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  • Carla Buchanan

BGGM Entry 4: Saturday, December 12, 2026

Updated: Feb 24

This is a work of fiction. Any names, places, characters, and happenings are solely products of the author’s imagination or fictitious retellings. Any likeness to actual events, locations, persons living or dead, is coincidental.

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**Readers 18 and up only please**.





Needless to say, my words to Valentine the night before brought our conversation to a close. I refused his help in getting ready for bed, taking more than an hour to clean enough of my travels away to be able to get to sleep comfortably. Thankfully, the next morning my injuries prove to be the temporary kind because only a little stiffness remains that can be remedied by a few ibuprofens.

When I rise from the bed in the room to which I was assigned last night I pick up my phone to check the time. It’s after eleven in the morning and I have yet to check in with anyone. That’s made clear by the number of missed texts and calls that I slept through after taking a prescription-strength pain reliever Valentine left on the nightstand while I got ready for bed in the bathroom.

I don’t bother scanning the missed calls list, I go straight to the voicemails and turn the speaker on. I rise from the bed and cautiously test the muscles in my body. As I stretch, I listen to messages from two of my clients calling about my January schedule, my brother checking in to see if I’m in town, and Beau. Beau has left several messages asking if I’m okay, but the message that catches my attention is the one from my father saying that a crew would be clearing out my mother’s basement laboratory at Anson Estate. He tells me that if there is anything of hers I might want from there, then I need to go by the house today.

I doubt there is anything I want from her lab since I’m not the science major in the family. My brother is the one who followed in my mother’s footsteps, well at least he did until his girlfriend got pregnant and he decided a more practical life was necessary. I’m sure giving up his dream job as a researcher at the CDC was hard for him and I doubt I would’ve made the same choice if I was in his shoes. It’s why instead of following her career path, I decided to follow her physical path. I chose to literally walk in her footsteps and can understand why my mother wanted to build her life in California. Silicon Valley was the perfect surroundings for someone like her who wanted to make a name for herself in the world of science and technology. My father often says she would’ve done just that if the mind she relied on to help her create genius inventions hadn’t ended up betraying her.

I realize that my neck is definitely tender but I’m sure I’ll be back to normal in a few days. I also realize that I’m going to go to Anson Estate to see my mother’s lab one last time before it's dismantled and put into storage. I’m hoping the visit will give me the closure on my mother’s disappearance that attending her college or going to the same restaurants and stores she frequented hasn’t done for me in the years I’ve been living in California. I’m hoping that something there might help me not see her as the person who abandoned her family because we weren’t enough for her, and more like the woman my father remembers - one who loved her family and would’ve only left had there been no other choice or if she wasn’t in her right mind.

After a scroll through my messages, I return my brother’s, telling Joseph I’m in town and I’m fine. I also tell him that I know about the bridge to the cabin being closed due to ice. I text my clients and let them know that my virtual assistant will send out my availability soon but decide not to say anything to my father about going over to the house. I groan when I see that the only person I can ask to pick me up from Valentine’s is in Atlanta. I tell my best friend from high school that I will see her when she returns before I open up another text window. However, before I can send Beau a message my phone starts to ring. Beau’s name and face fill the clear brick with his pretty boy facade, and I briefly consider not answering. Deciding against that course of action, I connect the call. Before I can say anything, Beau demands to know where I am because the rental company was notified of a collision through the car’s internal sensors and he was listed as my emergency contact. He says he panicked when he was told the car had been towed but no one was inside.

“I’m fine, Beau. A little sore but nothing serious,” I assure him and then tell him about the fender bender, leaving out the part about Valentine coming to get me, and him being my husband.

“You didn’t go to an emergency room?” Beau asks as if this is the dumbest decision I’ve ever made. “Do they even have an emergency room in Anson Valley?” He asks. He doesn’t mean for it to sound like an insult but that’s exactly how it sounds.

“It does but an emergency room wasn’t necessary. Don’t worry about me. I’m fine.”

“Well, it’s too late for that,” Beau says. “I’m already on my way to you. I’m calling from the jet,” Beau says. “You don’t have to come to get me from the airport, I’ve hired a driver to bring me to you. I’ll see you later this evening. A few days together in your family’s cabin will be like a pre-marriage honeymoon.”

I decide not to tell him about the bridge being closed nor do I mention where I stayed last night. There’s no point in making a big deal out of things that won’t matter once he’s here. I instead tell Beau that I’m looking forward to seeing him later even though that’s not the complete truth.

After showering I feel like myself again, but I don’t hurry to return to my real life. With Beau’s impending arrival, my decision to go to my mother’s lab on Anson Estate, and the unexpected run-in with Valentine Trudeau I need a moment to gather myself. I groan in frustration over so many things being put on my shoulders, which must be a very audible, pained sound because the door to the room flies open. I’m startled by Valentine’s sudden entrance and then embarrassed when I remember that I’m only in the white bra and panties I put on a few minutes before.

“I… I thought something was wrong. I heard you make a sound… it sounded like you’d reinsured yourself. I thought you were in pain,” Valentine explains but doesn’t take his eyes off my body as I scuttle from the bed.

“Can you hand me the clothes on the chair over there,” I say and nod to the jeans and thin sweater I chose for the day. However, Valentine doesn’t move. He stands there looking like he wants to tear off the few scraps of fabric covering me. “V…? You can’t look at me like that. You know that, right?”

“How else would you have me look at you, Chris? You’re my wife, you’re sexy as I remember, and I still have feelings for you.”

“You can’t say things like that to me,” I say and take a step back when I think he’s going to move to close the distance between us. He doesn’t. He reaches over to the sofa chair in the corner and grabs my clothes. He walks the garments over to me, placing them on the bed a foot from where I stand, and then approaches me. When there is no room between us, he places two heavy hands on either side of my face and then leans down to place a kiss on the middle of my forehead.

“Until you tell me that it’s not what you want, I will continue to pursue you, Chris,” Valentine challenges, daring me to tell him that I don’t like, want, and love everything about him. “I won’t disrespect you. I won’t do anything you don’t want me to do,” I say. “But I also won’t give up until you tell me there is no chance for us.

I open my mouth and close it again, needing the words to form to tell him to give up, but they don’t. I instead say, “I’m engaged to someone else and that same someone holds the future of my father’s business in his hands.”

