that our home, because we will find love there. And we will say that to each other, every day, as I said I would do to you—and as I know you do for me.” She told both of his hands in hers and pressed them between their bodies. “Even when I can’t hear the words, I know you say them.”

He nodded slowly. “Every morning, and every evening. From now—”

“—Until the day you die?”

Kerry took a slight breath, ready to say the truth he’d held inside for many months now. “Until the day one of us dies.” He pressed his head against her shoulder. “That’s my promise.”

Annie held him against her. “I’ll hold you to that, love.”

 

Annie is not scared that talking about The Big M might be jinxing them in some way.  She doesn’t care;  she’s twelve, she’s a witch, she’s a hell of a sorceress who’s already racked up a body count, and she wants to give Kerry the love and affection tell him his parent are incapable of giving.  It’s likely she understands this last because she’s heard Kerry speak of it enough that it’s become as much a part of here as it is him.

And Kerry is right there, promising to tell his Sweetie that he loves her every day . . . until one of them die.  Yeah, a few people are going to read that line and say, “That could be tomorrow!” and start clutching pearls.  He’s also twelve, just a quarter year into that age, hanging out in a dream with a girl he’s known most of his life, and while he admitted last year that it’s possible they could die at any time, he’s now pushing that thought aside.  After all, Kerry’s been in the “I’ve cheated death” position three time in the last year, so he’s also developing that feeling kids his age get where they think nothing is going to happen to them.

Besides, His Dark Witch is gonna teach him to get those Morte spells up to speed while he teaches her to be a shapeshifter.  These kids got life by the ass right now–

Then again, if anyone believes that, they’re likely in the market to buy a bridge.

Thoughts of the Moya Spŭtniks

It sounds like it should be the title of an The Americans episode, and could be some day, but it’s really all about my kids and their relaxation by the pond.  Not the Amy Pond, which would probably follow them home if they asked it to come along, but the Pearl Hill one, which is going to stay right where it is for a few thousand more years, I’d expect.

Last night I managed almost as much writing in two hours as I had in the last two days.  Then again, it was Wednesday, which is my normal writing night, and thought I wasn’t at Panera–I stayed home due to the weather–I managed to get out the words.  Because it’s Wednesday, and I should have been wearing pink.  Perhaps.

This scene has probably went through more gyrations in the last three days any just about any other.  I started out wanting to write one thing, then began to drift off in another directions towards another line of thought, and finally ended up with the thirteen hundred words I did last night.  And what did my kids talk about?  A little bit of everything, as you’ll see.  That’s how writing is some days:  you think you’re going one way, and you sort of end up the other.

Let’s pick up where we were yesterday . . .

 

All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, 2015 by Cassidy Frazee)

Right now it was streaming Annie’s favorite music channel with the volume set where it could be heard without being overwhelming. She looked down at the display. “I knew your birthday present would come in handy one day.” She chuckled while snuggling back into Kerry’s arms.

He glanced down at the tablet and smiled. “It came in handy on the way out here—navigation and music, all in one.”

“You didn’t need it to get us out here.”

“But it was nice being able to fly to Wind and Wuthering.”

Annie grinned as she remembered back to the beginning of their flight where Kerry asked if he could play one of his favorite pieces, and once it started there was the strange orchestral sound at the beginning of the first song—he said it came from a mellotron, similar to the one Professor Ellison played for them that first week in the Auditorium’s Keyboard Room—seemed to set their mood as they floated away from Cape Ann on their way to Ipswich. The album was also long enough that it played nearly the entire way to Pearl Hill. “It was nice.” She squeezed his hands close to her heart. “So nice.”

 

Kerry finally dipped into his old classic songs, and what Annie heard was this:

Not only one of Kerry’s favorite pieces, by mine as well, and I still remember hearing this on the radio when I was a teenager.  But we’re not talking abut me, we’re talking about the kids, and there is something on their minds.

