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  • Carla Buchanan

BGGM Entry 8: Tuesday, December 15, 2026, continued...

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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#2 stomps off, which pulls me along with him since he is holding my hand. I look back over my shoulder to see Noble staring at me like one of my clients I once had to inform that the ‘vintage’ handbag she bought was fake. She had been angry for being tricked but still couldn’t say she regretted buying the bag. Noble looks like he’s disappointed that I’m not the real thing but isn’t as upset about it as he wants to be. Like #2 said it’s easy to pretend I’m his Christmas even though he knows I’m not. I’ve done the same with him regarding my Valentine and I’m sure Noble Anson is going to allow himself to do the same, at least for a little while.

“We’ll meet you at the mayor’s mansion,” #2 barks at Noble when we get to a spot where no one is near enough to be able to hear what’s being said. “Don’t call her. If she did then I’m sure she can’t talk about it with us anymore with us or…” #2 trails off and looks around. “I’m not going to say anymore here. Just meet us at the mansion.”

We’re off again. We leave Noble standing there and I can’t help but look over my shoulder at him. He hasn’t moved another inch. He stands there staring at me, still in shock over seeing me.

“I know she’s not working for the government,” #2 says, taking my attention away from Noble. “She wouldn’t do that. She and Chris agreed to never do that,” #2 insists but he isn’t talking to me. He’s having a conversation with himself. He seems to be in disagreement with himself because his expression is torn and his grip on my hand gets tighter with each word that leaves his mouth. #2 continues to mumble the whole way to his truck, and once we’re inside he just sits there. He doesn’t start the truck; he stares out the front windshield and I can tell he’s still deep within his inner debate about whatever is going on with his Elise.

“What’s going on? What job offer?”

“She hasn’t done what he thinks she’s done. He only said that because he thought you were his Chris. You’re not. So…” #2 trails off and then takes out his phone. He scrolls and presses the screen and then his leg starts to shake. “Come on Elise, pick up, pick up,” he pleads even though he told Noble not to call her. When she doesn’t answer he curses and then starts the truck.

“Stop treating me like I’m not here, Valentine,” I say. “You brought me here to help and now you won’t tell me what’s going on. I can’t help if I don’t know what the hell is going on.”

“Elise told both me and Noble that there are those in government who’d be interested in the device who have the means to help her build a better, more efficient device so she can search for Chris. She said she knew some people and if one of them promised her she had carte blanche to search for Chris once a new device was built she might just take them up on their offer. She hasn’t mentioned it since then. But here’s the thing. There’s only one family she knows who might have the kind of connections to get her what she needs.”

“The Lacoste’s,” I say and #2 nods.

“She never mentions them but I’m not liking how she moved back to the West Coast and sort of cut us all off. Now I think that wasn’t just because she needed to be away from Noble.”

“You think she might’ve approached Laurent?”

“I’m not sure. On the few occasions, they went to visit the Lacoste’s Chris said her parents would argue about Laurent flirting with Elise, and heard her father say Laurent admitted to being in love with Elise.”

“You think Elise would’ve used that fact to her advantage, possibly seduce him into helping her get the funds and materials to build a bigger, better device?”

At a stoplight, Valentine is silent for a long time. When it turns green he finally says, “To find Chris… yes.”

#2 doesn’t speak again until we get to the mayor’s house saying, “I know this is all more than you signed up for, Chris,” #2 says when he parks in front of the house. “I will understand completely if you just want to go back to your own world - “

“No,” I say cutting him off. “I want to help. But I am going to have to go back for a few days and settle some things if this whole thing is going to have me here for an extended period. I can’t just leave my Valentine wondering where I am and what’s going on. He’s been with me on this from the beginning and I won’t leave him out.”

“We’ll get you on your way back there after we talk to Noble. If Elise is working for the government there’s not much we can do until she reaches out to one of us.”

“You really think the Lacoste’s have something to do with your Elise going missing?” I ask as Noble joins us.

“I think they do,” Noble answers.

“But Elise would’ve gone missing before she moved back to California, that would’ve been before she ever would’ve approached them for help building another device.”

“When I saw you,” Noble says looking at me, “a possibility came to mind. What if he found out because another Laurent told him about her because another Laurent already knew about Elise’s device? What if they tried and failed to get Elise to work with them but found a way to force her to?”

“By taking your Christmas. If they knew about the device then they could’ve very well used it to lure her to them and kidnap her.”

“Elise would give her life for her children,” Noble says. “Building the device to get her back would’ve been no choice at all. She’d do it in a heartbeat.”

