Busy day! For starters, Geoffie got a hair cut, I got goodies in the mail, and I’m making progress on a shawl!
Also, Squish is amazing.
But other than that–it was a work day, and part of the work is wrapping up Fish in the next week. Which means wrapping up the Moon/Fish as well. Enjoy!
* * *
The Surprise Visit–Part 3
“Ellery!” Ellery’s mother looked impeccable. Hair pulled back into a shortened bun, makeup done with razor line perfection, cool linen suit and sensible ecru pumps, Taylor Cramer never traveled with anything less than aplomb.
But what in the fuck was she doing here.
“Ellery, who’s at the door at fuck all’y’all in the morning?”
“Jackson, could you get my bags please?”
Ellery turned to find Jackson, mid pit-scratch, in his boxers having a panic attack.
“Oh dear God.”
“Jackson, my mother’s here.”
“For sweet fuck’s sake!”
Ellery grimaced. The weird thing was, he was almost certain Jackson liked his mother. Revered her in fact. But that didn’t mean she didn’t scare the crap out of him. “Jackson, maybe come get her bag like she asked.”
“Hello, Lucy Satan,” Jackson muttered as he came to the door. “Are you moving in?” His eyes bulged out and Ellery managed to look behind his mother.
“You brought a trunk?” he asked, his voice pitching in dismay.
“Don’t get too excited, Ellery. Some of those are gifts for Jackson’s family. Thank you so much, Jackson–I’ll take the guest room, per usual.”
Well yeah, but usually Ellery’s mother had stayed with them when there was something wrong.
“Smells like dead grandma’s,” Jackson mumbled, wrinkling his nose.
Taylor Cramer smirked, and Ellery had to look twice to make sure it was his mother. “That’s the perfume you bought me for Hanukah sweetheart. I’m so glad you like it.”
“I thought it was Christmas,” Jackson mumbled, still pulling the giant wheeled case behind him. “I am so confused.”
Ellery took his mother’s smaller case and kissed her cheek, ushering her in. “It’s lovely to see you,” he said diplomatically. “Is there an occasion?”
“Mm…” she said, smiling serenely, which told Ellery that yes, there was, but it wasn’t like she was going to tell him. “Let’s just say that I’ve become enchanted by your charming little valley, and I understand there are all sorts of outdoor spring activities that we should partake in. Jackson? Did you hear that?”
“I don’t understand a word of it!” Jackson called back. He came plodding back into the living room as Ellery passed him on the way to the bedroom with the smaller case. “You’re here so we can go outside?”
“Exactly,” she said. “And I understand you have a new vehicle.”
Jackson’s eyes widened. “The tank?”
“The tank?” Ellery echoed, having settled as much as he could in the guest room.
“Yes. New, isn’t it? Weren’t your friends going to outfit it to make sure it was the last vehicle you would ever need?”
Sonny and Ace had retrofitted the SUV–an Infinity QX3–and reinforced the panels, removed padding, added bulletproof glass and added custom seatbelt webbing, not to mention several highly illegal things they’d done to the suspension and engine itself. The result was… well, a very sturdy vehicle.
“It might be,” Ellery said diplomatically, “but I always thought it would be the last car you’d ever be caught dead in, much less escorted alive.”
His mother patted his cheek. Patted his goddamned cheek. “Oh, Ellery. Son. Shows how much you really know about me. Now it’s a lovely April day, the sun is shining. The birds are singing. Let’s go get some donuts and go to the zoo, shall we?”
Jackson’s eyes hadn’t gotten any smaller, not since he’d opened them to see Taylor Cramer on the doorstep. “The zoo.”
“Donuts?” Ellery squeaked. “You showed up on our porch to… to…”
“To go see the zoo and have donuts,” she said happily. “I’ll just make some coffee while you two shower and change. Hustle, boys. There’s so much I want to see!”
The two of them stumbled into the bedroom, Ellery in the pajamas he’d been wearing when he’d opened the door, Jackson in his boxer shorts, both of them wearing the veil of confusion like a miasma.
“I…” Ellery struggled. Jackson’s warm hand on his waist was not reassuring. “Please don’t leave me because my mother has done the first spontaneous thing I’ve ever seen her do in thirty-one years.”
Jackson half-laughed and kissed his neck. “I won’t leave you. But you know, this doesn’t seem spontaneous in the least. I’m pretty sure she’s hiding something from us.”
Ellery stared at him. “How would you even guess that?”
Jackson shrugged and gave a soft smile. “Hunch.”
“But what do we do?”
“What would we do under normal circumstances?”
Ellery sighed and let his shoulders slump. “Anything my mother wanted.”
Jackson nodded and kissed his neck again. “And hurry, counselor, or I’m going to do one or two things she might want me to do at all…”
Ellery hustled to the bathroom and heard his mother cooing at the cat in the sudden quiet.
His mother. There indefinitely. Oh dear lord, what had they done to deserve this?
* * *
Two days earlier:
Burton blew out a breath and dialed the number.
“Taylor Cramer,” said Ellery’s mother, her voice crisp and no-bullshit.
“Yes, ma’am. This is–“
“I remember you from the waiting room,” she said, with hardly a wobble in her voice. “Is anything wrong with my son?”
God, she was quick. “No, ma’am. We just… I’m on a secure line, but I don’t think you are.”
“MM. Understood. Where would you like me to call you from?”
“Sacramento,” he said promptly. She would know what that meant.
“Indeed? Anywhere particular in Sacramento?”
“As many public places as possible.” He and Jason had it on good authority that this particular death squad liked to work in quiet and secret, and made things look like an accident. Well, try that if Ellery, Jackson, and Taylor were touring the outdoor delights of the city in the spring.
“For how long should I call you from there?”
Burton had no idea. “An indefinite length of time. I’ll contact you when you can go back to using your home phone.”
There was a silence. A long, uncomfortable silence, during which time Burton squirmed uncomfortably.
“When you contact me, you’d better have a damned good explanation for that, young man.”
Burton blew out a sigh of relief. Well, yeah. She deserved no less. “You will, ma’am. I promise.”
“Of course. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must procure some plane tickets and go shopping. I’m not arriving on that doorstep without copious amounts of random gifts, you understand?”
“Understood, ma’am. Happy travels.”
“You too young man. And say hello to your young baker, while you’re at it. I did enjoy meeting him as well.”
Burton thought of Ernie, at home, making donuts. “I’ll give him your regards, ma’am.”
Burton hung up and looked in agony at Jason Constance.
“So she’s going to be with her son and his friend before the team gets to town.”
“Confirmed,” Burton told him, and then slumped forward. “Sir, are you ready for tomorrow?”
Constance frowned, obviously surprised. “Certainly, soldier. Why wouldn’t I be?”
“Because you haven’t met these people, and there is no telling what comes next.”
Constance didn’t seem to believe him, but Burton was actually relieved when he got home and Ernie was making apple fritters. It meant they had Ernie’s witchiness on their side.