 

He sighed and stared off across the still water of the pond. “Are you thinking about next week at all?”

Annie slowly closed her eyes and paused her thoughts for a moment before answering. “It’s all I’ve been thinking about.”

“Me, too.” He once more rested his head against hers. “This time next week we’ll be at our own homes.”

“I would invite you home, but I don’t think I could keep you hidden forever in the lake house.” She chuckled. “Mama would know anyway, and she’d tell my father. And your parents would wonder where you went.”

“Don’t bet on it.” Kerry didn’t want to bring up his home life, so he pushed that aside. “Are we going to be able to keep in touch?”

“I’m sure we will.” The subject came up in the last Madness Friday night, and she mentioned that she didn’t own either a mobile or a computer, and she wasn’t certain she could get the use of her mother’s laptop to be able to speak with Kerry over the Internet. “I do believe my mother would object if I bought a computer and then spent all day long using it to speak to you.”

“We wouldn’t do that.”

“Really?” She looked up and back, finding it difficult not to laugh. “You know we would, love. It’s all we do now when we have free time.” She rolled her shoulders, getting settled. “And free time is all we’ll have during summer holiday.”

 

There have been questions about Annie having access to devices that would connect her to Kerry during the summer, but I think, once the next novel in this line comes up–What?  I’m talking about more novels?–it’ll be easy to see why Annie isn’t getting to computers and phones and the such.  Part of the issues right now is that Annie isn’t in control of her money, so she has to go through her parents to get something that’s big ticket.  And that might not always be easy–or wanted.  Then again, you never know.  One day she’ll have her own computer and she can chat up Kerry all she wants . . .

"I wonder if I can run a spell through here and find out if he's called that ginger bitch from Bolder.  Hum . . ."

“I wonder if I can run a spell through here and find out if he’s Skyped that ginger bitch from Bolder. Hum . . .”

Stop it, Annie.

And the funniest things happen when they’re not talking about being home for summer–

 

The quiet once more settled over the shore as they sat and enjoyed their closeness. Annie stretched out her legs and began rhythmical tapping her feet together as she leaned back into her soul mate. “I could stay here all day.”

“And we just might.” Kerry chuckled. “Not like you can hike in sandals.”

“I’m not in a hiking mood; we do enough walking at school. And I like wearing sandals when it gets warm: I love the feel of the air on my bare feet.” She patted his thigh. “I should get you a pair.”

“I’m not a sandals sort of guy.” He shook his head. “I have ugly feet.”

“I can give you a pedicure—”

Kerry gently messed Annie’s hair. “Get out of here.” He laughed, pulled her back in his arms, and gave her a long, soft, comforting kiss. “You’re not doing my nails.”

“There’s more to it than just polishing your nails.” She reached up and kiss his nose. “I’ll show you one day.”

“I’m sure you will.” He stared into her eyes, relaxing into her gaze. “When would be the soonest we could get married?”

 

Okay, Kerry:  where did that come from?  First you’re talking about Annie’s choice of footwear–and she does usually wear only sandals during the summer, and switches over once the weather changes–to laughing about pedicures–and get one Kerry, they’re totally nice–to “When can we get married?”  Yeah, even Annie didn’t see this coming . . .

 

Annie’s eyes widened in shock; this was the last question she expected. “Are you serious?”

Kerry nodded. “I’ve been thinking about our vision when I go to bed—”

“We said we wouldn’t.”

“I know, but—” He shrugged once. “Can’t help it. I remember how we looked in it and I wondered just how young we were . . .” He averted his gaze for a moment. “It’s why I ask.”

Annie rested against Kerry’s leg, propping herself upon her elbow. “Age of Emancipation is eighteen. That way you get six years of school and one year of Life Experience out of the way before you take your place in The Foundation, or go back to school if you’re invited into a Continuing Education Program.” She rolled on to her back, using Kerry’s thigh as a pillow. “It would have to come after you turn eighteen, which means it would be the summer after our Life Experience year together.”

