The Last Laps: Truth and Accolades

Finally, here I come to the start of the end of Chapter Thirty-One.  After this there are four chapters, fifteen scenes, and I’m done with another novel.  Also, I’m close to going over three hundred thousand words, like twelve hundred words close, and I’ll probably head over that point during the first scene of Chapter Thirty-Two.

And I know you’re going to find this a little strange, but with all the other stuff going on–the novel writing and the recapping–I’m working with someone else doing a little world building on another project.  Yes, like I don’t have enough to do, I decide I’m going to do a little more.  The obvious answer to “Why?” is probably “I’m nuts,” but right now I’m not coping to that.  Let’s just say I’ll probably have more to say about that in the future.

Now, for the main event . . .

The race is over, as is the season, and all that’s left now are the cheering and the accolades.  Both of which happen . . .

 

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

As soon as the final race concluded the entire student body was asked to report to The Diamond for the ceremonies surrounding the final race of the season. Kerry stood with the rest of the team while Vicky stood at a podium and read from the list of names of those fliers who’d finished at the top of the final standings.

There were three sets of podiums set up in the infield. The lowest one, just a step up from the ground, was a long, flat surface; behind that, two steps higher and fitted with steps on the sides, was a smaller podium designed for two people. Behind that, two more steps higher than the middle surface, sat the classic inverted “T” podium, with a raised middle section flanked by two smaller sections, and accessible from the back by stairs.

Vicky asked the crowd for silence and began her address, first recognizing the Individual standings. The lowest podium was set up for those fliers who finished Tenth to Sixth, with the fliers walking on to the surface from the audience’s left and moving all the way across to their right.

The lowest finishing flier was called first and Kerry smiled when he heard the name and coven. “Tenth place: Emmalynne Neilson of Mórrígan.” Her fifth place finish gave her just enough in the way of points to sneak into the last recognized Individual position. She turned and flashed Kerry a thumb’s up as her teammate, Nattat Adriano, was announced at the ninth place finisher. The other three students to take that podium were Fana Okeke of Ceridwen—the only flier from outside the top three covens to place—and Rezi Lahood and Getasew Berhanu, both from Åsgårdsreia, in seventh and sixth place respectively.

 

Something tells me I should model this set-up so people can actually see what it looks like.  ‘Cause I know I’ll get that question at some point.  And as for the question, “Emma got into tenth by finished fifth?”, the answer is going to come later in the scene.

It’s interesting how nine of the top ten are from the top three covens, which once again goes to show, consistency is how you win.  And if you keep being consistently good, you’re going to push out all the others who aren’t.

Now we have tenth through sixth out of the way:  what about the Top 5?  Glad you asked:

 

Then came the moment for which Kerry had fought and waited. “In fifth place:  Kerrigan Malibey of Cernunnos.” He marched up the stairs on the audience’s right and stood in his racing uniform with his arms dangling at his side. Kerry looked to his right as the next name was called out. “In fourth place:  Alexandria Chorney of Cernunnos.”

Alex bounced up the stairs, almost unable to contain her excitement. She waved to the crowd before turning to Kerry to give him a hug. “We did it.”

He nodded as he released his covenmate. “We sure did.”

Vicky waited for the applause to settle down before speaking again. “And now, at last, the top three positions in the Individual Computation. In third place:  Penelope Rigman of Cernunnos.” Penny stepped on to the podium position directly behind Kerry, and both Alex and he shook her hand. “In second place:  Nadine Woodley of Mórrígan.” Nadine took her position behind Alex and the congratulations between the four fliers in the top five happened once more. “And lastly, the winner of the 2012/2013 Salem Racing Individual Standings: Rivânia Suassuna of Åsgårdsreia.” Penny and Nadine each gave Riv hugs and congratulations while all the students and instructors gathered applauded and cheered.

After the podiums cleared the fliers returned to their teams and moved to the larger inverted “T” podium used for the Team Standings. There wasn’t any surprises here: Mórrígan took third, Cernunnos finished in second due in a large part to the team’s three best fliers, and Åsgårdsreia took the top position, only four points ahead of second place. All the teams took turns congratulating each other, and Manco took a moment to stand together with Nadine and Rivânia for the team captain’s picture.

The moment Kerry saw a certain person step out of the stands he excused himself and headed towards her and her waiting smile. He held his arms wide as he neared Annie. “So how’d I do?”

 

Because Kerry missed the first few races of the A Team season he essentially had five DNFs (Did Not Finish race) against him, and that meant he didn’t point there.  He made fifth place because he consistently finished in the Top 5, just as Alex did in order to finish fourth.  Same with the ladies at the top of the podium:  you get there with good finishes.

The Top 5 this season are going to be really fighting it out in Kerry’s C Levels.  The biggest question is whether or not Rivânia decides to race during the 2013/2014 season, as she’ll be a F Level and sometimes the F Levels just drop out of racing and let people from the B Team come up.  She may do the same.  I haven’t decided yet.

I should also point out there are three gingers in the Top 10:  Emma (10th), Kerry (5th), and Nadine (2nd).  Just imagine if they all make the Top 3.  Ginger Podium!

Now to finish up this scene and get ready for someone’s birthday.  Before I can do that I need to write a recap and probably work on my other project doing a little world building.  Busy writer, am I.

Assuming I can finish this post writing like this.

Time be passing, I be writing.  Sometimes.

The Last Laps: Warnings Amid the Possibilities

After a pretty good night of writing the second scene is finished.

But of course it is.

But of course it is.

It’s an interesting one, because it once more shows the kids stepping up and taking charge of situations that are normally handled by adults.  When the school is attacked kids join up with the adults in charge and help defend the place:  it’s not all instructors calling for Foundation aid from outside the walls.  When you got a beef you can meet with another student and, in a controlled environment, whack the shit out of each other.

And when it comes to telling racers your age how you expect them to act on the race course for the final big race, it’s the kids who seem to make the moves.  And sometimes they give the other kids a real ear-full . . .

 

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

The Cernunnos team captain nodded in older girl’s direction. “Thank you, Rivânia.” He faced the rest of the room. “We three began discussing today’s race last night before the Madness. After Blodeuwedd and Ceridwen race we do the last heat of the year. For those who raced last year I don’t need to tell you about the race, but for you new people, our race is one of the toughest of in-school events: The Fifteen and Finished. Green Line to Blue to Red and back to Blue then Green, performed three times each.

“A lot can go wrong out there today without people screwing around, and given how close so many races are today, the urge to settle old grudges is gonna be high. And none of the people in the back of the room—” He did a quick point towards Vicky and the coven leaders. “—or us up here want to see anything other than good racing happen as soon as the courses go green.” He looked past Rivânia to the girl on her left. “Nadine.”