“None of that changes the fact you’re married to me. And your father doesn’t need any parent company telling him what to do. He can do that for himself. Valley Developments is a very successful and profitable business that will continue to thrive even if your boyfriend does something stupid like cutting the company from its roster,” Valentine says. “I’m here. You’re here. Fate has brought us together for a reason.” I still myself for his kiss knowing what’s coming next. When it doesn’t, I realize I’ve closed my eyes. I open them only to see Valentine’s wide, retreating back covered in a different flannel shirt today, this one red, black, and white plaid. He doesn’t look back but I’m sure he can feel me staring at him. He has me right where he wants me, and the messed-up part is that I think I like his confidence and I like the idea of him pursuing me. I want him to kiss me just as much as I don’t want him to and if his cocky demeanor was anything to go by then he knows that too.


~~~~~


“What?” I ask and look down at myself trying to figure out why Valentine is staring at me. “Did I get makeup on my sweater?” I ask and Valentine starts to shake his head. He turns away from me and when he turns back, he’s offering me a bag. The bag has the logo of my favorite breakfast cafe as a teen on the outside which makes me grin at the fact that he remembered.

“The AC is still in business?” I ask even though the proof is right in front of me. The Anson Cafe, one of two coffee shops in Anson Valley, was my favorite. Last time I was here the space was being foreclosed on. I’m happy it’s still open and show my appreciation for that fact by ripping into the bag. I moan in pleasure and close my eyes when the buttery croissant hits my tongue, followed by the homemade chocolate and vanilla filling. “Oh my God,” I say with a full mouth. “I shouldn’t be eating this at all. I haven’t been running in days.”

Valentine chuckles. “I remember your runs. You said you hated running but it helped you think when you had a lot on your mind. I never thought you’d continue to torture yourself with it as an adult.”

“I actually like it now. I don’t run when I don’t feel in the mood to, but most mornings I manage to get up and get out there to break a sweat,” I say. “Plus, I have a job that requires me to care about the way I look. It doesn’t require me to be thin, but it does require me to look healthy and graceful and show no signs of fatigue or stress,” I admit. “I have to give every client the same energy and the runs have helped to build my endurance and allow me to function on little sleep. My west coast lifestyle requires loads of water, lots of exercise, and limited amounts of refined sugar. But you know all about that after having lived in Hawaii.”

“Sounds… reasonable,” he says. “And yes, I was on a strict workout regimen while based in Hawaii, but not because I was out on the beach shirtless,” he says, and I can’t help but let the image appear in my mind. I manage to hide the smile that image brings with another bite of my chocolate and vanilla croissant. “But I see your healthy regimen is not stopping you from inhaling that pastry.”

There’s only a corner of the croissant left in my hand and I realize I must’ve been putting on my best impression of a cow as I spoke, mouth full and chewing noisily around my words. And while such a faux pas might not have gone over well around Beaumont Lacoste, Valentine Trudeau reaches forward to brush flaky crumbs from the corner of my mouth.

Switching from the topic of food I ask, “I don’t know what you have planned but I could use a ride to Anson Estate. I would ask Ken,” I say about my high school best friend, Kendall Kerr, “but she’s in Atlanta and -”

“As long as you don’t mind being seen with me, I don’t mind taking you wherever you want to go.”

I consider his words knowing he’s referencing the fact that we kept our ‘relationship’ a secret for years when I lived in Anson Valley. We called ourselves friends, and it started off that way, but by the time I left for college, I was deeply in love with Valentine Trudeau. I even once told him that I’d tell my father about us and we’d be together but then Brenna told everyone she was pregnant. The news surprised me because Valentine was insistent they never had sex unless they’d done so on the one and only night he ever did any underage drinking. However, he never denied her child and even chose to move with her to Hawaii so she could go to school and work at the resort owned by her mother’s family. I heard Hawaii was where he trained to be a stunt man and where he was living when he was offered his first big-budget movie job.

The thought of that convenient lie that got me to marry him makes the pastry feel heavy in my stomach and emotions I haven’t felt in a long-time bubble to the surface. The idea that Valentine had been another person I loved that chose another life over me just like I’m sure my mother did causes tears to threaten to fall. A deep, cleansing breath allows me to push away most of the emotions but when I meet Valentine’s dark brown gaze, I’m sure he knows what I’m thinking. He knows I’m thinking about how not once, but twice, he convinced me his feelings for me were stronger than those he had for Brenna, but he still chose her in the end. It was what happened when he decided to go to Hawaii with her so they could raise their daughter together, and again when we got married. Only hours after I lost my virginity to him, he was apologizing to me for having to return to her. I didn’t put up a fight. I let him walk away from me and told myself I’d never fall for his lies again. I told myself that I’d no longer allow people to leave me, I’d leave them.

Instead of bringing up the past, I decide that we should move forward into the future. The truth is that I don’t regret marrying Valentine. It was what I wanted at the time. If only to myself, I can admit I loved him when we got married and still loved him after he left me to return to Brenna. But that was then, and this is now. I’m an adult who wants a future with someone who can support my decisions whether it be about having children or not or being a working wife. I want someone who will treat me as their equal and not lie to me or try to control me. I don’t want to be absorbed into someone else’s life and be considered ‘the wife’, I want my own existence to be meaningful and memorable and worthy of the truth, not lies.

“I deserve that,” I admit. “I was a selfish bitch for making you keep our friendship a secret back then. “I might have to ease into the idea of people knowing about our friendship for the sake of everyone, but I don’t plan to keep our friendship a secret any longer. Oh, and thank you for the pastry. You didn’t have to go through the trouble. I’m not keeping you from work or anything am I?” I add, truly wondering if he’s dropped everything to be my chauffeur.

“I’m retired. Between the Amazon stock, the AC cafes all over the southeast, and residual income from my stunt man roles, I’m doing fairly well. My brother runs the cafes with his husband and my sister doesn’t want to have anything to do with any of it. She has her shares of the Amazon stock to pay for everything her son will ever need and would never want to be anything else other than the chief of police in Anson Valley,” Valentine says, and my eyes widen at the news about his brother as well as about the news that he’s the one who saved the cafe. He opened a chain of them all over the southeast? I didn’t know that. I also didn’t know that Destin was gay. Valentine’s younger brother, Destin, was considered to be more of a heartbreaker than Valentine and I can imagine he’s a heartbreaker regardless of who he chooses to pursue.

“Kendall never told me any of this during our conversations,” I say but don’t mention that I banned her from mentioning Valentine’s name at all. My friend knows how sad I was during that first year in California, but she doesn’t know that my need to be connected to Valentine resulted in a marriage the first time I saw him after his move to Hawaii.

“I’m pretty sure that’s because you forbid her to talk about me,” Valentine says and chuckles when my mouth drops open.

“I’m going to kill her.”

“It’s not her fault,” Valentine says. “I guessed and she confirmed,” he says, and I don’t know if I hate or like that he knows me so well. “You ready to get out of here?” Valentine asks and I nod absently. I try to wrap my head around the fact that it seems as though Valentine has waited for me. Just like I could’ve, he could’ve asked for a divorce. He didn’t. I didn’t. He says he loves me. I know I still love him… But until I can admit that to someone other than myself there’s no use in me entertaining what it means.

“Uh… thank you for this,” I say when we’re in Valentine’s truck and on our way across town to the house on the hill. “You probably want to ask questions about why I want to go there but… My father says he’s tearing down her lab and I just need to see it one last time before it’s all gone.”

Valentine nods. “It was the same for me when we cleared the trailer houses from my mother’s property in the country,” he says about the two trailer homes he and his family occupied when I met him. I’ve never known him to live anywhere else in Anson Valley, so his house in town was quite the surprise. Though, I can definitely imagine him being right at home in the cabin on the lot next to the one my father owns. “I never really liked the place, but it was bittersweet to see a place I lived in for so long changed so drastically. I don’t know if you know but all of the trailers have been cleared from the land. The land was sold and now there’s a bed and breakfast, several small shops, and a huge park there now.”

I didn’t know, but find myself nodding, knowing it had been a plan my father had been pushing for even while I still lived in Anson Valley. He argued that the businesses would bring more jobs and clean up an area the current owner refused to clean up. I guess he finally got his wish, which is probably part of the reason he’s being given the honor being bestowed upon him.

I continue to remain silent, taking in the town where I grew up. Much of it looks the same as every other time I’ve been here, but other parts have completely changed and kept up with the times. We even pass several chain restaurants, a few new hotels, and two new large factories that Valentine says have brought more than a thousand jobs to the area as well as the need for the hotels and restaurants that have created even more jobs.

I come to attention when we get to the wrought iron gates of Anson Estate. I sit forward slowly, mindful of my still aching neck, and take in the driveway canopied in Spanish moss trees that had been brought in and planted for the specific reason of acting as a canopy over the long driveway. The trees look eerie and unkempt in their winter state with most of their foliage withered and decaying on the old brick driveway under the melting ice.

At the top of the hill is the first construction truck, and it is followed by two more company trucks and several pieces of large machinery. Several non-company cars line the right side of the driveway that leads to the back of the property where there is a four-car garage.

We don’t go back to the garage. We follow the brick drive to the front of the house where the driveway forms a circle around a large stone fountain feature that I haven’t seen in operation since I was a teen. Most of my visits home have been during the winter, a time when the fountain is dormant.

“You want me to wait for you here?” Valentine asks. “Some of these men probably know me. You might not want anyone to know -”

“No. Please… come with me.”