Kerry immediately picked up on the Annie’s last word. “We’ll do it together?”

“I wouldn’t have it any other way, love.”

He lightly traced circles on Annie’s forehead and in her hair. “You think that’s when the vision happened?”

“I know it does. I have it written in my book that I want a June wedding.” She folded her hands across her stomach. “Right before summer begins. And given how we looked in the vision, I’d said that it probably happens the June after you turn eighteen.” She reached up and touched his cheek. “I wouldn’t want to wait.”

Kerry nodded slowly. “I don’t think I’d want to either.”

 

Kids talk about the damnedest things, but this is one for the books–or at least this book–and it even surprises Annie.  One at least discovers that she’s thinking to the year they spend after graduation from Salem, when they’re allowed to “walk the Earth”, more or less, and experience new things.  Kerry isn’t thinking about that, at least not directly.  And he does find out that, yes, Annie expects them to spend that year together, and that she knows the time of year when her wedding will take place.

It would seem that Kerry can’t get the maybe pending nuptials out of his head.  After all, it’s been a strange year:  you find out you’re a witch, that you do magic, that you’re also a sorceress, that you have to defend your school and fight monsters and kill bad guys, that you get sent out to fight more bad guys, and you rediscover your lost love who was always right in front of you and whom you’d fallen in love with again.  And that you’re getting married to her, because you both had a vision.

Pretty normal for this joint, but strange outside the walls.

 

A slight smile began to spread across Annie’s face. “We aren’t suppose to talk about this—”

“I know: the more you try to make a vision happen, the less likely it will.”

“And we’re talking about something that won’t happen for six years at the soonest.”

Kerry looked up and sighed. “I know.”

“But—”

“Yes?”

“That doesn’t keep me from thinking about us there, either.” She kissed the index and middle fingers of her right hand, then lightly pressed them against Kerry’s lips. “Obicham te, moya spŭtnik.”

Kerry did the same to Annie with his left hand. “Obicham te, moya spŭtnik.” He allowed his fingers to linger upon her face. “One day we won’t be apart when summer comes.”

“No.” Annie’s smile broadened. “We won’t.”

 

And ending it that way, with hope, was a lot better than ending it with depression over not being able to see each other.

Because . . . that’s still coming.

It can’t be avoided.

Champagne Dreams

Yes, the post is getting out a little late this morning, but only because I just finished writing fourteen hundred words to finish up a scene I started last night.  And seeing how I said yesterday that it’s one with Annie and Kerry, some of you are probably wondering about the title of the post.  Trust me, they’re not getting hammered on Korbel when they should be spying on Tanith.  The title refers to something else.  But of course it does.

We jump ahead a few hours and we’re outside Tanith’s school.  Someone else is there, too . . .

 

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

Kerry sat with his back against the tree truck, keeping it between him and the steady wind coming out of the north. He’d pulled up his hood and keep his hands in his pockets trying to remain comfortable, and found he was succeeding marvelously. Once more he was happy he’d packed the microfleece hoodie his grandparent gave him for Christmas, because not only was it warm, but it had enough internal pockets to hold some of the devices he was using for this operation.

He was sitting on the front lawn of Lincoln Preparatory Academy waiting for his partner in crime to join him outside. While he’d waited for a delivery from Erywin, Annie was busy following Tanith and waiting for the right moment to secure another tag on her so she’d be easier to track with his tablet. She’d said she’d likely have an easier time of placing a tag on her, and he didn’t disagree: after all, if Tanith noticed a boy following her—tagging her with an enchantment wasn’t something they could do while bending light around them, not yet—she’d probably think it a little strange.

So he went outside to wait for his phony mother while also waiting for his real girlfriend . . .

 

The thing that comes from this is there’s a lot of waiting going on.  That’s the spy business for you:  a day’s worth of boredom sometimes punctuated by a few seconds of terror.  But the terror part’s the one that everyone likes, right?  Well, only if you’re the reader . . .