A wicked grin began forming upon the Mórrígan team captain’s face. “Since I’m already considered the mean girl of this bunch, I don’t mind laying a little truth on you. And it’s this: anyone caught screwing around out there trying to hold people up or flat-out wreck them is gonna get their asses parked. Anyone pulls any shit out there today gets ordered off the course. No throttle back penalties, no time added on at the end: you get fucking parked.

 

I wonder if Nadine wears pink on Wednesdays to Wednesday’s?

We’ve seen Nadine throw around the language before, so this is not surprising that a D Level is gonna get coarse with fellow students.  We’ve know kids her age swear:  we know kids Annie’s and Kerry’s age swear, because we’ve heard them.  In my kid’s cases, they usually pop one off in their own or different language, but English has suited them both well at times.  And just wait until next year:  both are gonna find reason to drop an f-bomb or two.

With Nadine, however, you get the feeling that if you weren’t taking her advice, she’d just haul you out of the room and beat your ass just to make a point.  Maybe even right now–

 

“And if anyone sitting here right now suddenly thinks, ‘Oh, well, fuck it, I’ll just take someone out and be done with that shit’—” Nadine shook her head. “We’ve already discussed this with Race Control. The race goes red, we get your replacement from the B Team, and if the person you crashed can’t continue we pulled their replacement and continue with the race. You may screw up someone’s Individual standing, but you are not screwing up the Coven Team standings.

“If you should do something that stupid, you are out of racing at Salem for the rest of the calendar year.  And if you are allowed back into racing after the first of the year, you’ll start back on the B Team for at least the rest of the next season—assuming you’ll keep your shit together long enough to keep from melting the hell down there.”

Nadine pointed at her eyes before pointing to the rest of the assembled crowd. “We’re gonna have eyes on everyone today. You gotta a grudge you wanna settle with someone, then call them out to the Manor tomorrow and toss spells around until one of you goes down. But no one is burning down this race today.” She shook her head. “Uh, huh. That shit ain’t happening.”

Rivânia cleared her throat. “Thank you, Nadine; thank you, Manco.” She regarded the people seated before her. “In case you’re wondering we were thinking along the same lines as Professors Salomon, Arrakis, Semplen, and Sladen, and we went to them with this idea before them came to us. And they agreed that it was better if we tell you this, because hearing it from us means your captains care, and we the standings to reflect the best in Salem racing—and not the fact that people began losing their minds and started acting like a bunch of pendejos.” She turned her gaze to the back of the room. “That’s all we want to say, Vicky.”

 

The point made here is that the instructors were going to give this little speech, but they thought that having the other students hear these words from kids their age would help get the message down faster.

 

“Then you can rejoin your teams.” As the captains took their seats Vicky made her way to the rostrum. “I want to reiterate that we all want clean racing out there today, and there are a few people in this room which whom we’re going to give special scrutiny.” Her eyes narrowed. “I don’t need to mention names, but if you do hear me saying your name at some point during today’s race, it’s because I’m ordering you off the goddamn course.” She shook her head slowly with a grave look upon her face. “Let’s not make that happen, shall we?”

Another fifteen minutes was spent going over the specifics of the race—particularly the issues that might and likely would come from tackling the Red Line on Class One PAVs, the only time during the race season Class Three were not used there—before Vicky released everyone so they could head to their individual ready rooms to change and prepare for today’s even.

 

Next novel, for sure, we’ll see a run on the Red Line, and everyone will get a chance to see the Class 3 “jet ski” PAVs that are normally used.  Here, they end the season the same way it’s started, on the basic Class 1 “brooms,” and this is the only time these are used on the Red Line.

Now there’s time for a little team comradery–

 

Kerry was surrounded by Penny and Alex the moment all three were standing. Penny bounced slightly on the balls of her feet before addressing Kerry. “Nervous?”

He nodded. “Just a little.”

Alex patted him on the shoulder. “Don’t worry. You’ve done well on the Red Line before—and it’s not like you’ve not had a Class 1 up a klick in the air before.”

Before Kerry could reply Manco leaned in on the group. “Let’s get down our ready room and get changed so we can go over race strategy.” For a moment he looked a bit sheepish before recovering quickly. “You guys are the Top 5, and making sure you finish there will keep the coven in second.”

Penny nodded. “We’ll meet you there.” After Manco walked away, followed by Darius, Penny sighed aloud. “I can’t believe the coven has a shot at second.”

Alex nodded. “I can’t, either.”

“Yeah.” Kerry nodded towards the stairs. “Let’s get to The Diamond.” All three teammates headed for the Hangar and the outside, where they’d mount their brooms and take a quick hop to the racing stadium.

 

–Before I get into some history stuff, which you may or may not have known was coming.  Because I like doing this stuff, and you find out that someone close to Kerry is a bit tied in to racing history at Salem:

 

There wasn’t any reason to go over their coven’s racing history: Kerry knew it well. The last time their coven had seen a Team podium finish was 1993, which was, coincidentally, when Annie’s father raced for the coven. Annie told him that the coven finished third three times when her father was a member of the team, but try as they might they never had a team come together enough to make a good run at second.

Kerry knew that the last time Cernunnos finished second in Team standings was 1986, and they’d not seen a first place finish since 1972. The last time someone finished third in the Individual standings happened in 1997, and it was Holoč Semplen who did that as well as finishing second two years before, in 1995. Annie’s father was the last person to finish first for Cernunnos in the Individual standings, something he did in 1992.

Penny was in position to become the first Cernunnos girl to stand on the podium in third place since 1989—though it was possible if Penny had a horrible race Alex could take that spot—and she, Alex, and he had an excellent shot at putting three Cernunnos racers in the Top 5 since 1984. Kerry possessed enough of a lead over Rezi Lahood from Åsgårdsreia that he’d have to crash and not finish in order to lose fifth to her—and the same could be said about moving ahead of Alex and Penny: both girls would have to DNF for him to have a shot at third. Rivânia and Nadine were the only ones with a realistic chance at first, though a horrible performance, or a DNF, from either could rocket the other to the top of the standings. And if both—

Kerry cleared his head as he stepped outside into Selena’s Meadow. Don’t think about what could happen— He pulled his broom from Hammerspace and prepared to mount. Do as Annie said: race your own race.

It’ll all shake out in the end.

 

There’s been mention here and there that Annie’s father did some racing when he was at Salem, and here’s the proof:  Victor Kiralov was the last person from Cernunnos to finish first as an individual.  I also show that Holoč was the last people from this coven to finish on the podium as well, so we know he’s got the chops to watch over his racers.