~~~~~


I don’t even realize I’ve done so, but I’ve grabbed Valentine’s hand. He brings this to my attention when I start to walk toward the door, but he doesn’t follow.

“Are you sure about this, Chris?” Valentine asks. “You once told me that seeing your mother’s lab made you sad and angry and -”

“I’m sure. I have to do this. For myself. For closure. Or maybe just to remind me of how I’m supposed to feel about her,” I say. “I need to see her lab one last time so I can -”

“Ms. Anson,” a voice interrupts and I turn to see a man I’ve never met before. He’s dressed in business casual in black slacks and a black trendy sweater. He looks like one of my clients I’ve shopped for in California. His outfit is precisely what I would’ve chosen to fit over his lean, yet athletic physique. The man grants Valentine the briefest of glances before he meets my gaze. His hazel eyes are full of interest like he’s been told about me and had expected something different.

“I’m Christmas Anson. Should I know you?” I ask and Valentine snorts. I shake the offered hand but take a step back from the stranger, not knowing why he’s here.

“Oh… No. I’m Jace Cooke. I’m your father’s new partner at Valley Developments,” he says and I’m sure my expression is one of confusion. My father never told me he was taking on a partner at his Real Estate Development Firm, and Beau hadn’t mentioned that this was happening either. Though, admittedly, Beau doesn’t talk to me much about his business, not that we’ve talked much about mine save for the fact that I have more to do with my career before I settle down.

My father always said he’d never take on a partner, but I guess it became necessary with the rapid growth in the area and his need to pay attention to Anson Valley rather than Valley Developments. “I’m here going through his office files, determining which files need to be archived and which we need to be converted into digital files. He asked me to let you in if you came by. The motion sensor on the security system notified me of your arrival,” Jace rambles like he’s nervous. He has no reason to be. I should be nervous around him and his olive complexion, black waves that he has slicked back whose ends curls around his ears, which bring my attention to his intense and sparkling hazel eyes. He looks like one of those guys described in Mafia Romances -not that I read Mafia Romances. “Honestly, I wasn’t expecting to see you so soon, but it’s good to meet you, Christmas,” Jace continues and runs a bronze hand through his silky curls, his hair seemingly longer and more unkempt than my father would usually allow of his employees. But I guess Jace isn’t an employee. He’s an equal partner who can wear his hair however he wants.

“You too, Mr. Cooke,” I say.

“Please… call me Jace. Mr. Cooke is my father,” Jace says. His eyes are flirty and charm oozes from him like I’m not standing next to a man. Jace wouldn’t know if Valentine is my friend, boyfriend, fiancé, or husband but he’s dismissed Valentine like he could never be a threat to someone like him. Jace reminds me a lot of Beau.

“You’re my father’s… partner?” I ask, still not believing my father has taken on a partner.

Jace chuckles. “Your father said you’d be surprised that he allows anyone to help him make decisions. But he trusts me, and I hope you will as well. Joe and I have become good friends and I hope I can say the same about us one day.” Jace shakes his head. “I’m sure he’ll discuss all of this with you. I’ll let you get to why you came here. Will your friend be joining you?”

“Valentine Trudeau,” Valentine says, offering his hand, greeting Jace like the man hadn’t spent the past couple minutes acting like Valentine didn’t exist. “I’m a good friend of Chrissy’s.”

Valentine rarely calls me by the nickname given to me by my family and friends. He only does so when he’s angry and calls me Christmas when he’s hurt. So, he’s angry - maybe jealous - and something about that makes me smile.

“Your father didn’t tell me you’re engaged. Congrats,” Jace directs at me. “Are you the fiancé?” Jace asks Valentine, nodding down at my hand. I forgot about the ring and realize Jace might say something about it to my father. Though, there’s also the fact that I’m here with Valentine, which is another thing I will have to explain.

