Posts Tagged ‘advent’

(advent) Taking a look back

I promised in the Get Published podcast that I would put the links up for the other two Advent stories.  If you missed them, or if you just wanted to remind yourself of the world of Carter’s Cove, here they are:

The first Advent story started here: http://vg-ford.com/?p=317

The second Advent story started here: http://vg-ford.com/?p=850

 

Yes, there was a 2-year break between them.

(podcast) Get Published interview!

So, in case you missed it, I chatted with Mitchell Plested of the Get Published! podcast yesterday about serial writing in general, and the Carter’s Cove Advent stories in particular.   Here’s the link, if you want to listen to our conversation (which was pretty awesome!):

http://www.michellplested.com/getpublished/get-published-episode-123-vg-ford-discusses-serialized-fiction/

 

Mitchell’s podcast is awesome anyways, so you should be listening on a regular basis!

(advent) Upcoming goodies!

I’m sorry, folks.  I’ve been neglecting the blog this month, because I’m knee-deep in the Advent story for next month, and it’s NaNo, and yeah, that’s not an excuse, but there it is.  However, I have some goodies coming up, and I wanted to let you know!

 

First, I’ll be on Mitchell Plested’s Get Published  on Sunday, November 24, talking all things serial stories and Carter’s Cove.  So listen!  No spoilers.  I promise.

 

Secondly, Schrodinger has both a Facebook page and a Twitter feed that you can follow him on. He’s going to have some fun goodies, and he’s sending Christmas cards again this year!  Want to get a Christmas card from Schrodinger?  Leave him a private message on Facebook, or send him a message on Twitter, and he and Molly will send you a Christmas card!

 

Thirdly, the first day of this year’s Advent story is November 30th!!! Yes, it’s a prologue!  So don’t forget!

(writing) Realizations

It’s been a week of those for me.  Realizations that my almost 40-year-old body cannot exist on 3 hours of sleep and amazing amounts of caffeine and sugar.  Realizations that it’s okay to say “No, I can’t do that tonight, because I’m exhausted.”

 

Realizations that I don’t write like everyone else, and that’s okay.

 

It took me a long time to realize that last one, and I’m still working on it.  I am kind of addicted to writing books (okay, let’s be honest – I’m addicted to books, period) and one of the things that a lot of books say is that if you want to be a professional author, you should be working on multiple projects, because that’s where the money is.  You should have something in edits, something in first draft and something in preplanning, at the very least, at all times.

 

You know what?  My brain, she don’t work that way.

 

I realized this, yet again, as I was trying to figure out why I was having so many issues getting into the world of Baker.  You know why?  Because I’m still firmly in Sapph’s world and that world, which is full of ghosts, is VERY different from Abby’s world of sympathetic magic.  I just can’t be in both worlds at once.

 

So I’m not going to try to.  And I’m not going to try and write what other people think I should write.  Yes, I like paranormal romances.  But I’m not sure that’s what I want to write (which might be why Midsummerland isn’t going anywhere).  I like ghosts.  I like dark magic.  I like Schrodinger.

 

Which means there’s a new plan.  (Bear with me.  There might be a new plan every week.)  I’m going to finish Sapph’s rewrite, and then start working on Schrodinger’s next adventure.  After that?  I’m not sure.  I kind of want to write Faerytale Princess.  But I also kind of want to write something TOTALLY different – like, say, epic space opera.  With Spelljammer-type pirate ships.  Flying on the Cosmic Web.  (Yes, this has been in my brain for a while).  I also have an idea for a darker urban fantasy, involving elves, goblins and a yet-unnamed third magical race and the UN.  It’s complicated.  But fun.  Did I mention Oberon goes nuts in it?  Yeah, that too.

 

We’ll see.  Let’s finish Sapph first.

 

 

(writing) TGIF – seriously.