And what about that real girlfriend?

 

“Miss me?”

He turned to his left and watched Annie fade into view as her light bending field merged with his. “I was counting the seconds.” He patted the ground to his left and waited for her to get comfortable. “You have any problem tagging her?”

“No.” Annie partially unzipped her jacket and removed the light scarf around her neck. “I followed her into the bathroom and put it on her there.”

“The girl’s bathroom.” He chuckled. “The one place I can’t go.”

“It’s not that great.” She stretched out her legs. “Most girl’s bathrooms aren’t nice.”

“It’s not much better with the boy’s bathrooms, trust me. The only nice one I’ve seen is back at our school.”

Annie nodded. “I agree.” She nodded at the bag on Kerry’s right. “Lunch?”

“Yeah.” He set it in his lap. “Mom brought it about ten minutes ago.” Kerry stayed with the code names and pronouns assigned as they’d been told. He reached in the bag and removed a wrapped sandwich. “Lean roast beef with lettuce and onion—and a touch of horseradish—on rye.” He handed it to Annie. “Oh—” He removed another item. “And a dill pickle. Just as you ordered.”

“Thank you.” She partially unwrapped the sandwich and breathed in the aroma. “Lovely. What did you get?”

“Turkey with lettuce and onion—and a touch of mayo—on sourdough.” He removed a smaller bag from the larger one. “With a side of potato chips.”

“Not regular chips?”

“I will admit they do chips up better in Cardiff than they do in the States, so I passed.” He pealed open the wrapping and took a quick bite of his lunch. “Not bad.”

“Mine’s good, too.” She removed her pickle from the plastic wrap it came in and nibbled. “Though the school makes them better.”

“They do have an advantage other places don’t.”

 

In case you were wondering, lunch is served right under that tree.

In case you were wondering, lunch is served right under that tree.

The one thing to take away is if your girlfriend likes onions, you better have them, too, otherwise you’re gonna smell it on her all day.  And Kerry loves that turkey, it seems.  So, once more, they are enjoying a nice lunch together on a chilly day, only this time they’re invisible under a tree in Kansas City instead of sitting out in the open on a bench in a park in Salem.  They love their lunches together, and the discussions that come with them . . .

And their discussion this time was a bit about romance.  Annie talks about the things she’s seen her parents do–little touches, kisses, terms of endearment–and she tells Kerry that romance in a relationship is important.  It’s also noted that Kerry’s seen none of that behavior in his parents, and why am I not surprised?  Annie attributes part of his wanting affection to having spent a little of his life growing up around her, and there is probably some truth in that:  he felt her love early on, and his soul cried out for whatever she radiated.  Annie comes right out and tells Kerry the truth:

 

Annie stopped him abruptly. “You’re not your parents; not in any way. You want affection—maybe that’s because you grew up, in a way, around me and you felt what I felt.” She lay her head against his shoulder for a few seconds. “I couldn’t be with you if you were like your parents. It would kill me.”

“I know. I think that’s what the girl in my rune dream was telling me.” He rested his head against hers for a moment before sitting up straight. They both finished their lunches in silence after a few minutes.

 

Pretty harsh, soul mate, but a whole lot of truth there.  And as Kerry says, it’s what the girl in his dream was trying to tell him:  he couldn’t be cold to Annie, she would hate it, and he had to open his heart to her in order to make her happy.  Smart girl, whomever she was.

They discuss a bit of the dream from the night before, and it’s obvious that Kerry is done California Dreamin’.  They both come to the conclusion that it wasn’t so much the home that Kerry was attached to as it was the personal items he left behind.  There was love in the memories those things brought, and when he left them behind, he left behind those memories.  But the home–screw that.  He knows it wasn’t a home, not based upon the definition that Annie gave him.

And that’s when Annie begins the reminiscing . . .