If it seems like the boys have hogged the Horned God’s glory, remember it was stated back about two hundred thousand words ago, that the race team here tended to favor the boys, where as the others favored the girls.  That seems to be changing, and we’ve seen what happens when you let the ladies do their thing.

And in case you’re wondering how I knew when certain students were in school?

You didn't need to ask.

You didn’t need to ask.

Right there in the middle you see Palvlina Ganchev and Victor Kirilov (misspelled on the time line, I’ll fix that tonight) and the times when they were students.  You even get to see here when the headmistress went to school, back in the mid-80s and early-90s.  One of the reasons Jessica recommended Mathilde for the headmistress’ job is because she remembered her as a fellow student, even if she was below her a couple of levels.  Hummm . . . she must have done something to make an impression.

Next up:  part of the final race.  Wonder what’s going to happen?  I mean that:  I have no idea yet.

Really.

Springtime For Kerry: Racing Resolutions

Well, well, it’s just a little after ten and here I am getting my post going after writing just over six hundred words.  Or I should say, adding six hundred words, because I know I’ll get to writing more this afternoon–like getting the next scene going, which I don’t think will be a long scene, maybe a thousand words or so.  Yeah, you’ve heard that one before, I’m sure.  But this time I mean it!  Unless, of course, I don’t.

It’s an interesting morning, as I drove down to The Burg’s Old Uptown area, where there’s another branch of the coffee shop where I’ve been hanging out on Sundays.  The one I walk to is closed on Saturdays, and since I’m going to be busy tomorrow morning, I decided to head out here, get in my writing, then make a quick stop at the office to print out something before retiring to the apartment for the afternoon.  At the moment I’ve got my caffeine on and I’m typing away like a little madwoman, so all is good in the world.

I'm also wearing my new peach top.  Or orange.  Either way, it looks good on me.

I’m also wearing my new peach top. Or orange. Either way, it looks good on me.

Yesterday I showed everyone what happened in the week after Kerry’s Big Wreck, but I didn’t show it all:  I reached a point where I thought stopping was good.  One reason for that was I wanted to finished the thought I started, and, if possible, I wanted to finish the scene, which I did.  I ended the preceding post with a certain Colorado Ginger maintaining a low profile, maybe out of shame, maybe out of not wanting to get her butt kicked, maybe out of not wanting fireball tossed at her–though that last is probably a stretch, ’cause Annie now knows better than to attack someone in a way that may get her tossed out of school.  Particularly when we have seen that Annie can throw a fireball big enough to light up a big damn bonfire, so setting a girl slightly taller than her in the middle of a massive conflagration that could reduce her to cinders in a matter of minutes wouldn’t be much of a stretch.

What was Emma up that Tuesday night?  Let’s look, shall we?

 

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

Friday morning all members of the coven race teams were called to the Flight School and assembled in the ready room. Though Kerry wasn’t yet cleared to fly he was told to attend, as was Annie, who sat in the back of the room next to Professor Semplen. Once everyone was in place, Emma got up in front of everyone and began apologizing . . .

She apologized for her actions during the Katahdin race; she apologized for her actions over the course of the season. She apologized for those she’d hurt, and faced Kerry while saying that not only was she sorry that she’d put him in the hospital twice during the season, but that he was right: she had slid into him because she saw him as a threat and she didn’t want him to be the first B Level to stand on a podium for the first time in forty-two years.

She told everyone she’d spoken with both Erywin and Vicky, and that neither of them had placed pressure on her to make the apologies, or to take her follow actions: she sat herself down for the next race, agreed to a thirty second penalty that would get applied to the race the following week, and that while her standings up to and including Katahdin would stand, and the points she generated for the Mórrígan team wouldn’t be affected, she would take a fifty point reduction in her totals in the Individual standings, which would push her back to eighth place and only six points ahead of ninth.

After Vicky had Emma sit with her team she let everyone else know that Emma had also requested that she be placed on probation for the remainder of this season and the entirety of the next, to which she and the rest of the team captains agreed. The probation terms indicated that if she deliberately endangered anyone on a course during this time she’d find herself removed from the team for good. Erywin spoke to the teams as soon as Vicky was finished and stated that while Emma’s actions were the best possible for her and for the coven, and she applauded her to being proactive in doing what she could to repair her current reputation.

 

There you go:  she want to Vicky and Erywin and let them know she was being a shit of a racer, and that she wanted to do something to redeem herself.  What she did isn’t unusual:  in Normal racing circles it’s not out of the question for the new kid who’s been something of an asshole on the track to get up in front of the other teams and tell them they know they’ve been a butthead, and they want to take steps to fix things before something bad happens to them–

Like, you know, stuffing someone in a wall at eighty miles an hour--which is what's happening here.

Like, you know, getting stuffed in a wall at eighty miles an hour–which is what’s happening here.

Now one could say, “Well, Emma didn’t really do this on her own; Vicky and Erywin are covering for her–”  Now, Vicky might cover for someone–she kinda did it for Annie, though she still gave her detention for doing things she wasn’t supposed to do–but have you been following Erywin?  That witch covers for no one.  If she hadn’t pulled Emma aside right away to sit her ass down, it’s because she was waiting to see if the Bad Girl From Bolder was gonna step up on her own.  Which she did.

But that doesn’t mean it’s all over, does it?  Nope, not quite–

 

During Emma’s mea culpa Kerry felt as many eyes upon him as upon his wingmate. Everyone in the room were not only aware of his relation with Emma, but their history as well, and the longer things played out, the more he felt he’d need to say something—

While Erywin made her way to the back of the room Kerry stood and faced Emma along with everyone in the room. He said that he’d told her earlier in the week that she needed to fix things with him and everyone she raced against, and he glad to see her doing that. He said that he forgave her and hoped she’d become the racer he knew she was, because he’d hate to not be able to race against her in the future. He ended by saying he felt the matter was closed and there was nothing further to say.

That same afternoon he reiterated the same feelings. Advanced Flight 1 spent the afternoon going over the process for modifying PAVs to achieve greater performance, which meant spending the entire class in the Flight School hangar. About an hour into class Emma tried to bring up the morning in the ready room: Kerry’s response was to smile and tell her everything that could be said was said, and there wasn’t any need to go over the same things again.

The Ostara races were the first since Katahdin where Kerry would be on the course at the same time as Emma—in fact, the first heat of the series was Cernunnos and Mórrígan. He was aware that everyone from both teams were watching them, particularly since someone had started a rumor that he was going to wreck Emma in the first race . . .