I should have remembered that Remicade weeks knock me for a loop.  I”m sorry I didn’t have a review for you guys for Wednesday, but I was so exhausted Monday and Tuesday that I just barely did my minimum for writing.  Between the Remicade and my allergies (which are just awful this year.  I swear, they get worse each year), I feel like I’m behind on everything.  I just gave up and called in sick to work on Thursday, so I could sleep.  Not catch up, sleep.  Yeah.

 

However, I’m still up to date on my streak, and I’m rapidly approaching 100 days of writing.   One hundred days.  I’m in awe of myself, really, and wondering if I can approach other things like this.  I just haven’t figured out how, but I’m working on it.  So, here’s the current state of the writing.

 

Into Thin Air  is chugging along.  I’m wondering if it will still be a novella by the time I’m done this rewrite, or if it will have grown into a short novel.  Either way, I’m starting to look at some markets for it.  It’s going to be e-published, either by an established publisher or, if I have to, by me.    I love this world, I love this story, and I’m determined to get it out.  Some how.  Anyways, my writing group saw the new first chapter, and really liked it.  Even those who said it wasn’t something they would normally read.  Yay!  For those who don’t remember, this is my ghost hunter book.  First in a series, one way or another.

 

Baker has a first chapter, and the beginnings of a second chapter, but I have some work to do, worldbuilding-wise.  This may sound weird, but I kind of hate worldbuilding.  Actually, I hate worldbuilding a lot.  Not the actual dreaming up the world, but the getting in and figuring out how the guts work.  Especially that.  Ugh.  I thought editing was my least favorite part of writing, but no, I really think worldbuilding is.  The reason I hate it is that I’m very much a big idea type of person.  I get plot ideas.  I get character ideas.  I really don’t get world ideas much.  I think this might be why I haven’t done any real fantasy stuff, and since I have now recognized this flaw in my writing, of course, I need to work on it.  So I’m going to start worldbuilding and outlining the Baker world for a while, and see what I can figure out.  Since I have three novels planned for this world, I really need to know what’s going on.

 

And, of course, I have to start outlining the third Advent story.  This one at least is a bit easier, because I get to work on a calendar schedule.  And the world is pretty well made.  Of course, this one is going down the rabbit hole (pretty literally), so I need to figure out some of the other worlds that they’ll get to.  And I think a certain pirate might show up….

 

That’s the state of the writing this week.  No snippets, but you might get one over the weekend.

(writing) We’ve crossed the 40k mark

That’s right.  In 2013 so far, I have written over 40,000 words.

 

That’s amazing.  That’s almost a NaNo novel.  It might be more than I wrote in total last year.  And it’s only halfway through May.  I’m seriously impressed.

 

And the big thing is that I’m doing it steadily, a little at a time.  I think I wrote about the Magic Spreadsheet before, but that’s what I’ve been using to keep my chain going.  I’m level 2 at the moment, which means I need to write a minimum of 300 words a day.  I’m averaging about 350 words a day (which will be good when I level up!), and it’s a good daily habit.  I can’t recommend it enough.  Of course, once I start editing, that will be a whole different thing.

 

Oh, and more news!  I have a plot idea for the next Advent Story (thank you, Dad!).  So there WILL be an Advent Story this year, and yes, Schrodinger will be back.  Maybe this year, I’ll even get things together enough to offer the first two Advent Stories as books.  Anything is possible!

(advent) December 25 – Merry Christmas

The reindeer leapt forward through the snow, seemingly tireless. Molly, Drew and Schrodinger were snuggled in the back, under a mountain of furs, protected from the wind by the tall figure of Old Man Winter. Drew and Schrodinger had succumbed to sleep at some point during the long ride, but Molly couldn’t, despite her fatigue. She simply sat, warm in the pile of furs, watching the terrain (what little she could see of it) slide by.

They had been traveling for hours. Realms flashed by them; she was certain they had taken several Roads, and where they would end up, only Old Man Winter knew. She wondered if he was still trying to make his decision, or if he was planning on kidnapping them. Maybe that’s it, she thought dully. He’s decided to destroy the Cove and the Gate, but he wants us safe. Why? Who knows.