I immediately think of my Laurent Lacoste and my Beau, but immediately dismiss that thought. That would be too much of a coincidence, wouldn’t it? My Laurent Lacoste didn’t kidnap my mother years ago after finding out what she’d built, had he? If he was in love with her like the Laurent of this world could he have taken her, as well as the device, and kept them both as his own for all of these years?


~~~~~


“How can we ever know that for sure?” #2 asks Noble, accusingly. “It’s not like we can go up to the gates of the White House and say we want to talk to President Lacoste, Juliette, or Beau. The Lacoste’s are off-limits in the biggest of ways,” #2 adds and I agree. Though, there’s a chance they’d possibly see me. But if they have Christmas that would mean exposing the fact we have a device and decimate any advantage we currently have, if we have one at all.

Noble then looks at me again and he shakes his head. “I… I have their notes. I had the guys I hired get them out before they burnt down the house with the device inside,” Noble confesses. His shoulders slump and I can tell it took a lot for him to say that out loud. Though, I’m the only one among our trio who feels pity for the man because #2 growls out a string of curses and says that he knew it all along right before his anger reaches a point where he lashes out and punches Noble.

This all happens in a matter of seconds.

Noble staggers back and grabs the spot where he was hit with his hand, but he doesn’t attempt to retaliate with a punch of his own. He nods like he deserved that and more. He then finally says, “Go ahead… take your anger out on me. But that won’t change what’s already happened. I had the place burned to the ground because it took too much from me. When I drove past it, the place pissed me off. I knew none of us could rebuild the MV Generator, so I took the notebooks just in case. We all knew how to use the device and I didn’t want to take the chance in anyone doing something reckless.”

That last statement is directed at #2 who looks like he might just hit Noble again. I decide if he does, he might not want to do it while we’re all standing outside. Too many amateur drone pilots are professional creepers or are just nosey. They could post a video of the mayor and his son-in-law in a fight, and if the wrong people happen to see it, they might start wanting to know why.

Strangely, my old habits of being cautious of what I say and do out in public come back to me so seamlessly when I’m in this town. I’ve so easily stepped into the role of mayor’s daughter in this situation that it scares me a little. It also scares me that the role feels comfortable and familiar. It’s a role I honestly don’t mind taking on, especially with Valentine at my side.

Not #2… Valentine. I could imagine myself and my Valentine facing all of this together and me living in Anson Valley again as we do it. I could see myself living in the cabin, getting some clients in Atlanta, and even keeping some of my California clients. A face call, a plane ride to spend a day or two taking appointments is all it would take to keep my styling business up and running. Or I could simply set my styling business aside and get a lot more serious about costuming for movies.

Though, that might have to wait until all of this MV Generator stuff is behind me - if it’s ever behind me. I’m getting the feeling that this whole thing goes a lot farther and deeper than any one of us can imagine. I get the chills when I consider that Laurent Lacoste, with the power of the United States government behind him, might be involved in any of this. Like I said before about Beau’s mind being all about making a profit, his father is even worse. His father is so driven, so focused, and so successful because he never stops going. In the couple years preceding his senate run, Lacoste Incorporated has been innovating the housing development business so quickly that he probably has teams of researchers coming up with ideas and conducting tests twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. From energy walls that utilize the sun’s rays to power an entire house, to better and more efficient smart homes, to state-of-the-art luxury bunkers, Laurent Lacoste has a lock on the world of real estate development on my world. He is far ahead of the rest which gives me another chill. My subconscious is warning me, telling me that there really aren’t any coincidences that could be quite so… coincidental. My world, the Lacoste’s on my world, has to be connected to this situation in some way - at least that’s what my gut is telling me.

Conspiratorial thoughts swirl around my logical mind, as well as the part of my mind that wants to conjure up impossible scenarios of kidnappings and forced labor.

As ridiculous as the thoughts are, they can’t be discounted.

“What if I can find out more?” I ask, finally voicing my earlier thought - that I could approach the Lacoste’s and see what happens. “My presence here, if made public, is bound to bring about some sort of reaction - positive or negative - and then we can decide what to do from there.”

“We won’t be able to decide what to do if they take you too, Chris,” #2 says. “Plus, there’s a chance he already knows. He is the president, you know. If anyone can keep tabs on someone it’s him.”

“But if he has our Christmas, there’s no need for him to keep tabs since he knows for sure she’s never coming back,” Noble theorizes.

“Okay, so what about my Beau? Noble seems to think that Lacoste’s from multiple worlds might be working together. On my world, I’m the only one who can get close to the Lacoste’s, V,” I say, and he knows I’m right.

“You’re close to the Lacoste’s on your world?” Noble asks like that’s the worst news he’s heard in a long time.

“You know what...Let’s go inside. I’ll explain there. We’re too exposed out here,” I say and then look over at three landscapers who are laughing as they emerge from the side of the house not expecting to see us.

When we pretend like they aren’t there, the landscapers do the same to us. We follow Noble into the house and I’m taken aback at how dark and unwelcoming the place is. As always, the cleaners have kept the place immaculate but nothing about the place feels personal. The walls don’t have pictures, the decor doesn’t look as though it’s been updated in years. It looks as though no one lives here at all.

When we go down into the basement I realize Noble has been living down here in the basement, among Elise and Christmas’ things, probably trying to figure out where his daughter might be. My heart breaks for him and I want to give him a big hug and kiss on the cheek like I often do to my father when our relationship is in a truce. Seeing this world’s Noble this way makes me think about how my father, my Noble, endured after my mother’s disappearance. I wonder if he was this bad off and if he was how he ever got through his loss to be the man he is now.