 

Once again Kerry takes the high road and tells everyone the matter is closed, let’s move on.  I know there’s a feeling that Kerry should just tell Emma off and snub the hell out of her, but he’s not like that.  He’s had to apologize for so many things in his life time that he knows what it’s like to want to be forgiven, so he’s forgiving type, at least publicly.  Privately he’s already told Emma that if tries any shit with him he’ll wreck her, and they both know he can do this because he’s the better flier.

The thing is if these two just happened to “get together” on the course during the first heat of the day and Emma just happened to end up busted and battered and probably in a coma when it’s all over, you can almost bet that Race Control would shrug and mumble, “It’s one of those racin’ deals,” and maybe lay a five second penalty on Kerry, and that would be that.  Unless he did something stupid like spear her with his broom, but he’d never do that so no need to go there.

Given there’s a rumor going around, however–probably started by a real bad racing girl–Nadine’s gonna check even though she knows he rumor is total BS . . .

 

Nadine nodded and smiled. “I know there won’t be trouble. It’s just—”

“You gotta make sure, I know.”

“Yeah.” She tapped Kerry on the shoulder. “We better get downstairs. Gonna be a big day today.”

“You know it.” He bounded down the stairs alongside his friend. “The penultimate hurrah.”

Annie waited at the bottom of the stair. Nadine greeted her before heading off to join her own team, leaving the couple to hook up with the Cernunnos racers. Annie leaned against Kerry’s shoulder the moment he took her hand. “Is everything good?”

“Yeah.” He walked slow, seemingly not in any hurry to get to the infield. “Even though Nadine knows everything’s cool, she’d gotta be team captain, too.”

“She wanted to make certain there wasn’t any outstanding issues.”

“You got it.”

Annie slowly swung their arms as they walked. “Are you all right?”

Kerry shot her a quick look. “What do you mean?”

“You look tired.”

“Nadine said the same thing.” He kissed her hand. “Just nerves, Sweetie. That and not getting to bed until almost three.”

“You mean not getting to sleep until then.” She leaned closer as she lowered her voice. “I believe we were in bed well before that.”

“On the sofa, at least.” He chuckled. “I’m good, don’t worry.”

“I don’t worry.” She looked straight ahead with satisfied expression etched across her face. “I know you’ll do your best out there.”

“Of course I will.” He stopped them and gave Annie a long, soulful kiss. “Doing my best is what I do best.”

Annie brushed her fingers lightly over his cheek. “And I, of all people, know that the best.”

 

“I believe we were in bed well before that.”  Annie, you scamp!  Keeping your soul mate up late the night before a big race, you should know better.  Wonder if her mama did the same thing with her papa as well?  Could be.  Maybe it’s time to say, “Like Mother, Like Daughter,” which might get a fireball tossed my way, because even though Annie is a fictional creature, it’s still something she’d do.  She takes no shit from anyone.

Here we are then:

The scenes just keep falling.

The scenes just keep falling.

Helter Skelter is up next, and funny thing:  if there was ever a good place for a wreck, it’s there.  Makes one wonder . . .

Springtime For Kerry: Bracing Concerns

Though it doesn’t happen often, I do find myself unable to finish a train of thought before heading off to dreamland–or in my case just crashing out into deep slumbers because I’m so tired.  And I been tired this week; it seems like I’ve played catch-up on my rest every day, including last night.  Which is why I’m usually in my pajamas when I’m putting the touches on my masterpiece.

I usually don't look this attentive when writing.  Or good looking, either.

I usually don’t look this attentive when writing. Or good looking, either.

And one of the things that keep me from moving ahead quickly with the scene last night was having to rewrite paragraphs.  One of them doesn’t appear here, but the last two in the excerpt I probably spent fifteen minutes on getting write, because after rereading what was originally written I about pulled out whatever non-existence hair I have.  I get that was a lot these days:  I put something down on paper–computer paper in this instance–and my eye immediately picks up that it kinda sucks.  In the instance of the first paragraph in question it was because I had all the thoughts there, but they were way the hell out of order.  This is why you edit:  so your stuff doesn’t suck.  At least not deliberately.

Because I didn’t get everything written as planed last night, that means you only get a small part of what I scribbled out.  But I think you’ll enjoy this part.  At least that’s my hope.  We’ll see.

 

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

Nadine waited until the hallway was clear. “How you feeling?”

“I feel okay.” Kerry leaned against the wall. “Pretty good, actually.”

“I was just wondering ‘cause when I saw you at lunch you looked like you were draggin’ a bit.”

Kerry shrugged. “I didn’t sleep much last night. Got a case of the nerves and had trouble going down.” He smiled. “If you noticed Annie’s dragging a bit, too.”

A slight smile flashed on Nadine’s face. “You both up late?”

“Just a little.” He stood and looked around the empty corridor. “What you really want?”

“Wanted to make sure everything’s gonna be okay out there today.”

“You mean when we race you guys?”

Nadine nodded. “Uh, huh.”

“Yeah. It’s all cool.” He turned a lopsided grin to the Mórrígan team captain. “I was given several personal assurances yesterday.”

“So was I. I just, you know—”

“Gotta make sure I know that you know everything’s good.”

“Something like that.”

Kerry chuckled. “There won’t be any trouble from either of us. Nothing to worry about.” He inwardly grinned, because they’d discussed this same matter after Advanced Spells the prior Wednesday. This is her job, though; she has to make sure the peace is kept. I can’t blame her for being a bit apprehensive . . .

There wasn’t a lot of activity in the aftermath of the Katahdin. Kerry spent the night in the hospital with Annie by his side, and when he was released the next day before lunch, Coraline discovered that while the magic and technology did their job repairing the damaged ligaments of his left knee, the scans indicated the repair wasn’t perfect. She decided that additional treatments were possible on an out-patient basis, and released him with the stipulation that he returned every morning for twenty minutes of treatment, and that he wear a brace until Tuesday morning, when she’d complete the treatments. She gave him a cane to use for additional support, but because she didn’t want him going up and down the coven stairs she had him sleep in the hospital Sunday and Monday nights—something that Annie did with him as well—allowing him to use the lift from the ground floor to get to the first floor ward.

During this time Emma maintained an extremely low profile, leaving Mórrígan tower only to eat and attend class. Her dormmates, Jacira Maciel and Leela Kaluwitharana, told others in their level that she usually sat on her bed and said little, though they said that Wednesday afternoon she let them know she’d be away from the tower for a while that night—

 

Now you know:  those little magical nanos aren’t getting Kerry’s knee all fixed up the way they should fix them right away.  This was something Coraline feared might happen, and now you see Kerry hobbling around the school wearing a brace while getting “out-patient” treatment.  This is also the first time he’s seen being made to sleep in the hospital while getting something done because Coraline doesn’t want him walking up and down stairs.  The hospital has a lift at the south end of the ward:  it goes down to the ground floor and the lower levels, and up to the second and third floor, and the later of those two are going to put in an appearance soon.