The sledge shifted on the snow, and she slid down a bit deeper into the furs, ending up lying on her back. Above her, the sky was dark and clear, despite the snowflakes swirling around them. Stars sparkled, brilliant fireflies of ice and light against a black velvet backdrop. Would she ever see the familiar stars above the Cove again?

Her eyes slowly closed, fatigue finally winning against fear. Molly fell into darkness, lulled to sleep by the hissing of the sledge through the snow.

It was the absence of that hissing that woke her. The sledge had finally come to a halt, and she realized blearily that Old Man Winter was gone. Molly struggled to sit up, trying to shake the cotton wool from her head and see where he was.

She was almost free of the furs when she saw him. The eastern sky was beginning to shade from black to dark blue; soon the sun would be coming up, in rose and gold flames. Old Man Winter stood at the edge of a cliff, looking out and down on something. Molly slipped from the sledge and walked over to join him.

“Merry Christmas,” she said, when he didn’t say anything. There wasn’t much else she could say.

He grunted, and continued to look down. She followed his gaze, and saw the entire Cove laid out before her, still sleeping in the predawn light. The Christmas lights, normally turned off during the darkest hours of the night, were on for Christmas eve, and the Cove sparkled with brilliantly-colored light.

Still Old Man Winter said nothing, so he and Molly watched the sun creep up over the Eastern horizon, watched the stars dim and blink out one by one. In silence.

Drew joined her, then Schrodinger, still in silence. The four of them watched the sun rise over Carter’s Cove.

“Well?” Drew said finally, his arms around Molly. “Are you going to do it?”

“Do what?” Old Man Winter asked irritably.

Are you going to destroy the Cove’s Gate? Schrodinger asked.

Old Man Winter continued to look down at the Cove without answering.

“Are you?” Molly said softly. “Are we really so horrible that you have to do this?”

Then finally, Old Man Winter spoke.

“No,” he said. “No, I think I was wrong about the Cove, and wrong about the people who inhabit it.”

He held his hands out before him, and snow danced over his palm, spinning around and around. One soft breath, and the snow spread out over the Cove, a final dusting of sugar sparkling in the light of the rising sun. Then Old Man Winter turned to them and motioned back to the sledge. “Come on,” he said. “You have presents to open.”

The ride back to Molly’s parents’ house was quiet, but unlike the ride from before, this one was full of quiet joy, not despair. Molly leaned back against Drew, letting the wind blow her sleepiness away. There would be time to sleep later.

As they drew up to the house, Molly wondered if Lily was already up. It was early, but not early enough for Jack, the half blue-tick hound, to not notice the reindeer. He tore out of the house, baying joyfully, and Lily, rubbing sleep from her eyes, followed.

She saw the reindeer and her little eyes widened. “Santa?” she breathed.

Old Man Winter smiled down at her, but didn’t get down off the sledge. Drew and Schrodinger jumped out to intercept the youngster before she ran into the snow in her bare feet, but as Molly got off the sledge, Old Man Winter put a hand on her shoulder. Surprised, she turned back to him.

“Merry Christmas, Molly,” Old Man Winter said, and held out his hand. The snow danced and spun over his palm, and as she watched, it solidified into glass. Within the globe, she saw a miniature version of the Cove, Christmas lights glimmering and snow glittering. He handed the globe to her and smiled.

“Merry Christmas,” she said, and stepped back from the sledge, holding the globe.

The reindeer reared and took off in a spray of white. Molly stood and watched until they were out of sight. Then she turned around to see Drew, holding Lily, with Schrodinger and Jack next to him.

“Merry Christmas,” she said. “Welcome home.”

Drew smiled. “Welcome home.”

(advent) December 24 – Christmas Eve!

It’s finally here!  Christmas Eve!  Are you excited yet????