~~~~~


“You could’ve told me you had their notes,” #2 accuses once we’re inside after having time to process that admission a little more. I realize his reaction is a one-eighty to mine. There is no forgiveness or pity, only anger, and blame. “You could’ve told someone you had her notes and maybe we wouldn’t be in this predicament. Maybe someone who understands their notes could’ve helped. Elise comes home once a year, for one day, to reaffirm your marriage. You could’ve told her on any of those occasions and you didn’t.”

“V… he needs to get caught up before you start another fight,” I say. “And we really do need to get to the point so I can get back.” I don’t add that I plan to somehow find out if my mother ever told Juliette or any of the Lacoste’s about the MV Generator.

I know it's farfetched but something deep down feels like I need to pursue this. Something tells me all of these things are happening for a reason. Something tells me that fate put this in my lap when I was ready to wash my hands of my mother for good because it’s not time for that yet.

Because that’s what I intended to do. I intended to see her things one last time before my father packed them away forever. But the need for closure over my mother’s disappearance had sent me to that basement. Now I’m here with new information about her, new insight about her, and an inkling that there’s much more to this than any of us knows.

“Have a seat,” Noble says pointing to two chairs, one with empty Styrofoam containers and the other with a ratty black robe thrown over the back.

I move the robe and sit, noticing that an open box of my mother’s notebooks is at my feet. I pick up the notebook on top, bracing to see my mother’s handwriting but let out a small gasp when it’s my own. I run my fingers over the large slanting letters and turn a few pages. There are notes about various worlds just like the notebooks I and my Valentine found. It’s so strange seeing my handwriting knowing I wasn’t the one who wrote these notes.

“This is one of the more recent ones,” Noble says handing me a notebook dated around a time when this world’s Elise disappeared.

I open the notebook, and in my handwriting, it lists the numerical addresses to several worlds with a large question mark out to the side of them. The word ‘possibilities’ is next to that. Then the words that take me aback… Juliette still here. Mom not. A trick maybe?

“She told Juliette?” I ask which, to me, changes everything. Our speculations are no longer just speculations but now have some backing. I shiver, wondering if Juliette might’ve betrayed her own best friend.

Could my Juliette be that backstabbing and sinister? Could I have been sleeping with the son of the devil?

I shiver again and feel a little sick. I feel dirty and used. I feel like I should’ve known what kind of people the Lacoste’s are, or could be, but I let them charm me into seeing them as something else.

Had my mother been charmed by the woman who claimed to be her best friend?

Had this world’s Elise been charmed as well?

There are so many possibilities here. Juliette could very well be innocent in all of this, and so could Beau. They all could be innocent and our theories could be all wrong. However, with that last thought comes an uneasiness that tells me that’s not the case. Something tells me that none of the Lacoste’s are innocent. They aren’t innocent on this world, my world, or any others.