“No,” I insert and make a half-ass attempt to cover my ass. “And if you don’t mind, I’d appreciate you not mention the ring to my father. I’d like to tell him about it myself.”

“No problem,” Jace says, but for some reason, I don’t trust his reassurance. Jace doesn’t know me. He has no loyalty to me, only to my father. My intuition tells me that Jace will tell my father as soon as he leaves my presence, but I decide not to intercept him. I will discuss my engagement face-to-face just like I intended to do all along. “The house is all yours. Follow me. I’ll open the front door. It’s unlocked by an authorized user’s fingerprint. We’ll get yours into the system once you’re done here.”

We take a familiar walk to the door where Jace presses his finger to a small black panel. A moment later the door unlocks, and I step into a construction zone. A breath I’d been holding releases because I expected to be hit with an overwhelming and debilitating feeling of nostalgia, but the mess makes me feel nothing.

“We all are required to wear a hat,” Jace says, handing us hardhats that sit on a table just inside the door. “You can take it off once you’re down in the basement.”

We wind our way around tarp-covered furniture, walls that are half-demolished, and boxes of replacement fixtures and flooring. Flashes of memory come and go away as we pass room after room and travel down the long hallways. We pass through the kitchen and make our way into the mudroom where a set of double doors are located.

“I’ll leave you to it,” Jace says. “We’ve set up a makeshift office space in the garage, so when you’re ready to program your fingerprint, you can find me out there.”

“Thank you,” I say and then turn to Valentine as Jace walks away.

“You want to do this part alone,” he guesses, and I nod. “That’s fine. Go. I’ll wait here.”

“Will you come in and sit on the steps?” I ask not wanting to go inside alone. At the bottom of the steps, I turn back to Valentine who is already taking a seat. I set my bag on one of the dusty steps and remove my coat and hard hat. Valentine takes it, and lays the coat across his lap, and sets both hard hats on one of the steps. Moments later I’m inside my mother’s lab after years of not setting foot in the space my mother loved so much.

A wave of nostalgia overwhelms me when I step fully into my mother’s space. Just like I remember, the space is divided into sections, one looking like a carpenter’s studio, another looking like the modern version of a school science lab, and another like a computer lab. Along the far wall are two dusty lab coats hanging on hooks, and next to that is a cabinet that used to hold all sorts of miscellaneous items. In another space, section off the rest of the large basement by a dirty glass wall are filing cabinets filled with notes on all of my mother’s projects, and large plastic storage boxes stacked and have who knows what inside.

I’m drawn to a dusty table that my brother and I once concluded is the last thing Elise Anson touched before she left. The table, in the many years that have passed, has never been put to rights. Its contents include several ancient mobile phones haphazardly scattered across the table, and a device that looks like a basic calculator on steroids. There is a box like the many stacked all around the lab, except this one sits with the lid already off, and inside is a stack of notebooks.

I lift my hand slowly, feeling like there will be no going back once I disturb the items, which makes me hesitant to move forward. Nothing in the space has been touched since my mother’s departure and it sort of feels like an invasion of her privacy to do so. It feels like something will cement and my opinion of my mother will be forever engraved onto my soul. I will forever think of her as the woman who chose to leave, not the woman whose compromised mental state gave her no other choice.

When my brother and I were finally allowed to come down to my mother’s lab more than a decade had passed. Back then the space was like a museum, everything seen but not touched. We left everything as my mother left it, as my father left it in the years following her disappearance, which is why I’m surprised that my father has chosen this course of action. And I guess if he has decided it’s time to finally move on then I can too.

Before I can think twice my hands are on the box and I’m pulling out the contents. Several notebooks are inside which I’m sure contain my mother’s handwritten notes. A sneezing fit ensues when dust flies into the air. I fire off a string of curses, inhaling the dust which makes me cough. Once the air clears, and I’m finally calm, I feel wetness sliding down my cheeks. It could be my allergies, or it could be the fact that I’m laying eyes on my mother’s handwriting for the first time in years. A moment later I hear Valentine’s footsteps on the stairs and when he appears, I nod my head and say that I’m fine.

I slide the scattered phones and the strange calculator device out of the way to make room for the notebooks. There are at least a dozen or so notebooks but it’s not the notebooks that catch my immediate attention. What catches my attention is when the tabletop underneath the devices, flickers. At least I think that’s what happens because it’s hard to see through the layer of dust. I don’t think twice before grabbing the edge of my sweater with my fingers and using it to wipe away some of the dust. A grainy gray glow is revealed, and interrupting the glow are letters. Another wipe, and the word ‘charging…’ appears as a slow pulse in the center of the table. Other places on the table darken and begin to pulse as well, and I see all of the devices on the table are now charging. I’m shocked knowing my mother probably created this either here or in her lab in California. Three of the devices say they are already fully charged and ready for use, including the largest which is the one that looks like a very large calculator without the ability to perform mathematical functions.

The charging table is such a modern device, one that’s a normal household item now, but hadn’t been invented when my mother disappeared. Admittedly, the charging table looks a little outdated, but I have no doubt that my mother was far ahead of her time. I can imagine how frustrating it was for her to be this way, to be dismissed for having big ideas but no one to take her seriously. I can imagine it was even more frustrating to be a woman with such ideas, especially married to someone with a presence as commanding as my father’s. He surely outshone her with his successful real estate endeavors in Silicon Valley despite the fact that she was often called a genius.

I close my eyes and try to imagine her in this space. I try to superimpose the framed pictures of her I’ve grown up looking at but find it hard to reconcile such opposing images. The version of her I’ve come to know is the carefree woman at her wedding and on vacations with my father before my brother and I were born. When I open my eyes again a stream of tears is released, surely creating a mess of my makeup. Though I’m sure my makeup doesn’t matter when my face and hair are surely coated with dust, and I used half my sleeve to clean the table.

One thing I didn’t expect to feel was empathy for my mother. I expected anger or sadness or maybe indifference after so many years have passed. Before heading down here I was nervous, but I didn’t expect such strong emotions. Even though I can’t form an image in my mind of what she might’ve looked like in this space, it’s like I can sense her lingering impact.

With that surprising thought, I flip open the first notebook and then run my fingers over Elise Anson’s expressive, slanting handwriting. It’s neat and graceful, filling the page from the very top to the very bottom. As I flip through, I notice how well preserved the pages are and attribute that to the high-quality paper from a company my father still buys legal pads from for his own work notes.

On the first line of some of the pages is a number with more than five digits, no commas. Some of the numbers have decimal points, some don’t. All of the numbers accompany a page, or pages, of notes but I don’t understand any of it. Not that it’s in a language I can’t understand but rather it’s a bunch of words I understand but make no sense.