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“Do you see her yet?”

Not yet, but I’m not surprised, Schrodinger said.  Lai said they were going to go out for a Christmas Eve drink after work.  The CrossCat jumped down from the window and looked at Drew.  How much more time do you need?

Drew taped down the last flap on the box he was wrapping.  “Done!” he said, and slid the box under the tree.  “Now all we have to do is wrap the stuff for her family, because I’m sure she’s done with mine.”

Really?  Schrodinger winked at him.  I don’t know, she mentioned something about a coal deposit she had to hit…  Then he ducked out of the way as Drew threw a bow at him. 

“Must be for you, Cat!” Drew said, chuckling.  “I haven’t done anything to deserve coal!”

Schrodinger batted the bow back at him, and he ducked, then threw another one at him, and the fight was on.  By the time Molly opened the door, there were shreds of ribbon and paper balls made of tissue paper and wrapping paper all over the kitchen and living room, and tinsel hung in the air like confetti.

“What is going on?” she asked, her hands on her hips and a  stern expression on her face.  Drew and Schrodinger froze in mid-tussle, staring up at her in guilty horror.

Drew had pieces of tinsel and ribbon hanging from his hair; he had a death grip on an empty tube of wrapping paper and there was tape stuck to his sweater.  Schrodinger’s teeth were sunk into the other end of the tube, a huge bow was stuck to his back and one of his paws had a box around it.

Molly looked at them, and at the room, which was awash with glitter, pieces of paper and tape, and then looked back at them.  Both Drew and Schrodinger waited for the explosion.  At least we didn’t hit the tree, Drew thought, as she continued to look at them.

“Hi,” he said finally, when the silence had stretched too long.  “Um, we were just…cleaning up.”  He dropped his end of the wrapping tube.  “Right, Schrodinger?”

Uh, right!  The CrossCat dropped the tube as well, and hurriedly kicked off the box on his foot. 

“Of course.”  Molly looked around the room again.  “I’ll just go put this stuff away.”

Drew and Schrodinger exchanged looks as she retreated to the kitchen.  They heard the refrigerator door open, then close, and then the giggling started.  They both breathed a sight of relief.

“Let’s get this cleaned up,” Drew said, grabbing the trash can beside the couch.  Schrodinger put the much-damaged cardboard tube into the trash and then helped him pick up the various debris.  By the time Molly came back in with a couple of filled wine glasses, the living room had been restored to some semblance of normality.

“At least you didn’t hit the tree,” she noted, handing the glass to Drew.

“No, we were trying to be careful.”  Drew showed the glass to Schrodinger, who sniffed then wrinkled his nose. 

Ick, the CrossCat said.  How can you drink that stuff?

“Same way you drink out of the horse troughs when we visit the stable,” Molly said, settling down on the floor in front of the Christmas tree.  “Did you guys at least get everything wrapped before you decided to fight?”

“We just have the stuff for Lily and Jack,” Drew said, joining her.  “That’s it.”

It was a quiet way to spend an evening – he was an only child, and his cousins had all been older, so he’d never really shopped for a little girl before.  Molly had gotten plenty of things for both Lily and her dog, and the pile of wrapped presents grew steadily.

“Just one question,” Drew said, when they were finally finished.

“Mmm?” Molly asked, settling back against him.

“How are we getting all this stuff to your parents’ house?”

She giggled.  “Nathan’s coming by in a bit to pick them all up, while Lily’s helping Mom decorate cookies.  We just have to get ourselves over there tomorrow, and I figured we could take the snowmobile tomorrow.”

“Works for me.”

They sat there in the glow of the Christmas tree, sipping wine and listening to WCOV replay the King’s College choral from earlier in the day.  Schrodinger was sleeping in his catbed near the tree.

Nathan showed up about 10 o’clock to get the presents, and Molly and Drew helped him carry them down to the car.  “Be careful driving home,” Molly told him.  “This snow is pretty thick.”