Noble nods in answer to my question and sits. “Not that long ago. A few months before she disappeared. She was sure Juliette would keep her invention a secret. She said she doubted Juliette really even believed her. Though, not long after telling her, Juliette called Elise and said she was thinking about leaving Laurent. Elise asked me for advice on the matter and I didn’t know what to tell her. I’ve never completely trusted Laurent, even when I called him my best friend. There were times when Elise mentioned feeling the same about Juliette, only for her to change her mind later on and defend something she said or did. All I could do was remind her that Juliette, her best friend, had married the man Elise’s parents groomed her to marry. I told her that says a lot about Juliette’s character, regardless of whether or not Elise wanted Laurent that way. But of course, Elise isn’t the kind of person who holds grudges. She removes herself from a situation rather than hold a grudge.” Noble shakes his head, shaking away the emotion talking about the subject brings. He sits back on the couch laden with wrinkled sheets and blankets before adding, “Juliette didn’t think Laurent would let her leave him is how the story goes,” Noble recalls. “Juliette said Laurent wouldn’t allow that kind of embarrassment to stand. Juliette said Laurent would see her dead first. So, Elise made her an offer I doubt many people in Juliette’s ‘situation’ would refuse,” he says throwing up finger quotations around the word since he thinks Juliette’s ‘situation’ was fabricated. “Elise would help Juliette disappear for good if she needed to disappear, no questions asked. She was going to take her to another world and help set her up with a new life and then come back after some time. When Elise returned, I assumed that Juliette changed her mind and came back, or maybe they never went at all. I regret not telling Chrissy about all of this because maybe she wouldn’t have gone looking for Elise if I had, or maybe she might’ve known which world Elise might take Juliette to. But Chrissy didn’t know Elise had told Juliette anything. She promised she’d tell Chrissy herself. I assumed that’s what the note you read means. Maybe Elise told her some things, but not everything. I don’t know anything for sure,” Noble admits dejectedly.

“So that whole story in the news about Juliette taking a break from her literacy campaign to deal with ‘personal issues’ years back was a cover-up of her disappearance?”

Noble shrugs. “So, the story goes. But who knows what the truth and what is a lie when it comes to what politicians tell us? But I doubt it’s a coincidence that Elise’s disappearance and Juliette’s break happened around the same time. I asked Elise did she know where Chrissy was, and she didn’t speak to me for a month after. I never asked her again.”

“You think she knows where Chris is, don’t you?” #2 asks, sitting forward, the question changing his brooding demeanor to hopeful and inquisitive.

“Yes. And as much as I want there to be, I doubt there are any more clues among those notes. Elise is smart. She’d tell Chrissy not to write things down. I’m surprised I found that much,” Noble says. “The only clue about Chrissy I got from Elise is that she said she came back because she found out Chrissy was missing. She never told me how she found out.”

“But what if the reason she came back wasn’t just because your Christmas was missing, but because Elise knew who took her and why,” I say, following Noble’s train of thought.

“Exactly. I know I sound crazy, like a conspiracy theorist, but you have to know the Lacoste’s to know what I’m talking about,” he says but I understand completely. They are too good in public and too ‘them’ in private. The things his mother says to me aren’t terrible, at least not completely, but her motivations are. “They are powerful and will do whatever it takes to get what they want,” Noble continues. “Juliette is the same as much as Elise refused to believe and accept that about her friend.”

“Okay. So, Chris was taken to lure Elise back from wherever she escaped to,” #2 says. “We’re assuming that Juliette betrayed Elise and tried to take the device, but Elise escaped to some other world. She planned to stay gone but found out Chris had gone looking for her which is really code for Chris being kidnapped by Laurent Lacoste,” #2 deduces and my mouth opens in surprise. No one said any of that but as I follow his logic, it seems like a good conclusion. Noble doesn’t believe Juliette was ever in trouble, that she would never consider leaving Laurent Lacoste. The truth is that I can’t see that ever happening either. Juliette loves her life on my world, and she isn’t even First Lady of the United States there. “She came back and used the excuse of the fire as her reason for moving, but you think it was really because she turned herself, and her skills, over to Laurent Lacoste in exchange for Chris… That’s what you’re saying?” #2 asks and Noble nods.

#2 is right. Noble is right. I’m right.

We’ve entered the fucking Twilight Zone.

