It's like a marble, she whispers, leaning in closer still.
She's ensorcelled by it, this simple bit of natural world,
As I am, in my own way, ensorcelled by her.
"Good afternoon, ma'am. Are you Eunice Bond? Did you go to Shepherd High School in Isabella County?"
"Yes, that's me…"
"My name is Aggie Warfield. My grandmother was Penelope War— her maiden name was Adler. Penelope Adler?"
The woman's face lit up. "Oh, my goodness, Penny Adler. Come in dear, come in…"
As Eunice closed the door behind them, the girl continued, "I was wondering if you'd kept any pictures from back then, maybe something with my gran? I know it's been a long—"
"The only thing I have is the yearbook, it'd be right there on the shelf." She shook her head. "But they came and erased her, years ago."
"The government, dear, the Department Of The Army. During the war. Two agents came, took all the loose photos. They left the yearbook, just smudged her out."
"Oh, Lord, dear, you didn't ask why during the war…"
I didn't have a room growing up, not as such.
My father invented a thing, a space and time thing. I don't know how it works. To listen to him try to explain it to people, he doesn't quite know how it works either.
I slept out on the Serengeti, so long as I could show Mother that no predators would pass by my chosen spot that night. I slept in a crook halfway up a Sequoia, after I'd shown Father I could secure my bed to the trunk, and myself to the bed.
Better than a room, I think.
Okay. Annabelle awoke, stretched her arms, looked around her studio apartment and… Wait, no, that's too cliché, can't start with her waking up. No decent literary agent would let that pass.
Annabelle stepped out of the front door of her apartment building, her Manolos flashing red against the… Ugh, too 90's. What is this, Sex in the City? No. How about:
Annabelle raised her arm to flag down a cab as if she was a wizard bending the city to her will. Ooh, I like that… Hey, maybe this could be Urban Fantasy! I bet that stuff sells great… Okay.
Annabelle felt the power coursing through her fingers as she commanded a cab driver to… Should her name still be Annabelle if it's Urban Fantasy? What about 'Lorelei'? Or maybe something like 'Rielle'? Rieeeeeelle. Love it. Okay.
Rielle slid into the cab and the ensorcelled driver pulled away from the curb without a word from her… Where's she going though? Maybe a nightclub full of demons and sorcerers? OOh I could call the club 'Underworld'!
Underworld was a seething mass of power and sex and thumping house music. Rielle snaked through the crowd until she saw him… Okay, what should the guy's name be? 'Cray'? Maybe 'Tanner'? 'Tanner' works. I like a 'Tanner'.
As soon as Rielle approached, a predatory smile spread across Tanner's face. What does he say? Something alpha-male, gotta be a little rapey, but in a hot way.
"Welcome back, pet." Yeah, that'll really draw 'em in.
With the Merry Elizabeth's boilers stoked once again, and repairs made to her canvases and cannon, we regained most of our previous altitude and swung towards London. Enemy planes harassed us well into the night, but the armor held, as did the lads' nerves, thank God. Miss Hawthorne and her governess, the formidable Mrs. Posey, kept the coffee flowing and even lent their eyes to the watch. I yet believe we shall see Mrs. Posey take the crow's nest, though I would not wager soon.
But the good spirits on board belie my worries. I am more certain than ever that our mysterious enemy is none other than the Comte de Saint Germain after all. This engagement over Calais is therefore but a foretaste of the great approaching contest, with the fate of all Europe hanging in the balance. But then, as our dear Miss Hawthorne says: isn't it always?
He found her in the sun room, sitting quietly, staring out the window at an unremarkable darkness. "Honey?"
"I opened another bottle. Jamie's… what are you doing in here? I thought you just went to freshen your drink. We're in the living room."
"…Honey? What's going on?"
"I was just thinking."
"You were thinking?" He waited for a response, then something in his mind clicked over, rearranged, placed the awkwardness of leaving his guests unentertained for a few minutes into perspective. He pulled out a chair and sat down opposite her. "What were you thinking about?"
"Remember when we got married?"
"Of course. Your Mother got blasted. So did a couple of my groomsmen. I think Vinnie ended up sleeping it off on his next door neighbor's front lawn." He saw an ephemeral hint of a smile. "What do you remember?"
"I remember wanting you so much. I didn't want to go to the reception at all, I just wanted to go back to the hotel right away." She glanced over at him, caught his eye, blushed. "I suppose I told you that."
"You did." He grinned. "But later."
"That lasted a long time, didn't it? The newlywed thing? As long as any couple?"
"Longer than most?" She sounded like she wanted his permission to believe it.
"Never went away, babe."
She smiled, but it was linked to a look that might have easily graduated into a rolling of the eyes. "It comes back from time to time, anyhow."
Some music started a couple rooms away, soft music, something from the Ipod he'd left plugged into the dock. Jobim, Quiet Nights. He pictured Jamie dancing dreamily to it, wine stem between her fingers.
"She's got good taste," he observed, reaching out for her hand, taking it, laying the pads of his fingertips on hers. She blushed again.
"I suppose this whole thing was my idea, wasn't it?"
"You agreed right away, and I mean, Jamie's gorgeous, probably enough to make you forget there's another man in the room, but I'm the one who wanted to do this."
"We both agreed." He leaned back in his chair, having screwed up the courage to go through with it, now beginning the process of screwing up the courage to walk into the other room and call it off. "Second thoughts?"
"I can send them home." He meant it, he tried to say it like it wasn't a disappointment.
"You still want to."
"I want you to be happy."
"You want to watch me make out with Jamie. Et cetera."
"…Et cetera. But not more than I want for you to be sure you—"
She'd taken off her wedding band, laid it carefully on the table. "Don't panic. We're just not going to wear them during this. Yours too, come on."
He didn't want to take it off, but she'd decided that was what they were going to do. He laid his ring atop hers. "Okay."
I've never been dead before.
Pete's been dead seventeen years; he says to relax, take some time and figure it all out. Aoibheann's been dead nearly a thousand; she stares through you, says nothing, then gets startled when she notices you're there. She reaches out, tries to touch your face, and then when she can't she goes back into her head. Pete says she was like this when she got here, but how would he know? Maybe there were others who knew, and they told him, but then where are they now?
I wish I knew the rules. I wish I had my ipod, and my headphones, the nice ones, the Beats. I wish there I wish I knew whether Cribs lived, he was in the passenger's seat. If he didn't, would he be here? Pete doesn't know.
I don't get wet, but I still wish it would stop raining.