Almost exact, I read on one of the pages. Pink skies not blue. No version of me there. It’s the first one without a version of me. It’s safe. Portal leads to a safe place. Portal opens in approximate spot of departure.

The notes continue with her listing names of people she claims to have met and trust, facts about technology, current events, animals, plants, politicians, presidents, and random things like the names of articles of clothing under topics like ‘Commonly Worn’ or cursing in public under a topic called, ‘Against the Law’. If I didn’t know better, I’d think it was some amnesiac trying to remember the fact of their forgotten life. But I know that’s not the case because I’ve never heard the names of some of the plants and animals, and the sky outside definitely isn’t pink.

The notebook goes on and on, each new entry beginning with a number emphasized with a yellow highlighter and followed by notes that cover the page, sometimes a few pages. Each entry is more detailed than the one before, with more strange facts, more number references that aren’t highlighted, and more names and places. There’s notebook after notebook of similarly presented information but when I pick up the notebook that was at the bottom of the box it’s not like the rest. When I open it, there are remedial drawings of the phones and the larger device. The larger device is the ‘main component’ and its formal name is the Multiverse Generator. There are specifications listed under the device, but I skip over those as I turn the page. The out-of-date phones are called ‘auxiliary devices’ whose formal name is Home Phone. I do stop to read a little about the devices because of the strange name and find that the phone creates smaller ‘portals’ that can only transport two to three people. It doesn’t stay on as long as the main component and the phones cannot generate addresses for random worlds, whatever the hell that means. My brother would know what it means, and my thoughts go to how he might respond seeing all of this. This type of stuff isn’t necessarily his field of study, but this would excite him to no end. I decide to take as much of it as possible so I can show it to him later.

Skimming over the rest of the page, there are more specifications but what draws my attention are words that have been emphasized several times in ink and say, “Home phones are to come home. Keep one with you and charged at all times. Press end to return to home base.”

I blow out a breath and flip through more pages of the notebook. From how she engineered the table and what materials she used, to items she puts in a backpack and different items she puts in a duffle bag. It’s like instructions on how to make a bugout bag for people with varying tastes and background even though I’m sure that’s not what they are for. My fashion-oriented mind goes there, but the geeky girl in me who likes science knows there’s more to the information than that.

I shrug at myself, at the notebooks, at the devices not knowing what to think of it all. I feel like the items are drawing me to them, trying to tell me something. I feel like I need to pay attention to these things more than anything else in the basement.

Curious about what it does, I pull the larger device toward me. I press what I guess is the power button, and then remember the page of the notebook with the drawing of the device. Each area of the keyboard is labeled in the sketch, and underneath are the instructions. With the device and the first instruction complete, I move on to the next step.

It tells me to power on one of the mobile devices and to ensure I have an auxiliary cable on my person before going forward. I don’t see an auxiliary cable right off but when I move the box there’s an open case with cables that are labeled and wrapped neatly around a set of pegs with the wall plug sitting in the middle.