“Don’t worry, I’ll go slow,” her younger brother promised.  “I’ll text you when I get home.”

They watched him drive off, and then went back upstairs.  Molly was yawning, but insisted on staying up until Nathan texted.

“Well, here,” Drew said, handing her a small wrapped box.  “You might as well open this while we’re waiting.”

She smiled at him.  “The last ornament?”

“I couldn’t miss Christmas Eve, could I?” he replied, as she opened it.  Today’s was a wine-dark crimson, with gold beads at the intersections.  It was nearly the opposite of the one he’d given her the day before.

“This was amazing,” Molly said, after she’d hung it on the little tree on the dining room table.  The tree glowed with all the colors of the beads.  “Thank you.”

“No, thank you,” Drew said.  “I couldn’t have gotten through this year without you.”

“That’s supposed to be my line, isn’t it?” Molly teased him, and he kissed the tip of her nose.

“It’s true, though,” Drew said, and then gave her a real kiss.

The buzzing of her phone broke them apart.  “Nathan must have made it home,” Molly said, picking up the phone from the table and looking at it.  “That was fast.”

“Too fast,” Drew said, craning his head to look at the screen.  “That’s not from Nathan.”

“No.”

The message was from a number he didn’t recognize, and from the furrow in her brow, Molly didn’t recognize it either.  She clicked on the message and it popped up.

“Get Schrodinger and Drew, dress warm and come outside.”

They exchanged looks.  “Who could it be?” Molly asked.

“I don’t know,” Drew said, reaching for his coat.  “Let’s go find out.”

Molly roused Schrodinger and together the three of them went down to the street.  Nothing but white snowflakes greeted them.  The entire street was empty – between the snow and the fact that it was late on Christmas Eve, everyone else had retired to their warm houses.

Drew was about to tell them to go back in, that it must have been a prank, when Schrodinger stiffened.  “What do you hear?”  he asked the CrossCat.

Bells!  I hear bells!  Like before!

And then, out through the snow came the massive reindeer, bells ringing as they pulled Old Man Winter and his giant sledge along.   They came right up beside the trio and Old Man Winter, wrapped in his furs, looked down at them.

“Don’t just stand there,” he grumbled.  “Get in.  We have unfinished business.”

(advent) December 23 – The day after the Ball

Yep, it’s counting down to the final stretch!

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Molly yawned and considered snuggling back into sleep for a bit.  Aunt Margie was opening late, considering everything that had happened the night before, so she didn’t have to get up.  All in all, spending the morning in bed with her two favorite boys sounded like a perfectly splendid way to start her day.

She rolled over to see if Drew was awake.  Schrodinger was still sleeping, a warm lump by her feet, but the other half of the bed, which she’d been sure was occupied last night…was empty.

Did I dream it?  Molly thought, stretching out a hand.   The sheets were cool to the touch.  Was it all just a dream?

And then the smell of frying bacon wafted through the room, and she sighed.  Not a dream after all.

Schrodinger’s eyes opened sleepily as the bacon smell hit his nostrils.  Breakfast?

“It certainly smells like it, but we can save you some if you want.”

His eyes closed again, and he snuggled back down in the nest he’d made in the blankets at the foot of the bed.  Molly laughed and slid from the bed, shivering a little as her feet hit the floor.   Once again, she put “getting a rug for the bedroom” on her mental list.

Drew looked up when she came into the kitchen.  “Morning, beautiful,” he said, as if he hadn’t been gone nearly a month.  “Tea’s ready.”

“There is nothing sexier than a guy cooking bacon in a tee-shirt and pajama pants,” Molly said, coming up behind him and giving him a hug before she made a beeline for the coffee pot.  He’d loaded the top with her favorite Christmas tea, and she poured cups for both of them as he transferred the crisp bacon to a pan that he slipped into the warm oven.