 

Annie took Kerry’s hand in hers and held it tight. “About a month before my eighth birthday my mother and I went away to a house her parents own just outside Pocancy, France. That’s in the Champagne region—do you know it?”

“I know of it. It’s like north-east France, right?”

“Yes. Beautiful country: lots of low rolling hills and fields and wooded areas. My grandparents have had that house there since the 1950s, I believe.”

“Why did you go there?”

“My mother had spent the summer on a project and she wanted to get away and rest.” She cuddled up against Kerry. “We spent three weeks there, with my father popping in every so often when he wasn’t testing or racing.” She smiled as the memories came back to her. “Every other day my mother and I went bicycling.”

“You did?”

“Yes. We’d ride maybe ten, twelve kilometers, stay out all day. That was how I got to see so much of the surrounding area.”

Kerry squeezed Annie’s hand. “Sounds wonderful, Sweetie.”

“It was.” She paused just a moment before telling him the rest. “I’d love to live there one day.”

“Really?”

“Yes. I have it written in my wedding book. A little château, walled off, with a garden in the back where I can grow vegetables and herbs. Maybe a small house in the back where I can have a lab like my mother’s.”

Kerry turned to Annie, a huge smile upon his face. “You have it all thought out.”

“Yes, I do.”

 

Leave it to Annie:  she knows what she wants, and she writes it down so she doesn’t forget.  And once it’s down in her wedding book, well, hell, it may as well be set in stone.  And since this was right before she turned eight, she was already in love with her Ginger Hair Boy, so you can imagine she was probably imagining him as the Master of the House.

Maybe right close to where the grandparents live.

Maybe it’ll be right close to where the grandparents live.

She adds something else in, which Kerry catches right away:

 

“What about your lake house?”

“Oh, I’ll always have my lake house; it’s not going anywhere.” She turned and gazed into Kerry’s eyes. “That will always be there for me to us, and once we learn how to jaunt, it won’t matter where we live, we can go there for a night or a weekend and get away from everything, just rest and relax and . . .” She pressed her cheek into Kerry’s arm. “Do whatever we like.”

He didn’t need to have “whatever we like” spelled out for him; Kerry’s suspicion was that it had something to do with what they’d already seen in their wedding vision. “You just said something telling—”

“What’s that?”

“You said ‘we’. When ‘we’ learn to jaunt ‘we’ can go there no matter where ‘we’ live.”

She lowered her head slightly and looked up at him. “Does that bother you?”

He shook his head once. “No.”

“Good. Because given what we’ve seen—given the possibility that it’s going to be true—my lake house will be your lake house one day.” She gave him a quick kiss. “And my house, wherever I live, will be yours as well.”

“A little château in France?”

“That’s one possibility.”

 

What’s mine is yours, Kerry, and she isn’t hiding it.  She knows their future together is possible, and she’s going with that.  There’s also the “whatever we like” line which Kerry gloams upon right away.  It’s an unfortunate fact that they both saw something that should have remained imagined for some time, and that will have an effect on them as time moves forward.  Annie could be talking about getting the Monopoly game out and spending the evening trying to force Kerry into declaring bankruptcy, but I’m gonna say she’s got something else in mind.

Kerry’s imagining something as well–

 

Kerry slipped his hand out of Annie’s and wrapped his arm around her. “I’m thinking . . .”

“Yes?”

“One day I’d like to wake up early and get the bikes out, and ride into the nearest town. Find a small cafe and sit and have breakfast—”

“Alone?”

“No.” He pulled Annie against him. “I’d do this with the person I love.”

She chuckled. “Anyone I know?”

“You do: she’s right next to me.”

Annie closed her eyes so she could visualize Kerry’s words. “What happens after that?”

“Well, we spend a couple of hours eating and talking before getting on our bikes and heading off—maybe riding to the next town, or two towns over, or maybe even another beyond that. Then we buy some things for lunch—bread, meat, cheese—”

“And a little wine.”