But the big question is the one #2 asks next. “If Elise gave herself over the Lacoste’s then why isn’t Chris back yet?”


~~~~~


I have to find out if my Laurent has something to do with my mother’s disappearance is what flashes through my mind when I think about the fact that my mother isn’t back yet. I wonder if she had a similar plan with Juliette and my Juliette betrayed her. I wonder if my mother ran but never returned because she didn’t have to worry about the Lacoste’s taking me since I’m of no use to them. I’m not a physicist.

“No Chris, you don’t,” #2 says, making me realize that I voiced my thoughts aloud. “You’re not about to go on some half-cocked mission to confront the Lacoste’s. If they are as sinister as we think, you’ll disappear next if you confront them.”

“How can I not? What I find out from Beau could help you,” I say but #2 isn’t budging because his head continues to shake.

“They aren’t stupid, Chris. Just because you’re engaged to Beau, or were engaged to him, doesn’t mean anything. You don’t mean anything to them, especially after Lana Lou’s.”

“How did you know about Lana Lou’s?” I ask.

“Your Valentine’s phone. You told him that’s where you’d be.” He then frames his face with his hands. “Same face means my face unlocks his phone.”

I nod. “Oh.”

“You’re trying to change the subject, Chris,” #2 says. If I have to, I will follow you back and make sure your lame ass Valentine knows what you plan to do. I’m sure he’ll agree that you shouldn’t get so directly involved in this.”

“It’s too late for that now.”

“You’re engaged to Laurent’s son? “Noble asks as if we didn’t cover that already.

“How will find out what you want to know?” #2 asks, ignoring Noble’s question. “Are you going to just walk up to him and ask?”

“I’m going to ask, yes,” I admit. “But I’m not going to ask Beau. I’m going to ask someone who might actually tell me the truth if I approach her the right way.”

“Juliette? You’re engaged to Beau and you know Juliette?” Noble asks still stuck on that. “You can’t trust a thing that woman or her son says. They are all manipulators. The whole lot of them. I’m surprised your father stands for that.”

“Lacoste Incorporated is the parent company to Valley Developments so I’m sure my father won’t mind if I marry the man who became his boss when Laurent ran for Senate,” I say even though I don’t think the part about my father not minding is really true. The truth is my father didn’t seem too enthusiastic about mine and Beau’s engagement. By the end of our meeting, he was pushing me toward Jace. He doesn’t want me to marry Beau any more than I want to go through with the marriage.

Now that I reflect on the moment in my father’s study, I’m sure my father doesn’t want me to marry Beaumont Lacoste. I’m sure if he hates the Lacoste’s as much as this world’s Noble thinks he does, he will try to discourage me from going through with the marriage. However, because he doesn’t know if I have true feelings for Beau, he won’t take his usual direct approach. He’ll go about it the nicest of ways, one of which might be giving me a cabin that could sway my decision a little.

Honestly, I don’t know what to think about my Noble Anson. He seems to know me better than I think. He’s stronger and more caring than I thought. But he’s still keeping secrets and I’m pretty sure he’s been lying to me about my mother’s disappearance all of my life. That means I can’t trust what he tells me any more than I can trust Beau or Juliette.

“Believe me,” Noble says, giving me a look that only a father can. “He doesn’t want you to marry Laurent Lacoste’s son and he doesn’t want you to have anything to do with Laurent or Juliette either. Laurent was obsessed with Elise and Beau was the same with Chrissy,” Noble says. #2 suddenly looks pissed which means he didn’t know any of this.

“So, you think what happened to Elise and Christmas on your world is the same thing that happened on mine years ago?” I ask.

“Yes. But because of some of the choices the different versions of us made along the way, things have gone off-course. But the worlds always return to the path in whatever twisted way fate deems. That’s one thing Elise used to always say. The worlds might have different currencies, musicians, presidents, or whatever but in every reality, the same souls seem to be attracted to one another. The same people meet. The same situations tend to develop, just in different ways.”

“But their interactions aren’t the same. Even if Elise’s and Chrissy’s disappearances have to do with the Lacoste’s on this world doesn’t mean they do on every other world,” I say even though my mind has been going down that very path since the Lacoste’s became a possibility. I have considered the relationship, the similarities among the worlds, since that first encounter with Elise from that first world we traveled to. I wondered if my fate was that of the other Christmas, married to Valentine and pregnant with his child. Even on a modern-day slave world I could imagine I’d find Valentine somewhere and we’d try to be together, I’d somehow know the Lacoste’s, and my mother would be exploring how to make the ideas in her head come to life.

Taking me away from my wayward thoughts, Noble asks the one thing that can’t be disputed. What he says is why I can’t listen to #2, or anyone else when they tell me not to confront the Lacoste’s or try to explore what this theory means to me and my world.

“What if they do on your world?” Noble asks. “What if the MV generator attracts our worlds, or populations, our experiences?”

Noble says sounding like a crazy conspiracy theorist. However, where his words would sound like complete and utter crazy talk to someone else, he makes perfect sense to me. To #2 as well if his thoughtful expression is anything go by.

“Fuuuuck, why the hell did you have to say any of that,” #2 groans out and sighs heavily in resignation. “None of what you said helps things at all. She wants to help even more now.”





* * *


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BGGM is on hiatus until September due to author health issues. Please check back then or follow the author on Instagram for current updates on A Black Girl's Guide to the Multiverse blog novel.