“It feels odd to sit here and watch you cook,” Molly said, perching on one of the stools at the breakfast bar.  “Nice, but odd.”

Drew laughed as he broke eggs into the bacon grease.  “I’ve been a little worried about this, to be honest.  Not sure how my plebian efforts will stand up to your magic.”

“Bacon and eggs sounds heavenly,” Molly said.  “And there are muffins in the fridge, if you want.”

“Already warming in the oven.”

“And you were worried,” Molly said, laughing a little.  “You have everything under control.”

Drew looked around.  “No Schrodinger?”

“I told him we’d save him some.  He’s still sleeping.”

Schrodinger had danced the night away at the ball, thrilled beyond belief at Drew’s reappearance and the fact that there had been three other CrossCats there, not the least of which being the Librarian.  Molly and Drew had barely seen him most of the night, catching random glimpses of him on the dance floor.  He’d been so tired that he’d fallen asleep on the ride home, and hadn’t really stirred, even when Molly took his bow tie off and put him onto the bed.

“He was very excited last night about those other Cats,” Drew said.  “Especially the big black one.”

“That’s the Librarian, his teacher.”  Molly sipped her tea.  “He worships her.”

“Ah.”

The kitchen grew silent as Drew concentrated on his eggs and Molly sipped her tea, enjoying the homey feel of the morning.  It was still snowing out, she realized after taking a peek out the dining room window; a light, fluffy snow that muffled everything and left the world enveloped in peace and cold.

“What are your plans today?” she asked, as he slid a plate of fried eggs, crispy bacon and cranberry-orange muffins dripping butter towards her.

“I’ve got shopping to do,” he said, putting his own plate down across from her.  “And I might see if Schrodinger wants to come with me.”

“He might.”

Might what?

Both Molly and Drew turned to see Schrodinger stumble into the kitchen, his eyes still half-closed.  “You could have slept more,” Molly said, getting up to get him his normal morning cup of Earl Grey.  “We don’t have to be into work until noon, and it’s barely 9 o’clock.”

Hungry.  Schrodinger didn’t even try for the stool; he just stood beside it, leaning against it for stability.  Molly tried to suppress a giggle.

“Well, here, eat this and then you can go back to bed,” she said, putting his tea and the plate that Drew handed her in front of him.  “You can spend time with Drew today.  He needs help shopping.”

‘Kay.  Schrodinger made it through about half the plate and all his tea before he turned and shambled back to bed.

“Think he made it on to the bed?” Drew asked Molly, as they finished their breakfast together.

“I’ll be surprised if he made it out of the living room,” she said. 

They found him snuggled under the Christmas tree in the living room, fast asleep with one of his stuffed toys with him.  Molly ran for her camera – it was too cute a picture to pass up.  Then she and Drew curled up on the couch together for a bit and enjoyed a second cup of tea while he told her everything that had happened while he was gone.

“Do you think he’ll really do it?” Molly asked, leaning her head back against his chest.  “Do you really think he’ll destroy the Gate?”

“I don’t know,” Drew said.  “He’s a very complex man.  I would have said you managed to convince him, but Ember seems to think that he’s happy because he’s made a decision, and that the last time she saw him like this, he destroyed the town in question.”

Molly sighed.  “Well, at least he let you come home before he cut us off from the rest of the world.”

“Maybe he won’t do it.”

“Maybe.”

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Drew and Schrodinger walked with her as far as CrossWinds Books, then turned to walk into the downtown area.  Molly, unsure as to what she would find in her kitchen, had come in at 11, just to give herself time to clean up anything the boys might have left behind.  The store was quiet and still, just the way she liked it.

She needn’t have worried.  The kitchen was spotless, as was the tea room, and there was a fire ready to be kindled in the wood stove.  She dropped her stuff in its corner of the kitchen, then went out to start the fire.  When it was burning merrily, she went back into the kitchen…

And froze.  Sitting on one of the stools was Old Man Winter.