I suddenly feel silly, so I place the cable and base back onto the table. I still pick up the mobile device and examine it, considering where these instructions will lead me. I know there’s only one way to find out, and that is to continue following the directions, so I do exactly that.


~~~~~


I read the next instruction that tells me to check my supplies - whatever that means - and because I’m not really taking this seriously, I skip that step. I also decide against entering a numerical value and choose the option of choosing a button clearly labeled with the word ‘generate’. I shake my head at myself when I wait for a moment for something to happen and nothing does, and then look at the notebook again.

I’m to place one fully charged auxiliary device onto a dock built into the main component, and when I do that, I get a beep from both devices, the main component displaying the message, ‘HOME BASE SET’ on its long rectangular screen. A note at the bottom of the page warns that I can only randomly generate addresses the device has already been, otherwise the user must know the address of their intended destination.

The instructions then tell me to retrieve the Home Phone, which I do at the same time I let a nervous laugh bubble up. But the laughter soon turns to a scream when the MV Generator starts to hum with energy, the hairs on my arms stand on end, and a bright light fills the space. The light makes my eyes close but my eyes spring open at an ominous suction sound that’s followed by a loud plop that seems to be in surround sound.

I take a step back, not believing what I’m seeing. A wobbly edged window, wormhole… portal floats in front of me, seemingly projected from the front of the MV Generator. It’s pointed at the glass wall, projecting an image of the room, but not how it looks now. Through the portal, the glass wall is clear, the lab beyond is clean and dust-free. What sounds like Christmas music plays softly through the portal that shows a version of my mother’s lab that’s clean and functioning. Taking a step forward I reach out a hand, knowing this can’t be real. I take another step and stop when a voice calls out to me.

“Chris? I heard you… What. The. Fuck…” Valentine says mimicking my exact thoughts. My hand lowers and I am suddenly rethinking whatever this is, and I take another step back. My next step back makes me nearly fall back because I’ve nearly stumbled backward over Valentine. He doesn’t even notice me as his eyes are trained on the thing floating above the charging table. However, his reflexes kick in and his large hands put me back on my feet before I begin to fall.

There’s a long pause as we stare at the floating object or portal or whatever the hell it is. Despite the unknown, something draws me to it. I reach for the device. I quickly slide it away from the glass wall and turn it to see if the portal will follow. It does, moving over the room and revealing more of the clean, functioning basement, but leaving the dirty one behind in its wake.

I wrap my hands tightly around the Home Phone once the MV Generator is pointing to the wide entrance of this area of the basement. Through the portal, I see a wall that’s stark white on its lower half, glass on its upper half, and through the glass I see…

“Oh my God, V, I think that’s my mother,” I say even though I can only see her in profile. She sits on a stool, at a sleek stainless-steel counter that spans the back wall and sides of the room. Four computer screens sit in front of four stools, the fourth occupied by a woman I’m sure is Elise Anson.

I’m unsure if I’m having a nervous breakdown but I’d imagine nervous breakdowns don’t come on suddenly. My mother’s supposed breakdown took more than four years to happen. My father admits that even when he met her, she was always a little different from all of the other women he’d met at the time. He thought her quirks were charming and endearing but looking back he says her quirks were probably early signs of her dwindling mental state.

If I’m losing my mind, then I might as well go out with a bang. “Fuck it,” I say and take a large step forward. I feel Valentine’s long arms reach out to me, but I’ve already taken another step out of his reach. My next step will put my foot solidly into the clean and functioning version of the lab. Or I just might fall to my face, all this having been a hallucination.

At the same time, I step through to the other version of the room, Valentine’s large hand locks around my wrist. I expect to be pulled backward, but a gentle force sucks me forward. Then in the blink of an eye, a wave of nausea hits me and I’m on my knees on the basement floor dry heaving but thankfully the croissant doesn’t make a reappearance.

My eyes are closed but I don’t need to open them to know something is different. The air is different, cleaner, probably filtered, and the sound of computer fans and activity are present unlike the stillness of the space from before.

“Someone there?” a voice asks, and I hear footfalls scrape across the floor coming from the area where the computers were. My mother. I freeze, unable to remember my mother’s voice but still feeling a shiver at hearing it.

“Chris, can you stand?” Valentine says at the same time his hands begin to help me without waiting for an answer. His voice unfreezes me and I let him help me up from the floor. When I’m standing Valentine places his hands on my shoulders to steady me, but it’s not necessary. The nausea has passed, the only thing lingering is the pain in my neck from my fender bender the night before. I somehow sense the portal closing, realizing that it stayed open for about a minute, maybe two. The Home Phone portal won’t remain open that long, I think absently. “Talk to me, Chris,” Valentine says when I say nothing. “For fuck’s sake, Chris, say something.”

I can’t because my eyes land on a person that stands within the entrance to this space. She stares at us, taking in my dirty sweater, face, and hair before her light brown gaze travels over to Valentine. Her shoulder-length hair is sprinkled with strands of gray and swings around her shoulders in a way I always imagined it would when I looked at the pictures. Her warm eyes convey a closeness to her daughter I can only dream about and a love that’s familiar and comfortable. Her eyes also convey amusement, like my presence in her lab is on the wrong day, or that I’ve shown up at the wrong time. Confirming that, is her pulling out a small clear brick and then her gaze staring down in confusion.

Letting my gaze meet Valentine’s I finally speak saying, “This is real, right?”

“You think we’re hallucinating?” Valentine asks like there’s no way that could be possible. “Chris, I don’t think -”

“What are you two doing here?” Elise Anson asks as she moves closer, her tone still amused. “Is everything okay? I thought you two were going over to help do costumes and help construct background sets for the Christmas play?” my mother adds. How is any of this possible? “Wait... Is something wrong with the baby? Are you sick again?” My mother continues to speak and then looks down at my belly before she trails off. “I told you to go to the doctor and let him prescribe something for the nau….”

Elise Anson takes several hurried steps closer to me, but I stand there stupefied. The woman before me is definitely the woman from the pictures but there are more lines on her face and a softness to her that says she doesn’t stay healthy by working out. Under her lab coat is a simple hunter green sheath dress with a red and green diamond-studded brooch in the shape of mistletoe at the left side of her chest, close to her shoulder. I’ve seen the piece of jewelry in an antique jewelry box my father keeps in his bedroom closet. It’s the box he’s tried to give me time and time again but I haven’t been ready to take it yet.

“Chrissy? Val? You’re not pregnant,” Elise Anson says on a gasp, “and that’s definitely not the vintage engagement ring Val gave you,” my mother adds looking down at our hands. “Where’d you come from? What’s going on here?” I’m speechless which isn’t at all usual for me. My mouth opens to explain but I realize I can’t explain any of it. She’d know what’s going on better than I would which is proven true after a lengthy pause. “I got it to work didn’t I? In another reality, I got it to work,” Elise says excitedly. “Right? The multiverse generator… I figured out how to make it work so there’s still a chance I might do it in this reality,” Elise says, her tone almost manic. “I have so many things I want to ask you. Did your Elise send you with notes? A message?”

“I… You… You don’t look like you’ve had a mental breakdown,” I say. I feel Valentine tense next to me. He knows the dilemma I’ve had to endure my entire life. He knows I’ve thought Elise Anson walked out of her own accord to go live some other life. So, if I’m not in some insane asylum on drugs or in a coma having impossible dreams then I’m looking at a perfectly sane woman.

Does that mean my mother was sane? For some reason, I feel like it does. I feel like it negates my father’s assumption that my mother was in some fugue state when she left. I feel like seeing this version of my mother supports my theory that we - her family - were holding her back and she had to go follow her heart, follow her dreams.

Without thought, and without saying a word, I lift the old model mobile phone and press the ‘end’ button. Light emits from the stubby antenna and once again light flashes and that strange plopping sound sounds off. The oddly shaped oval appears but it’s above me on the ceiling. I look up and see cobwebs, cobwebs that aren’t on the ceiling of our current location. I then start to tilt my hand down and the fixed size of the portal moves as well. I hear Elise Anson, some version of Elise Anson, call out to me and start to plead with me not to leave yet but a second or two after the portal lands in front of me, the device asks me to press end again to confirm my destination. I do and the screen tells me that my location is locked. I grab Valentine’s wrist and pull him along with me and he doesn’t resist. He eagerly follows me and a moment later I’m on my knees fighting off nausea. It passes a lot more quickly this time, but Valentine is right there to help me up again.

“What the hell just happened?” Valentine asks, his tone full of awe and wonder as he stares at the space where the portal once floated.

I don’t know what comes over me but the only reaction I can muster is throwing my arms around Valentine’s middle. I bury my face in his chest and let tears fall until I feel them soaking through his shirt. Valentine doesn’t push me away, doesn’t make a sound, he simply gives me the comfort I need without trying to fix anything.

I pull back and Valentine looks down at me, about to speak but I wrap my fingers around the open sides of his red, black, and white flannel, lifting to my toes as I so. Valentine doesn’t resist, his lips meet mine and a forbidden fire ignites.

My mouth opens to him and his seeking tongue pushes past my lips and we both moan as soon as our tongues entwine. This kiss is eager, his taste is sweet, like the chocolate and vanilla croissant I ate not long ago. His slick tongue delves into the dark recesses of my mouth like he’s trying to swallow my moans of pleasure and save them so he can savor them later on.

Valentine’s tongue is a possessing, conquering, devouring weapon of mass pleasure that does things a kiss shouldn’t do to my body. My knees go weak and my skin prickles with the need to be caressed by Valentine’s large, hot hands, so I can be reminded of something I know is real.

As if he reads my thoughts, both of Valentine's hands move from their anchoring position on my waist and slide down my hips and around to cup my ass. He squeezes the toned flesh and I moan, and then he lifts me from the floor. My legs wrap around his waist and my arms around his neck and the kiss deepens, our mouths never parting the entire time. My back soon hits the wall of filing cabinets stirring up more of the basement’s dust.

When air is necessary and our lips part, our lusty gazes meet like we need to gauge the other person’s intentions and intensity. We both pant heavily and tilt our foreheads together, knowing this can’t go any further.

“You were there, right?” I ask softly as I’m lowered to the floor. The truth is that I’m not sure any of what happened in the past ten minutes was real. It’s why I kissed Valentine. I needed the connection to remind me of reality. I never expected the kiss to be so meaningful, so passionate, so telling. Those few moments wrapped in Valentine’s embrace have me feeling and wanting one man while wearing another man’s engagement ring.

“I was there,” Valentine says. “I’m sure of that fact. But if you ask if it was real, I don’t know if I’ll be as sure about the answer. We’ve either been exposed to some chemical down here that’s caused us to experience the same hallucination or we’ve just stepped through a… wormhole? Portal? Tear in the space-time continuum?”

Valentine steps away from me like our closeness is making everything that much harder to process, which I completely understand. I’m finding it hard to process everything as well.

“So, you saw my mother? You heard her ask about my… pregnancy?” I ask even though I already know the answer. “Was she saying that we’re together in her reality?” I ask. “Oh my God, my mother was there, and she was… normal. Doesn’t that suggest that she might’ve been normal in my reality? Doesn’t it prove she chose to leave me and my brother?”

I know my mother’s mental state when she left us isn’t as important as the fact that we somehow traveled to a different time or universe, but I can’t help the direction of my thoughts. I can’t help but think that my father thought her obsession with her inventions was affecting her mental health and asked her to give it up. I’m guessing her departure was the answer to that ultimatum. And if my theory is indeed the case, I have a lot of respect for her choice to follow her dreams and her heart even though I wish she would’ve made that choice before she decided to have me and my brother.

My eyes landing on the charging table instantly changes the direction of my thoughts. I look at the notebooks, the devices, the cables, the device, and try to remember the movies I’ve watched, the books I’ve read, or my brother’s ramblings about stuff like this. When I need it most, my mind can’t seem to conjure up anything as I am still recovering from what happened… and that kiss. The only thing I manage to come up with goes back to what I was thinking about earlier, that if Joseph knew about any of this - and believed it - he’d tell me it’s not rational to think our mother was the same woman in a reality that is not our own.

“My God…” Valentine rasps out, his eyes going wide. “Don’t you see, Chris?” Valentine asks, walking over to me and placing his large hands on either side of my face. “No signs of a struggle. No traces of footprints in the snow when she disappeared. No credit card use. Not one sign of your mother’s departure except for a few basics,” Valentine says knowing the details of my mother’s disappearance. Over the four years we knew one another, the story trickled out in parts, though I’m sure he’d already heard about my mother’s disappearance before then. It fleetingly makes me consider the fact that I’ve never told Beau anything about my mother or her disappearance. Although, I’m sure he’s heard some version of the story from his mother and father.

Suspicions and gossip about what happened to my mother have almost become an urban legend in Anson Valley. Some people even speculate that she invented time travel and she’s stuck somewhere and can’t return home.

Wait…? Could that be close to the truth?

I let what Valentine said process and realize we’re on the same page. “Supplies,” I say absently, thinking about the list of instructions on how to prepare to use the device and pushing away thoughts of my fiancé, or town gossip, and Elise Anson in another reality. I’m solely focused on my Elise Anson, one who could very well be stuck on some other world and can’t return home. “They were supplies,” I say about the things she took with her when she left. “She must’ve gone to a place so similar that she was able to use her own identification and money, and maybe even her credit cards. Maybe something happened and she’s stuck in some random parallel universe,” I say hopefully, my opinions about my mother suddenly in question. “Am I crazy for thinking it’s a possibility? Isn’t the simplest answer the most likely answer? Isn’t it more likely that she just up and left?”