“Have to do that if we’re in France . . . We take that and find a nice, shady place on the side of the road, and have a picnic. Eat, relax, enjoy the weather.”

“Sounds wonderful.”

“It would be. And when we’re done, we bike home, take a nap—’cause we’re gonna be tired—and then clean up and get ready for dinner. And if we are in France, and we can jaunt, there are so many places where we could dine.”

Annie saw all this in her mind’s eye: the riding, the picnic, resting at home, getting dressed and going out . . . “And is there anything after that?”

“Sure we go home, or . . . we go to our lake house where we rest, relax . . .” He kissed her on the cheek. “Do whatever we like.”

 

He’s going with the idea that perhaps their future together is in somewhere in Europe–maybe a walled château in France–and that they’ll have access to their lake house whenever they need to get away.  And Kerry’s words have an affect upon Annie–

 

Annie heart raced as Kerry’s ideas for their day together came together in her head and the images became real. She so wanted to speak his name right now, but knew she couldn’t, that even though the odds they were being watched were small, she didn’t want to go against the instructions that Helena gave them this morning.

She half-unzipped her jacket, then took his hand and held it against her chest. “Do you feel that?”

Kerry sighed. “Yeah, I do.”

She pressed their hands into her shirt. “That will happen one day. I promise.”

He said nothing for a few seconds. “No, you won’t.”

Annie turned her hand and gave him a shocked look. “What do you mean?”

“It’s not yours to promise.” He smiled. “It’s mine.” He quickly kissed her on the lips. “And one day that will happen. I promise.”

She had agreed last night they wouldn’t think about a future wedding, that they wouldn’t discuss the mater out of fear they would destroy the possibility of it occurring. But after hearing this, Annie could do nothing but hope and wish that their visions come true. “I’m going to hold you to that promise, my love.”

Kerry did his best to ignore his own racing heart, if only to keep the emotions running through is mind out of his voice. “I’d expect nothing less, Sweetie.”

 

Racing hearts and emotions.  I think the next novel will end up titled B for Because Hormones Are Out of Control, as that’s going to be a problem by next year.  Or will it?  Because there are probably more than a few magical ways to keep these kids from getting too carried away.

Then again, I know things about that story, and . . . I can’t say.  I’m a stinker, I know.  And until I write it down in a story anything I say makes me an unreliable narrator, because I don’t want to tell you too much of their future.

But we know now:  Annie wants a future in France.  And Kerry can see them sharing it.

Pretty nice deal coming out of a spy operation, wouldn’t you say?

The Open Book

As much as I wanted to crank out about fifteen hundred words last night, it was impossible to do that.  Not only was I fighting off fits of depression yesterday–I thought I was done with that, but I was wrong–I started suffering back spasms throughout the day, and it was difficult to sit at the computer for very long and type without feeling the needs to go lay down for about twenty minutes after sitting at the computer for about the same amount of time.  It feels better now, but then I’ve been laying down for the last six hours.

We’ll see what tonight brings.

As such, I only managed about six hundred and seventy words–but as I’ve said in the past, they were good words.  This is a point where Annie is talking about her book, her wedding book.  Erywin asked how it came to be in her possession, and in these six hundred and seventy words she tells you a little about what she’s done with it.  Not a lot, but . . . we learn a few things about what’s inside the book . . .

 

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

She nodded slowly. “I have. I knew a girl when I was growing up that had one, and a few of my students have had them.” She softened her tone, trying not to shake Annie. “When were you given yours?”

“On my fifth birthday. My mother gave it to me in private, after my father had departed to return to his work. She explained what it was for, what I was suppose to place upon the pages. I wasn’t certain what she meant: I was five, and while I knew about my parents being married, I didn’t know what I would do with my own book.

“A few weeks later I was staring at all the blank pages in the book, and I began having ideas. I’d started sketching about that time—I wasn’t very good because I was starting to learn—but I loved to draw.” Her eyes focused on something beyond Erywin as she thought about her first drawing. “It was my wedding dress. I’ve made much better sketches of it since that time, but the first one is still there.”