“Good morning,” Molly said after a few moments.  “I wasn’t expecting you this early.”

He grunted.  “Wanted to see you before anyone else came in.”

“Okay.”  Molly went over to the stove and turned on tea water.  “Can I get you a cup of tea?”

“Nope.  Not staying that long.”  Old Man Winter hesitated.  “But a cookie wouldn’t be a bad thing.”

“I’m not sure what I have, but let me look and I’ll get a box together for you,” Molly said, heading into the pantry to see what was left.  Her luck held: there was nearly a full box of peppermint snowflakes, and several of the orange scones he’d complimented her on.  She put together the box and brought it out to him.  “You’re in luck.”

He actually smiled as he looked inside.  “Thank you, Molly.  Your cookies have brightened this winter for me.”

“I’m glad,” she said.  “Are you sure you wouldn’t like a cup of tea?  I can have this water hot fast.”

“Maybe one cup.” 

Molly poured both of them a cup of water, then laid her hands on top of the mugs and concentrated.  This wasn’t a part of her gift she used often, but it was handy.  When she pulled her hands up, steam drifted up from the now-hot water.  “What kind of tea would you like?”

“The Christmas blend, please.”

“Good choice,” Molly said, putting one of her favorite tea-bags in each mug.  While the tea was steeping, she looked over at him.  “What did you want to tell me?  That you’ve made a decision?”

“No,” Old Man Winter said.  “I haven’t made a decision yet.”

“What can I do to influence you?”  Might as well go for the punch, after all.  What could it hurt?

Old Man Winter actually laughed gently.  “Ah, Molly, I will miss you.”

“You don’t have to,” she said.  “You are welcome any time.”

He shook his head.  “No, I don’t want to influence the weather too badly.  Once I leave, you probably won’t see me for at least ten years.”  When she cocked her head, he said, “Old Man Winter isn’t just my name, Molly.  I carry the cold with me – unless you want to see the Cove locked in snow for a long time, I’ll have to avoid the area for a while.”

“I’ll miss you,” Molly said, and found she meant it.

Old Man Winter smiled.  “I’ll miss you too.”  Then his eyes took on a teasing light.  “Or at least your cooking.”

“I’ll have to find a forwarding address to send care packages.”

He laughed and drained his tea, then got up to leave.

“Wait.”  Molly put a hand on his arm.  “When will you decide?”

“Christmas Day,” Old Man Winter said, picking up the box of cookies.  “I’ll let you know on Christmas Day.”

And then he was gone.

(advent) December 22 – The Snow Queen’s Ball!

Molly smoothed the front of her dress and picked up her evening bag. Turning to Schrodinger, she said, “Well, what do you think?”

I think you look beautiful, Schrodinger said. Drew won’t be able to keep his eyes off you.

“If he’s there, you mean.” But she smiled and turned back to the mirror one last time. Unlike last year, this year she’d chosen a slim sheath dress of dark blue that ended just above her knees, and dark blue shoes. The dress curved up over one shoulder, and left the other one bare. Drew’s snowflakes hung from her ears and nestled between her breasts, glittering in the lights of the mini Christmas tree on the table. She and the Trio had gone out that morning to have their hair and nails done; the result was a sleek up-do that left a fall of curls trailing down the left side of her neck. “I hope he is.”

There was a beep from the street; Molly leaned over and peeked out the window. Lai’s Range Rover was parked out in front of the building. “They’re here!” she said, dropping the curtain. “Are you ready?”

Yes. Don’t forget your coat. Schrodinger swiped a paw across his whiskers and jumped down. Molly had to admit he looked very dapper in his bow tie.

“Hardly. This dress is pretty but not very warm.” Molly went over to the closet. “Luckily, Aunt Margie let me borrow her mink.”

The full-length fur coat fitted her perfectly, just like her aunt had promised. Feeling a bit like an old-time movie star, Molly hurried down the stairs, Schrodinger on her heels.

