Edmund wrote his mother’s directions down on a scrap of paper. He didn’t much hold with fancy smartphones. It was something he and Andria had in common.
She could tell him the way to the gypsy caravan without a moment’s thought, though she hadn’t been there in years herself.
“Always be reverent,” she warned him. “No matter how rude and condescending they are. They talk down to us because they are powerful enough to do whatever they like, and they know it. But they’re not entirely capricious. They’ll listen to you, and they might help.”
Edmund rehearsed what he was going to say many times before he knocked at the door. If he was lucky, the fae — his mother’s people — would recognize him as their own. If he wasn’t, what did he have to lose? Did he have anything to lose?
“You have much to learn, and clearly your mother is not going to teach you,” they said. “We will answer your questions, but we will do it in our own time. Until then, you will learn what we want to teach you.”
Edmund could not have wished for more.
“It’s sweet of you to make me hot cocoa!” Victoria told him that evening. “You’re not usually the most domestic kind of guy.”
“I’m very good and putting mugs in the new hot beverage machine and pushing the ‘cocoa’ button,” Edmund said.
“I’m not sure, but it seems like you might want to talk about something,” Victoria said.
“You’re right,” Edmund said. “You’re a lot better with people than I am.”
Vickie raised her eyebrows. “I think you might be the first person who actually thinks I’m good with people.”
“I want to help someone, but I don’t know if she wants my help,” Edmund said. “I’m nervous about asking her, but at this point I need her to work with me.”
Victoria took a long sip of cocoa. “I’m really not that good with people,” she said.
“Maybe it’s just that I’m so very bad at it,” Edmund said darkly.
“I can listen, though,” Victoria said. “I mean, if you want to work through your ideas for how to talk to her.”
“That’s a brilliant idea,” Edmund said.
The following evening, he knocked nervously on the door of a Victorian bungalow.
He had spent many long nights of research simply tracking down where she lived. He had no idea how she would react when she saw him.
Marisela Flynn was in front of his eyes so fast that Edmund wasn’t sure whether had blinked too long or she bewitched him.
“We seem to keep finding each other,” she said, eyeing him. “But this doesn’t seem to be happenstance.”
Edmund swallowed. “I want to help you,” he said.
“You think I need help?” she asked, raising an arched eyebrow.
Edmund forced himself to look her straight in her sinister, luminescent eyes. “Can you tell me you don’t?”
Her lips twitched. “Touché. What, exactly, makes you think you have some way to help me?”
“I don’t know, but I think I might,” he said. “Can you trust me?”
“Trust,” she said slowly. “I haven’t thought about that in a long time. I’ll follow where you lead and won’t hurt you, for now, if that’s the assurance you need.”
He led her back the way he’d come that morning, but as they drew closer to the fae caravan, Marisela slowed down.
“The fae are the enemy of my kind. Do you want to get me killed?” she demanded.
“You have my protection,” Edmund said with more confidence than he felt.
Marisela chucked darkly. “Well, that settles all my worries.”
“Please sit down,” Edmund said, gesturing at an ornate table that held a huge crystal ball.
“Are you going to tell my fortune,” Marisela asked.
“No,” Edmund retorted, “but I might learn something to help your future. Please let me concentrate.”
Then he fumbled his first burst of magic and nearly dropped the priceless magical artifact on the ground. Keep it together, he warned himself silently. Please keep it together.
Marisela was abruptly riveted by the orb. “I can see my father!” she whispered.
“He’s your sire,” Edmund said. “It’s because of him that you are a vampire.”
“He wanted an enforcer for his battle with his ancient nemesis,” Marisela said bitterly. “My father has been at war with another vampire for control of the underworld for generations. I wouldn’t help him. Now I’m alone.”
“Think about him,” Edmund instructed, growing more confident. “He’s your tie to the undead. I have to learn about that connection.”
“That’s not hard,” Marisela said darkly. “I spend most of my time thinking about him.”
They stared at the orb in silence for a long time. Mists swirled within it. Sparks flew around it.
At last he let it fall back to its cradle and stood up. His dragon flew down to rest on his arm, squawking fondly. He stroked her scaly head thoughtfully.
“Are we done here?” Marisela asked. “Did you learn what you need to know?”
“I’ve learned all I can,” Edmund said.
“Do you still think you can help me?” Marisela asked, her voice carefully neutral.
“Maybe,” Edmund admitted. “But we won’t know until I try. Do you want me to try?”
Marisela didn’t hesitate. “Yes.”
So, it’s been a long time. I hope it won’t be so long until the next post. I know at least one person is still reading!
It’s been a really difficult year. It seems like life has been one drama after another, and there hasn’t been emotional energy for anything creative. It feels good to want to do something. I miss my Sims.