~~~~~


I’m in a daze for a couple of hours or so and that’s evident when we arrive back at Valentine’s house and I barely remember leaving the basement at Anson Estate and certainly don’t remember waiting in the truck as Valentine helped three of the construction workers load as many items from the lab as they could into the back of his truck. Valentine made sure the charging table, the MV Generator, the Home Phones, all of the auxiliary cables, and my mother’s notebooks were in the first load.

I don’t remember getting into the front passenger’s seat, nor do I remember the drive back across town. I have a feeling that Valentine is in a similar state of shock as his mind goes over the events that have taken place because he doesn’t move to get out of the truck, he sits there staring at the stark white door of the garage whose icicles drip water, atop the truck's hood. The sound reminds me of the sound of the portal, and probably for the hundredth time in the past couple of hours, I replay what happened in the basement of my childhood home.

“Will we be able to move the table by ourselves?” I ask Valentine after a long stretch of silence.

“I don’t want a divorce,” he responds, very much off subject. “The whole ride over I’ve been thinking about what happened,” he says confirming my thoughts, but surprising me with his statement. “Not just what happened but what your mother said while we were there. If what we experienced wasn’t some joint delusion, then in some version of reality we’re together. We’re still married. We want to be married. We’ve started a family. We’re in love,” Valentine says still looking out the front windshield of his truck. “I know that couple, that version of us, is years ahead of us but it’s not too late to start.” He then turns to me and I’m already looking at him in disbelief. “It’s not too late to be the kind of people who help with the Christmas play. Come on… even you can admit that all this has to be some twisted version of fate redirecting our lives and setting it back on the course it was meant to be on. And then, as if fate has a sense of humor, it went as far as to show us what we’re missing.”

I’m shaking my head before he can finish talking. “We’re not those people, V,” I say knowing the same could be said for my version of Elise Anson and that world’s. I know I need to say the same to myself in the mirror. I need to remember that my mother could still have been a mental case as opposed to the seemingly normal Elise Anson from that other world. “I have a life in California,” I add but it’s a poor excuse since I was the one who kissed him down in the basement. Obviously, I’m not completely opposed to us as a couple since I’m not the kind of woman who just goes around kissing men I don’t like. “You have a daughter who depends on you,” I add even though I can tell that my words are doing nothing to change Valentine’s mind. “And this isn’t fate,” I say gesturing between us, “this was inevitable with you living here now. We were bound to run into each other. We were bound to feel something for each other. But it doesn’t mean we should be together.”

Valentine doesn’t take any offense to my statement; he simply powers on just like I knew he would. When there’s something he wants, he goes after it unless he’s stonewalled by someone as stubborn as me. I was able to keep him mostly in the friend zone our entire four years of high school even though I was head over heels in love with him. However, as a teen with my father’s permission to move across the country, I considered myself an adult with the ability to make adult decisions. I also considered myself to be in love, so I made the adult decision to marry Valentine Trudeau.