“Wow, you look fabulous!” Lai said, as they slid into the car. “Where did you get that coat?”

“It’s Aunt Margie’s, and if I get anything on it, I’ll be killed,” Molly said, clicking her seatbelt in place.

“Darn.” Lai chuckled. “Ah well.” She looked in the rear-view mirror. “You all set back there?”

Ready to go!

“Then we’re off!” Lai threw the Rover into gear and they headed out to the snow.

It wasn’t hard to find. There was a line of cars headed out to the Snow Queen’s Ball – Lai fell in behind a large limo. “You ready for this?” she asked.

“Of course.” Molly flipped down the mirror and checked her makeup one last time. “Do you really think he’s going to ask her?”

“That’s the rumor. And I heard he’s going to ask the Snow Queen’s blessing, too.” Lai stepped on the gas as the line moved up a bit.

“That will be awesome.” Molly flipped the mirror back up.

“It will be even more awesome if she lets Drew show up.” Lai glanced over at her. “Any news?”

Molly shook her head.

“Well, hopefully she lets him come.”

They didn’t talk more until they got to the clearing. Lai parked the car and they stepped into the night snow.

Schrodinger jumped down, and then stiffened. Do you smell that?

“Smell what?” Molly sniffed the air.

It’s snow.

“It’s winter,” Lai said. “And it’s been snowing off and on for the last two days.”

Not like this, Schrodinger said. He looked up at Molly. This smells like him.

Him. “Old Man Winter?”

Yes.

“Then let’s go!” Molly hurried towards the clearing, both Schrodinger and Lai hot on her heels.

They dropped their coats off with the valet and then entered the clearing. As always, it was like entering a fantasy winter world, one where snow fell but the temperature was that of a warm spring day. Molly looked around, hoping to spot either Drew or Old Man Winter.

She didn’t see either of them, but she did spot the Snow Queen, sitting on her throne and watching the dancers. There was already music playing, and people were out on the dance floor.

“Can you find him?” she asked Schrodinger.

If I can’t, I’ll turn in my nose. He was off before he finished the sentence.

“Come on.” Lai took Molly’s arm. “Let’s go find Noemi and Sue.”

<><>

“Come on, boy! I swear, you take longer than a woman to get ready!”

Drew rolled his eyes and finished tying his tie. “I’m almost ready.”

“The ball will be over before we even get there!” Old Man Winter snapped.

“Hardly.” Drew ran his hands through his hair once more, and then grabbed his bag. Funny how little he actually had with him. “All right,” he said. “I’m ready.”

“About time,” Old Man Winter grumbled.

“Hey, I haven’t seen Molly in a month!” Drew said. “You can’t blame me for wanting to look good. Besides,” and he gave the old man a look, “I see you took some pains in how you look too.”

“And it didn’t take me three hours.” Old Man Winter took a hold of Drew’s arm. “Hold on.”

Snow swirled around them, blinding Drew momentarily. When he was able to see again, he realized two things.

One was that he was warm again. Almost too warm.

The second was that he was surrounded by people.

The music faltered and died as he straightened up. Everyone had taken a few steps back, probably unnerved by Old Man Winter’s entrance. Drew shook the last few flakes of snow from his head, and then he saw her.

Molly and Lai stood together, both looking at him, eyes wide and mouths open. The dark blue satin dress hugged every curve, and the blue heels added inches to her height. She looked sleek, sophisticated, and utterly perfect. He dropped his bag and pushed through the crowd to her.

Folks melted out of the way: all Drew could see was Molly, standing in a pool of white light, snowflakes sparkling on her ears and around her neck. Then she was in his arms, and her lips met his.

“You made it,” she whispered, her eyes bright, once the kiss broke.

“I promised I would,” he said, and kissed her again.

Then she pulled back, fear on her face. “Are you leaving again?”

“No.” Drew pulled her back into his arms, and rested his chin on the top of her head. “No, I’m back to stay.”