(advent) Thursday, December 13

Molly? Do you have a minute?

“I always have time for you,” Molly said, turning from the dishwasher and smiling down at Schrodinger, who had come in to the kitchen quietly. Her smile faltered when she saw the droop of his ears and tail. “What’s wrong? Are you feeling okay?”

You and Drew would tell me if you didn’t want me to live with you anymore, wouldn’t you?

The tone of his voice broke her heart. Molly knelt down and hugged him to her. “We would, but that day will never come,” she said fiercely. “This is your home for as long as you want.”

He relaxed into her. Can I ask another question?

“Of course.”

What have you and Drew been talking about when you thought I wasn’t around?

Molly chuckled. “Trust you to sniff that out,” she said. “It’s a secret, but I trust you.” She whispered into his ear. “But you can’t tell anyone else,” she said at the end.

Schrodinger’s eyes were wide. Really?

“Really.” Molly nodded. “Are you ready for that?”

I can’t wait! Excitement had chased all the despair from his frame, and he put both his front paws on her shoulders. This is going to be the best!!!

“I hope so!” Molly said, hugging him again. “Feeling better now?”

Loads!

“Good, because I think I just heard Corrine’s jeep come into the yard,” Molly said, getting up. “I wonder if Zoey’s feeling better today?”

There was no Zoey or Aurora in the group that came into the kitchen, although Corrine said she should be out and about the next day. “Her fever is gone, but her mother wanted her to rest up,” Molly’s sister-in-law said. “You two ready to join us?”

“I just need my coat,” Molly said.

“Don’t forget the Advent calendar!” Kaylee said.

“It’s still at the bookstore, silly,” Molly said, tousling her blonde hair on the way. “We have to run an errand for Aunt Margie, so we’re going there first.”

“Grab your big boots,” Corrine said. “It’s snowing to beat the band on. I’m not sure how late we’re going to stay out tonight.”

Corrine hadn’t been lying. Small flakes fell with determination, making their lights all but useless. “I wonder if we should cancel,” Molly said softly, looking out the window.

“We’ll see,” Corrine said. “I know how much they want to do this.”

“Yes, but not if it’s dangerous.”

Aunt Margie said the same thing when they got into the bookstore. “I’m surprised you folks came out,” she said. “It looks like this snow is going to park itself over the Cove and not move for a few days.”

“We couldn’t not come!” Kaylee said. “We need to do the Advent calendar!” Schrodinger, Lily, Jack, and Gideon all nodded in agreement at that.

“Well, I’d do it quickly,” her great-aunt said. “Soon they’ll probably close the roads.”

Molly’s eyes widened. “Really? They don’t normally do that.”

“Hudson just announced it over WCOV,” Aunt Margie said. “So unless you’re planning on taking a magic sleigh, I’d hurry it up.”

Molly ushered them in to the kitchen. “Let’s go, let’s go!”

As if the kitten had sensed their urgency, he was already moving into the hall that connected the conservatory to something that looked something like a kitchen, except minus the stoves. There were two huge sinks, though, and a large cabinet that held china dishes and mug. It wasn’t a large room, but even here, where it looked like the household did nothing but wash dishes, there was a garland of greenery strung around the edge of the ceiling, and a candle with a little bunch of holly burned on the windowsill. The little cat jumped up on a stool and then peered into the sink.

“Don’t get wet! Or break the dishes!” Gideon said quickly.

Luckily, the kitten didn’t jump all the way in. Instead, he dipped a paw in, as if he were stirring whatever was in there. A huge soap bubble came up from the sink and popped as if it were poked.

“Be careful! You have an interesting trip ahead of you!” Then, the smoke words swirled together and shot out of the calendar, into the kitchen and then out the kitchen door.

“Follow it!” Lily shouted, and they did. It didn’t go very far, either. It stopped right at the counter where DC was standing with a large box, and burst into sparkles above her head.

What are you sending, DC? Schrodinger asked.

“Nothing,” DC said, grinning at them. “But you guys have volunteered to take these over to the library for their giving tree!”

“What’s a giving tree?” Kaylee asked.

“You’ll find out when you get there!” DC said, and hefted the box. “Let me bring this out to the car for you.”

Once they were back in the Jeep and buckled in, Corrine steered out into the road. The snow seemed to be annoyed that they were out, and Molly could barely see in front of them. She looked at her sister-in-law. “Maybe we should head home instead?”

Corrine bit her lip as they moved through the curtain of falling snow. “Well, we’re heading that way,” she said finally. “If we need to, we’ll stop at the house and you guys can…”

Look out!

Jack’s warning bark echoed in the jeep’s interior as another car loomed out of the storm and nearly hit them. Corrine wrenched on the wheel and the big vehicle ended up in a snow bank.

“Is everyone okay?” Molly asked, twisting around to see the kids and animals in the back seat.

We’re okay, Schrodinger assured her. We were all buckled in. Who was that?

“I don’t know, but they didn’t stop,” Corrine said grimly, putting her flashers on. “And I think we might be stuck.” She put the jeep in reverse, and sighed as the wheels spun. “Never mind think. We are stuck.”

“Oh no!” Molly said, pulling her phone out of her pocket. “Well, I guess we should call someone with a sleigh.” She looked out the window. They were about 3/4 of a mile from the store, but walking in the storm would be just as dangerous. “I wonder if Pavel will come get us.”

But no one picked up at Brynna and Paul’s. Molly was dialing the Station when all of a sudden Kaylee said, “I hear bells!”

“I bet it’s Old Man Winter!” Lily said excitedly. “He’s coming to save us!”

There was indeed bells coming, and moments later, two huge reindeer heads loomed out of the storm. But it wasn’t Old Man Winter driving the sleigh. Instead, Kris looked down at them and said, “Sure, and this is a mess. Would you like a lift?”

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