The day before Valentine and I got married, he made all sorts of promises to go back to California with me and pursue his stunt man dreams in Hollywood. He said Brenna knew he was miserable with her and got angry. She told him her daughter wasn’t his and that he should leave. That’s exactly what he did, flying directly to Las Vegas and asking me to join him.

We’d planned to stay in Las Vegas for my whole spring break and then head back as a married couple. We knew it would be hard at first, that he might have to stay with a friend until we could afford a place. However, only hours after I gave my new husband my virginity, a call from Brenna saying she needed him, that Breanna was definitely his, had Valentine running back to her. He said he couldn’t ignore his child, and the only response was to let him go since I’m not the kind of person who’d take a father away from his child. I watched my husband walk away from me that day and haven’t laid eyes on him until he found me in my car on that mountain road.

“I’m willing to sell my house and move to wherever you are, wherever you want to start our life together,” Valentine continues. “I can admit that I was wrong. I was wrong to choose duty over love. I’ve been a much better father since Brenna and I decided to live separately. I’m never more than a plane ride away from Breanna and we’ve proven that the dynamic works for us,” Valentine says.

“You sound as if you’ve thought about this before,” I say.

“I’ve thought of it a million times. Every time I pass by the bridge leading to the lookout where I first encountered a drunken Christmas Anson, every time I pass your father’s cabin to get to mine, every time I see your brother or run into Kendall… I think about the kind of life that other version of us is having. I think about you. I think about being with you, loving you, being a husband to you.”

When he brings up ‘the event’ as I have started calling it in my mind since I can’t yet say we traveled to a different universe, I tense. I’ve tried not to allow my mind to wander to the details of that experience, focusing on the event itself. But now that he brings it up, my mind flashes back to an older version of Elise Anson, older than the one in the pictures I’ve seen, and her words… and how they made me feel. Nothing about the words felt wrong regardless if we were in the wrong reality. I could vividly picture the life she spoke of and could see how happy my mother was to be a part of that life. But as much as I felt the desire for that life in my heart, my head knows better. My head knows I can never have that life, never have that mother, never be a part of such an idyllic existence.

Although, despite my logical mind making me see reason, those butterflies have taken flight and the ghost of my teenage self is swooning as his brown eyes plead and coerce my heart into believing every word Valentine says and wanting every last one of them to be true.

“Beau is going to be here this afternoon, V,” I say, my words going against my feelings and desires. “And he’s my fiancé. If that weren’t the case, then… maybe I’d consider giving you the benefit of the doubt. If that were the case, then I might have gone along with trying to see if the connection between us still exists. But that’s not the case and -”

“You don’t love him,” Valentine interrupts.

“Whether I love him or not is none of your business.”

“You made it my business when you kissed me back and when you kissed me seeking comfort from me in that basement.”

I don’t respond to that because I can’t argue with the truth. Had I resisted, had I asked him not to kiss me, had I not kissed him, he would’ve respected that choice. But I hadn’t refused him, or denied him, or backed away until the kiss had already happened. I initiated the kiss in the basement. I’m the one muddying up what could’ve been a clear break, and the return of us being friends and nothing more.

“What do you expect me to do, Valentine?” I ask, not using the nickname only I’m allowed to use. “We’ve never been in a real relationship, yet you want me to break off a relationship I’ve been in for six months to be with you… I’m sure you can see how that doesn’t make any sense. I can’t redirect my whole life because of coincidence or fate or whatever reason you think we both ended up back in Anson Valley at the same time.”

I shiver because it’s starting to get cold in the truck with the heat and engine off. Valentine notices, curses, probably because he’s remembering that I’m not used to winter being this cold anymore. I’ve been away from Anson Valley for five years straight and have been spoiled by California’s steady and reliable weather.

“You’re cold so we should go in, but I want to leave these questions with you… Is your fiancé a person you’d choose to take with you on the journey that device took us on, and will surely take you on again since I know that’s your plan? Will your fiancé understand why you felt the need to take the table and its contents in the first place? Does he know how you feel about your mother or why you’d want to put your life on the line to do something so spontaneous, unpredictable, and dangerous to disprove a theory you’ve had about your mother for twenty years?”

Valentine doesn’t wait for me to say anything. He barely waits for my face to form an expression before he’s out of the truck. I watch him as he crosses in front of the truck’s grill and makes his way down the stone path and to the front door. I hate that I notice how good he looks wearing leather and flannel, his countenance and swagger like that of a man wearing an expertly tailored designer suit. My stomach does that floppy thing that women in Rom-Com’s talk about when they see the man they love and groan that those feelings aren’t for the man who gave me the ring on my finger. However, each time Valentine looks at me or says just the right words, my skin prickles, the butterflies in my belly take flight, and my mouth goes just the slightest bit dry.

It’s not something I can control.

I follow him inside not needing to think about Valentine’s questions before knowing the answers. No, I would never share this with Beau because, as much as I hate to say it, there’s no way I could trust him to keep the discovery between us. He and his family weigh the cost to benefit ratio of just about everything they do. I’m sure that even if I said no to giving him my mother’s prototype device, he’d figure out a way to take it, or coerce me into giving it to him so it can be reverse-engineered and sold to the highest bidder.

Before today, I had ignored those kinds of observations about Beau. I managed to ignore the things that made Beaumont Lacoste an asshole, giving him a pass. I told myself that he can’t help the way he was brought up, that he is doing and saying what is expected of him just like I did what was expected of me while growing up. The flaw in that thinking is that neither of us are still those teens who were forced to be raised however our parents chose. We are adults who have to weigh how we were raised against what we feel is right for us now. As adults, we should form our own way of living, form our own beliefs, and not simply take what our parents say at face value.

“Something’s happened,” Valentine says before I can say anything about what we’ve discussed. “My sister called from the station and said you might want to come down there. Your brother is having… a domestic situation.”

“A domestic situation?” I ask, my tone as incredulous as it can get. “What the hell are you talking about? And why would she call you and not me?”

“I’m pretty sure she doesn’t have your number, and if you forgot, I was the one who rescued you from the side of that mountain,” he says like his retrieval of me was a death-defying event. “I was at the station talking to my sister when the alarm went off letting us know someone had an impact with the wall.” Valentine shakes his head. “But that doesn’t matter. We should get to the station.”

“He’s been arrested?” I ask knowing there has to be some mistake. My brother is the rule follower of us two. He is a stickler and is sure there is comfort in the order of things.

Valentine shakes his head. “His wife is being arrested for assaulting your best friend and keying her car.”

Multiverse Generator… take me away.


~~~~~


Next post coming soon.