And of course Annie is spending the night with him as well because Coraline is an enabler and knows there’s no way in hell she can get Annie to head off to the coven to sleep down in the B Level section without her soul mate doing the same on the other side of the tower.  Good thing Annie’s considered part of the triage staff and her overnights with Kerry can be seen as, um, “therapeutic”.  Yeah, that’s right.  She’s helping him heal.

But this last paragraph about Emma?  Well, now you know she has mates with whom she shares a room.  And she’s been sticking to it because she knows she’s been a bad girl, and there are probably a couple of C Levels girls from The Tower of the Horned God looking to kick her ass.  So what did Emma do Wednesday night?

I know.  And I’ll tell you tomorrow.

Springtime For Kerry: Ostara Overview

It’s that time again, kiddies:  the One Chapter Ends Another Begins time.  You know how this works, because I’ve done it so many times before.  However, this time it wasn’t all story writing–I had to plan things out again.

Lookie here:

Did you Lookie Here?  Good for you.

Did you Lookie Here? Good for you.

If you did look at the above image you’ll see a new file on the left, in what we who use Scrivener call “The Binder”, that says “Ostara Round Robin Race.”  Yep, it’s that time again as well:  another big race.  Well, I did tell you there was gonna be a lot of flying in this part.  Though this chapter isn’t so much about racing as it is about something else–though for the life of me I can’t seem to recall the word.  Some writer I am, huh?

Here we are, Saturday, 23 March, 2013–that’s the time in the book–and we focus on Kerry.  Again.  This kid’s getting a lot of screen time of late . . .

 

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

Kerry walked out of the Cernunnos Ready Room and headed for the stairs to the lower levers of The Diamond where he knew Annie waited. As with all races, no one but A Team members were allowed in the team ready room areas, though friends of the racers and “fans” were allowed to wait two levels down where they could meet the team members and walk with them to either the track infield if they were ready to begin a heat, or to the paddocks where they waited their turn to race.

In Kerry’s case he was heading for the infield with the rest of the team. Today was Ostara, the spring celebration with events put on by Annie’s and his coven, the largest of which was the Ostara Pageant, where members of the school were given the opportunity to show off their talents. Just like the year before Kerry was performing—though not with Nadine, who was performing a piece of her own, though they’d worked worked together on their performances together so they could encourage and critique each other.

But now wasn’t the time to think about music: it was time to race, and he was heading towards something with which he had some experience. Today’s event was a round robin competition, much like the one he participated in on Samhain. It was the last big racing event before the final race of the season, and it was conducted in the same way as the Samhain round robin. At this point in the season the coven standings were almost the same as they were five months before: Mórrígan was in the lead and Åsgårdsreia was second. The difference now was that Cernunnos was only four points behind Åsgårdsreia, and a good showing today could tighten up the margin between the two covens.

The biggest changes were in the personal standings. Though Nadine remained in the lead, in the two weeks since Katahdin Penny had won the race following the huge cross country event and finished third the following week. Because Rivânia had a horrendous race the week following Katahdin—she managed a sixth by a three second margin—Penny was currently in second place in the Individual standing, though her lead over Rivânia was only two points. Neither girl thought they had a chance at catching Nadine—who was twenty-four points ahead of Penny—both had spoken privately about racing each other hard but cleanly for the rest of the season, and that neither would do anything underhanded to prevent the other from taking the number two position on the final Individual podium.

Kerry position had improved as well. During the same races that Penny finished first and third, he finished third in the first and second the following race. He was now in fifth place, three points ahead of Alex, and only seven points behind fourth place Rezi Lahood from Åsgårdsreia. Rezi was sixteen points behind Rivânia, which meant that just as Penny and Rivânia believed they didn’t have a chance to catch first place, the two girls and Kerry didn’t believe they had a legitimate shot at third.  And just as his Advanced Spells classmates did, Alex and he spoke with the Lebanese girl and gave assurances that while they’d race hard they’d race clean, and that they wouldn’t do anything to jeopardize each other while on the course.

The discussions among the top fire racers meant Kerry had no worries about anything nefarious happening during today’s races, or the races remaining over the next month. He didn’t even—

“Kerry.” Nadine flagged him down as she headed towards the same staircase from the opposite direction.

He waved back but waited until they were within a couple of meters of each other other before speaking. “What’s up?”

“You got a few minutes?” She pulled him aside so not to block the other team members making their way downstairs.

“Sure.” He gave is classmate and friend a smile. “What’s up?”

 

Pointed out is the fact that it’s three weeks after the big cross country race–Katahdin was help 5 March, and this is 23 March–and Penny and Kerry have done well for themselves.  And there’s been a lot of discussions between the racers at the top to keep things clean between them–something that does happen in the real world.  Well, more or less, because there are times when a couple of racers may decide to say “Fuck it” and start wrecking each other because reasons–

Why does the team captain from one team want to speak with a member of another team?  Maybe there’s something important?  Maybe became there’s a warning.  Maybe because Nadine’s also a ginger and she wants to compare hair with Kerry?  I do think I took all the gingers who couldn’t get into Hogwarts and put them in my school, don’t you think?  Oh, and have you noticed they’re all American?  Yeah, strange how that works.

So tune in tomorrow, kids.  It’ll be fun, it’ll be informitive.

And you’re gonna learn something about the big Katahdin race as well . . .

The Agony of the Finish

Last night was something of a first for me, because I did a couple of things I haven’t done in a while.  First, I started and finished a scene in one sitting.  Second, in doing the first, I wrote almost two thousand words.  Well, it was more like eighteen hundred and fifty, but you get where I’m coming from:  I haven’t done that in a while.  I did it by kickin’ it old school:  lots of music, most of it of the older variety, like 60s and 70s, and just kept pushing myself to get it done.

And done I did get it.

The vibe in this scene is far different it that it’s not all Kerry out there in the snow and cold all by himself.  Racing at this joint is a lonely affair, and it’s been proven because you don’t race with others on this course, you race the course, and that means you race alone.

Here you go:  all of the scene in it’s depressing glory:

 

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

If it weren’t for the fact he was on the last lap negotiating the last major turn on the last section of the Katahdan course, Kerry would have DNFed and headed for the paddock. He wasn’t prepared for the stress the race placed upon him, and over the last twenty minutes he’d fought with the cold, he’d fought with the messy and at times impossible-to-see course, with the constant stop and goes and left and rights—but most of all he’d fought to ignore the throbbing in his left knee. Though he couldn’t prove it, he was certain the initial collision on Lap 1 tore the outer ligaments, and over the course of Lap 2 and 3 he’d torn the other two sets.