“I’m going to take a guess and say your wedding dress is pretty simple.” Erywin lay her hands on her thigh. “I can’t see you wearing something grandiose, Annie.”

She nodded slowly. “Yes, it’s something simply: no long train or massive amount of embroidery, just a simple white dress and matching dress sandals.” She continued staring off at something off I the distance. “I drew how the ceremony would look behind my parent’s home, in the field—that’s why I’ll wear sandals: it’s summer.”

“Sounds wonderful.” Erywin didn’t try to make eye contact with Annie, who seeing her memories. “And the reception?”

“There’s a small hall in Pamporovo that I want for that. I don’t anticipate a lot of people attending the wedding—just family on . . .” Annie paused and met Erywin’s gaze. “Both sides.”

“I see.” Erywin didn’t want to ask the obvious question, so she took the round about method. “What else do you have drawn in there?”

“My bridesmaid’s gowns—though I don’t expect to have a lot of them. I don’t even know if I’ll have them . . . The sketches of my lake house are there: all of them. Everything I wanted it to be, I drew there first.”

“That makes sense. According to Deanna, that’s where you’re going to spend your wedding night.” Erywin tip topped carefully into the next question. “Was that a vision as well?”

“Yes, it was. I saw it while I was standing by the short of the lake—it’s just over four hundred meters from my parent’s home—and I turned around and I saw the house . . .” Annie’s eyes rolled up just a touch. “And someone else.”

Erywin figured she didn’t need to make more than one guess. “Someone who’ll spend the night there with you?”

Annie didn’t try to obfuscate her answer. “Yes. My husband.” She barely made a sound as she cleared her throat. “The center of the book is where you’re support to write your name, and across from your name you write the name of the boy you’ll marry. When I attended private school before coming to Salem, a couple of the girls who had books talked about how they already had two or three names across from theirs.” She snorted. “Stupid girls.”

“And how many names do you have in your book?” This was another question Erywin didn’t have to ask, but knew it was necessary.

“Just one.”

“And when did you write that down?”

Annie sighed and closed her eyes: it wasn’t that she didn’t want to see Erywin, but she didn’t want there to be any chance she’d notice the expression of the third person present. “The night he told it to me.” She opened her eyes slowly. “I should say, the morning after he told me. The moment I woke up, I went to my book and wrote in Kerry’s full name. Later that day I did a rough sketch of him and, over time, managed to capture his likeness as he was then.” She leaned towards Erywin. “My name is across from his, and my portrait sits below my name, staring at Kerry’s.” She grew silent as her eyes turned towards the sky.

 

I suppose there’s a meme here where someone says to Annie, “You only had one name in your book!  One NAME!” and then if it’s the Worried Annie she give them the worried look, and if it’s the Not Worried Annie, she probably sets them on fire.  I just joke about that:  Annie hasn’t set anyone on fire–

Yet.

But now we know some of what’s in the middle of that book.  We know there are names and sketches, and it’s been mentioned in the story–back when they were in their last night in Amsterdam–that Annie had the chocolate wrapper Kerry gave her on the Chunnel ride there, and there’s something else written that we’ve yet to hear about.

But you know we will.

And we’ll probably hear from Kerry as well–who has been awfully quiet during all this.  Hard to say what he’s going through–well, I know, but you don’t.  You’ll have to find out.

The upshot of all this is that Act Three is just a few tens of words past forty-six thousand words.  It’s also a couple of thousand past three hundred and fifty thousand, so I upped the counter once more–to four hundred thousand words.

One more bump is all I can take.

There’s been a whole lot of upping of late.

With three parts remaining, I expect the counter to get upped one more time, and then that’s it:  no more upping.  There won’t be any need to up it beyond that–

You can’t go too far beyond “The End”, you know.