It didn’t matter: at the moment his knee was engulfed in flame that has found its way up his thigh and into his hip. He was tired of the pain. He’d raced hurt in other school races, but never for nearly two hundred and seventy-five kilometers, and Kerry was continuing on fueled by endorphins, adrenaline, and sheer willpower, and the same mantra that saw him through a few bad moments during the last school year: A good sorceress keeps their wits about them when everything is going to hell around them.

He flew through McCarty Pass and eased his way towards the Lowland turn. After doing the Perimeter Road flyover all that remained was the straight into Wrap Around and the short chute into Final before zipping across the Start/Finish line. He had no idea where he was in the standings: the last person he’d passed had happened all the way over in Section 2 during this lap, maybe twenty minutes earlier. He knew he hasn’t seen Penny or Nadine since they’d passed him on Lap 1, so he figured there were still ahead of him.

Which, if he were correct, meant there were still a lot of people behind him.

He bounced into Lowland and sailed through the flyover before turning on another quick burst of speed towards the end. There was little left ahead, and behind him—

For the first time in a while he checked his rear view and spotted two racers, then a third, shoot over the flyover and hit the straight behind him. He wasn’t about to try performing calculations in his head, which left him guessing—and his guess was they wouldn’t catch him before Final turn. I’m going to do this; I’ve got this . . .

Every second in Wrap Around left his knee feeling as if someone was jabbing a hot needle into an open nerve. He shook it off and concentrated on getting through Final. On last glance in the rear view and he watched one of his pursuers come out of the last turn. He didn’t bother with IFF: they weren’t going to catch him. He pushed through Final as hard as he could take it, staying to the far outside of the turn so he could keep his speed up, then pushed forward as hard as he could stand. The final gate flashed green as he reached the Start/Finish line and put three lap and three hundred kilometers behind him.

The race was over: he’d completed the Katahdan course, though not in one piece as he’d hoped.

 

Here’s the last segment, Section 8–

We're just about home--literally.

Which is a good term for being nuts, now that I think about it.

Kerry’s done his three laps, and he’s ready to come in.  It wasn’t something he was ready for mentally, and it’s showing.  There’s also something else bothering him as well–

 

Kerry pulled up and away from the course, slowing in a long, high loop to ease the pain on his knee. He was about to call in when Professor Semplen called him. “Congratulations on finishing your first Katahdin race, Kerry. Over.”

“Thanks, Professor.” He gulped as he flipped up his visor. “I need medical attention: my left knee is damaged and it’s killing me. Over.”

“Rodger. We’re contacting the hospital now.” There was a slight pause before Professor Semplen returned to the comm. “Do you think you can stand on it? Over.”

Kerry shook his head even though there wasn’t anyone else around. “Not a chance. Over.”

“We copy. Return to the paddock and remain hovering on your broom, or if you feel you need to lay down have someone help you off and stay on the ground. Someone will be there shortly. Over.”

“Got it.” He angled towards the small open grove just to the north of the Start/Finish line. “I’ll be waiting—over and out.”

He floated out of the sky and was over the confines of the paddock only ten seconds after his conversation with Professor Semplen. With the excitement of the race behind him the adrenaline stopped flowing and the endorphin high was rapidly fading. Even before he reached the ground Kerry’s vision had begun graying out from pain. He leaned over his broom’s control column before sliding to his right—

“I got ya, Kerry.” Penny held him tight, easing him to the ground while Nadine removed his helmet. “You’re okay now, just relax.”

He moaned as his left leg bent the wrong way. “Where’s Coraline?” He clutched Penny’s arm, digging his gloved fingers into her arm. “Where is she?”

“The professor called; a nurse is on their way.” She gave him a reassuring smile. “Hang in there, mate. You’ll be okay.”

“What happened?” Alex came running towards them, sliding to a stop next to Nadine, who was kneeling at Kerry’s left. “What’s wrong?”

Nadine had the answer. “Remember Emma getting a slow down at the start of the race for rough racing? Erywin told me she collided with him in the Pond Switchback.”

“She hit my leg.” He spoke through ragged breaths. “Screwed up my knee.”

“Again?” Alex shook her head. “Son of a bitch—”

 

So Nadine and Penny are there, which means they were up near the front as Kerry suspected.  And Alex is there as well, so she’s somewhere in that mix.  Now what could make this party complete?  How about . . .

 

“Kerry? How are you?”

All three girls attending turned to Emma, standing about three meters past Kerry’s feet. Nadine tilted her head slightly to the left. “You might want—”

Alex was on her feet, taking a few menacing steps towards the Mórrígan racer. “Did you do this? Vy nimyy suka.”

Emma’s demeanor alternated between upset and pissed. “I only wanted to see how he was feeling—”

“He’s hurt.” Penny shot her a withering glare. “How did you think he was gonna feel?”

“I didn’t know, Penny.” Emma’s tone was beginning to match those of the other girls. “That’s why I came over.”

“Well, now you know.” Penny looked down at the injured boy, who was sweating profusely in the cool Maine air. “Now you need to get out of here.”

Emma wasn’t taking the hint. “Who do you think—?”

Penny was standing and not bothering to hide her anger. “Piss off, Neilson.” She dismissed the girl with a wave. “Move your arse out of here before we move it for you.”

Nadine put herself between the Cernunnos girls and her teammate. “Come on, let’s go.”

Even with this Emma still hadn’t caught on that she wasn’t wanted. “I just wanted to—”

Let’s go.” Nadine stiff-armed the arguing girl and led her out of the area before a fight broke out.

“Let us through.” At that moment Nurse Bianca Gallard appeared wearing her white hospital jacket and carrying a stretcher. She left the stretcher floating just beyond Kerry’s head as she knelt next to his head. “How are you feeling, Kerry?”

 

Really, not the sharpest knife in the drawer, huh?  The Mistress of the Misstep causes a calamity and then comes over so see how things are.  Maybe she figured Nadine being there would keep the Vipers chilled out, but no:  Emma came within moments of getting an ass beating, and it required her team captain stepping in to pull her out of harm’s way for her to get the messages.

At least help has arrived.

 

He answered in a soft, weak tone. “I’m hurtin’ bad.”

Bianca gave him a tiny smile. “How’s your pain on one to ten?”

“About a seven.” Kerry closed his eyes and swallowed. “Maybe eight.”

“Okay. Here’s what we’re gonna do—” She looked across his body. “I’m going to immobilize your leg so we can get you to the hospital with it moving about as little as possible. My assistant is gonna give you something for the pain: just enough to dull it, nothing more.” The smile returned. “Got that?”

“I got it.”

“Okay.” Bianca stood and turned to someone standing behind her. “Give him a Number Two patch; we just want to manage the pain right now.”

“Yes, Nurse Bianca.”

 

An assistant?  We haven’t seen any assistants working in the hospital before–Oh, Wait!  Yes we have, back during the Day of the Dead attacks.  Yeah, they exist, so I wonder who got tagged for this duty?

 

Though Kerry hadn’t seen the person the nurse spoke with, he recognized the voice and accent instantly. A large grin appeared upon his face as Annie—also wearing a white hospital jacket over her sweater—knelt next to him. “Assistant, huh?”

“I am a member of the Triage Team, am I not?” She removed his right glove. “Coraline thought it would be a good idea if I came with Nurse Bianca.”

 

As if you hadn’t expected this one–Nurse Annie to the rescue!

“I’m sure you ran to the hospital and offered your help, too.”

Annie nodded as she reached inside her jacket and removed a medpatch. “You know me all too well, my love.”

He watched her unwrap the patch and cracked it to activate the enchantment that would get the medication into his system. “You gonna make me feel better now?”

“Yes.” She gently slid the patch against the back of his hand and pressed it in place.

“With a kiss?”

She leaned close to his face and whispered. “That’s for later tonight.”

Bianca was standing over the couple. “I’ve got the knee set. You want to get him up so we have an easier time getting the stretcher under him?”

“Yes, Nurse Bianca.” Annie stood and took a step back from Kerry before raising her hands so they were level with her waist. Kerry slowly rose from the ground as Annie levitated to where he as high as her knees. “Ready here.”

Bianca slapped the stretcher over him, phasing it through his body before getting it set under him. She pointed towards Kerry’s feet. “You take that end.” Annie moved into position as Bianca raised

Kerry until he was level with her waist. “Okay, Kerry; we’re taking you directly to the ward. Hold on though—” She cradled his broom in his right arm. “Wouldn’t want to leave this behind.” He looked across to her assistant. “You got a good grip, Annie?”

Annie held tight to the stretcher handles. “I’m ready.”

Kerry stared straight up into the gray, snowy sky as he heard Bianca give a three-second countdown before there was the now-familiar sensation of something light pushing against his skin and quickly vanishing. He started up into the lights of the first floor ward as he was moved down the corridor, finally ending up in familiar surroundings: Bed #2 in Bay #1.

Bianca whipped the stretcher over him and slid it into the bay across the corridor, then turned to Annie. “Start getting his accessories off and set them on Bey #1 with his broom. I’ll get the IVs and what we need to clean him and set his knee. I’ll be back in a moment.”

“Yes, Nurse Bianca.” Annie set his broom on the other bed along with the glove she’s held since they’d arrived. She moved to the other side of the bed to get his other glove. “Just relax; we’re gonna get you all better.”

Kerry had little difficulty relaxing now that the pain meds were in his system. “You’re going to clean me up?”

She began sliding off his comm helmet. “Doesn’t the staff always clean you up?”

He started grinning. “Does this mean you’re gonna undress me?”

Her right eyebrow rose. “What do you think?” It returned to its normal place of rest as Annie chuckled. “I did say we were going to make you feel better . . .”

 

Don’t worry, it’s all medical stuff gonna happen, so if Annie just happens to be there when Kerry’s in his birthday suit, it’s because she’s helping out the hospital staff.  That Annie, she certainly knows how to work the angles.

There you have it:  the end of Kerry’s race on the big track.  And the penultimate scene to this chapter:

It really is because I show you that it is.

It really is because I show you that it is.

One more scene, and then I put the penultimate chapter to this first part of Act Three to bed and move on to something . . .

Well, you’ll see.

Details in the Dungon

This is not a good morning.  It hasn’t been for a while, because at two-thirty the fire alarms went off in the building, and for the first time there was smoke in our hallway on the eleventh floor.  It was smoke that smelled a great deal like someone was cooking and then fell asleep, allowing whatever it was on the stove to go up in flames.  Don’t laugh:  that same thing has happened twice before, and I suspect this morning was the third.

I didn’t get back to sleep until about four, which means I never really got back to sleep, so at the moment I’m feeling really slow . . .

This will be me in about another two hours, albeit with a lot less cleavage.

This will be me in about another two hours, albeit with a lot less cleavage.

On top of that the evening didn’t turn out to be the greatest, either.  It was one of those “Let’s Cry, Shall We?” moments from just about the time I walked out of work until I fell asleep.  I actually had to stop on the walk home and let it out for about five minutes, and then it was another five minutes after I got in the place, and another five while I sat out on my balcony and watched the lightning storm pass, and . . . you get the picture.  Lots of sadness; lots of crying.

And, yeah:   lots of writing.

Since I hadn’t written the night before I needed to make up for it last night, and penned–is that still a word?  We’ll go with it–a little over thirteen hundred words.  I took my time on it because, really, my mind was in other places.  Still, I got it done, and finished the scene.

And it doesn’t disappoint–I hope.

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

Most people were either in the covens or in the Dining Hall, leaving the Rotunda empty. They’d covered nearly half the distance from the transept to the East Hallway when they heard a familiar voice speak in a low tone. “Kerry.”

He turned towards the East Rotunda staircase where Nadine stood at the top of the flight leading to the lover levels. She waved them over. “Come here.”

Figuring there had to be a reason why Nadine was being so secretive he took her suggestion and headed towards her with Annie next to him. “Hey, what’s up?”

Nadine nodded in the direction of the downward flight. “Let’s talk in private.” She bounced down the fight, with her two friends close behind.

The lower levels of the Great Hall were much like the majority of the tunnels under the school: stark, dimly lit, and quiet. Kerry knew this section well, as the tunnel leading to Cernunnos Cover was a few meters to their right. Nadine turned left instead and walked towards the storage areas under the jaunt station and the school archives. As soon as they found a quiet passage she ducked inside and waited for her two followers. She didn’t bother with preamble. “Did something happen between you and Emma yesterday?”

He groaned quietly, hoping the unpleasantness that happening in Queens had died. “Yeah.”

Annie lightly touched his arm. “You should tell her everything.”

Nadine did a quick double-blink. “Must have been bad if Annie’s telling you to come clean.”

“It was . . .” He shrugged. “We landed in New York City—”

“I know: I helped set up your Scavenger Flight locations.”

“Right. We took a flight break when we were getting picture of the Unisphere, and she decided—” Kerry stared at the floor as he sighed. “She hit on me—”

Annie turned a cold stare towards Nadine. “Again.”

It was the older girl’s turn to scoff. “Yeah, I’ve heard the rumors in our coven.” She turned to Kerry. “I guess she didn’t take it well.”

“Not at first, but . . .” He cleared his throat as he shook his head. “She was okay by the time we were off Long Island and on our way home. I figured it was over.”

“What happened, Nadine?” Annie knew the whole story of what happened during the flight; after dinner, but before they got ready for the Midnight Madness, he told her everything that transpired earlier in the day. She’s suspected that if Emma tried anything Kerry would set her right, and he’d done that. However, there appeared to be a lingering aftermath . . .

“A couple of girls told me this morning that Emma started going on last night about today’s race.” Nadine turned and leaned back against the passage wall. “She was talkin’ shit about how you guys were tied at one, and this was going to be a deciding race.”

What?” Kerry’s face twisted about, unable to hide his disbelief. “What is she talking about?”

“One of the girls said that Emma told them that since you won your first race last Saturday, and she’d won the week before, this was going to be the chance to see which of the A Team B Levels was better.”

“Ah, jeez.” It became completely clear to him now. Two weeks before Emma won her first race as an A Team member, in a twelve lap heat on Class 2s against Ceridwen, making her the first B Level to win an A Team race in almost a decade. Then last Saturday Kerry won his first A Team race during a eight lap heat on Class 2s against Åsgårdsreia. “What is the big deal? We both have a win—so what?”

“It seems like it means something important to her, dude.”

Right off the bat we know that (1), the flight back from New York was cool, (2), Annie knows everything, (3), both Emma and Kerry have won races.  Of course there’s (4), Emma is totally talkin’ shit about Kerry, and it sounds like she’s letting people know that since this is the first time they’ve raced together, there’s gonna be some kind of showdown for the crown.  In other words, Emma’s acting like a twelve year old girl who’s been scorned, but instead of texting “Screw You, Kerry!’ to his iPhone, she’s gonna whip his ass on the race course.

All does not look that smooth in Wingmate Land.

Also, Nadine called Kerry “dude”.  Total teenager shit, yo.

Annie has a way of seeing something that Captain Clueless can’t–

“If I may . . .” Though not a racer, Annie had certainly lived through events at home and heard enough stories from her mother that she could venture a guess. “Even though Emma was on a Class 2, she was racing the Green Line, whereas you—” She touched Kerry’s hand. “You raced the Blue Line. You also won against the coven second in team standings, while Ceridwen was third at the time—”

“And still is.” Nadine slide her feet out a little and looked down at them. “I got a feeling Emma thinks your win is seen as being more important than hers—”

“But it isn’t.” He stepped back and looked down the long underground corridor to see if anyone had heard his rising voice. He sharply exhaled, getting himself under control. “We’re the only two B Levels on the A Team, and she won before me. It’s no big deal.”

Annie chuckled. “You’re still a bit clueless, aren’t you?”

He turned to her. “What do you mean?”

“She’s acting this way because you hurt her—”

“I didn’t mean to.”

“It doesn’t matter. She’s hurt, and she’s looking for a way to get back at you. And the race today—it’s the first time you’ve completed against each other since you both had your wins.”

Nadine nodded. “Annie’s right: Emma wants to get back at you somehow, and she’ll do it by making a point of showing everyone who’s the better racer.”

Girls understand girls, and they both seem to understand Emma.  Kerry’s still learning the tricks of the trade, and he’s getting there, but it’s still a bit of a struggle.  And now he’s feeling the pressure . . .

Kerry sighed, his eyes closed. I didn’t want any of this to happen. He opened them and stared at a section of the wall to Nadine’s left. If she’d just not said anything—or if I’d said something a year ago . . . “Oi. What a mess.”

“Yeah, it is a bit.” Nadine stood away from the wall. “I’ve already spoken with Erywin, and she said she’s gonna speak with Emma—though I don’t know if she’s gonna speak with her in person, or if there’ll be something said in the team meeting where it look like she’s not being called out.” She rotated her right shoulder, working out a kink. “She’s a bit pissed about all the blocking Emma does in the races, so maybe she’ll work in something about keeping your mind on the race into her speech.”

He ran his fingers through his short hair. “I hope so.”

“Is there anything you can do?” Annie decided it wouldn’t hurt to ask. “You are the team captain.”

Nadine frowned. “That’s true. But about the only thing I can do is tell her to lay off the blocking and shit like that. Still, I might pull her aside and tell her not to get cute out on the course today—it’s Fifteen on the Green, and the race is enough of a bitch without someone turning it into a grudge match.” She patted Kerry on the shoulder. “Look, just race your race today and don’t worry about her. Right?”

“Right.” Kerry managed a smile. “I’ll keep it clean.”

“Like you always do.” She gave his shoulder another pat. “See you on the course. Take care, Annie—and thanks.”

“You’re welcome, Nadine.” She waited for the older girl to vanish up the staircase before turning to Kerry. “What’s wrong?”

The problem Nadine has is that it’s known she’s somewhat friendly with Kerry.  In fact, what she did here could be viewed in some circles as fraternizing with the enemy, so to speak.  Nadine is her coven’s racing team caption, and warning a member of another team–well, all’s fair, right?

Nadine doesn’t play that game.  She knows a grudge match because of a broken heart could lead to something else getting broken, and she doesn’t want that to happen.  So she tells Erywin and Kerry, just so they know.  And she doesn’t leave Annie out of the mix, either.

Once Nadine’s gone Annie moves in to comfort Kerry, who is probably worried he won’t keep his cold yogurt drink down now.  And he’s being himself, which means . . .

He rubbed his forehead, covering his eyes. “I really screwed up.”

“Don’t ever say that.” Annie took his hands in hers and pulled him to her. “You did nothing wrong, my love. She decided to pursue you, and you told her it wouldn’t happen.” She kissed him before whispering in his ear. “Don’t blame yourself for her actions.”

Despite knowing that Annie was right, Kerry still felt some responsibility. “I should have told her last year to leave me alone and cut her out.”

“And we have no way of knowing if that would have changed anything.” She rested his head against her shoulder. “For all we know, love, things would be even worse. Things are where they are because things are meant to be here.” She patted his hair. “You’re going to do well today.”

He smiled as he wrapped his arms around Annie’s waist. “I’ll do my best, darling.”

She kissed his forever. “You always do, my love. You always do.”

Don’t blame yourself, Kerry.  None of you kids are really responsible for your actions as this age, mostly because hormones make you crazy.  But still–

What could go wrong in a race called Fifteen on the Green that Nadine calls “a bitch”?

Oh . . . many things.