Blessings and Gratitude

G’day eh!

I wanted to take a few minutes to take note of a couple things.  Namely, things I am grateful for and my favourite parts of NaNo thus far.  

First of all, my gratitude.

First to The Boyfriend who, with no small amount of bemusement AND amusement, sticks with me through allll the crap that goes with being an author who writes by inspiration and instinct.  He is part of the reason my nano book exists.  It was something he said in July that made me go “Oh! oh! oh!  What if Santa was…” And we went from there.  He is a big part of the reason that I have the courage to do what I’m doing with HW1.  I have only just begun to take the first step  in that regard.  So far it’s been baby steps.

Second, to Val who bullies, cajoles, pushes and encourages.   

Third to Eshe, my artiste de couverture.  Without her I would not have such a beautiful cover, or any of the swag art.  

To my chosen Family, who read damn near every word and love it but also tell me when they don’t.

And to finally, but mostly, to my Dad.  Dad is doing such wonderful things for me.  He got an incredible deal for me with the printer he works with and they are doing some awesome things on my behalf.  I don’t know where this belief in my writing came from, or in me, but I am in awe.  On Friday, The Boyfriend and I are going up to visit the printer where, as Dad put it, I am getting the red carpet treatment as the star writer.

It makes me giggle.  “Star writer.”  

Dad also found someone to create a website for me and he’s paying for the domain name.  

He rocks.  

I am grateful for all my blessings, which include my children who, albeit reluctantly, help with the chores when I can’t and my ex-husband who does bigger things, and some little things.  I occasionally do something nice for him but he doesn’t expect it.  Doesn’t want or need it.  

Yesterday my baby sister got me tickets to go see The Nutcracker.  For no apparent reason, she just did it because she knows someone who could and would do it.  She also must have known that I’ve always loved the show and wanted to see it in person.  When I was talking to that man on the phone, because he called me to tell me about it, he said “It sure is raining [blessings] on you, isn’t it?”

Yeah, it is.  I don’t know what it is or why but it is.  There was a huge loss in my life in the last little bit, a source of mammoth grief for myself and those in Scotland, and it reminds me that gratitude must be expressed.  The love you receive must be shared.  I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve it, to receive all these blessings and I’m not going to ask.  To ask would make me seem ungrateful and while I’m curious I am most definitely NOT ungrateful. 

So here I am, throwing my gratitude out to the universe.  And my promise to continue doing whatever it was that earned me this place so I can take these things and build upon them.  

 

NaNo.  

NaNo is going beautifully!  I am 16,048 words into it on day seven!  That leaves me with 33, 952.  And no, I didn’t do the math. *laughs*  When you update your word count, it tells you automatically how much you’ve done, what your daily average is (2,292) and how much is left.  

My favourite parts so far:

Context: You all remember in the prologue that Eugene Van Massenhoven’s entire family was killed, except for the little girl.  Ari and Ren went to visit Kirsten and her grandparents:

Keith turned and smiled as Kirsten held her arms out to her Papa.  She held a soft stuffed monkey by the arm in one hand, her grip so tight the knuckles were white..  “Come here, Kissy.  You remember Detective Valerie don’t you?”  The wee girl nodded and Keith went on.  “The men behind him are your Daddy’s bosses.  They brought you donuts.”

Tears filled the girl’s eyes and Keith hurried to sit down with her, cradling her in his lap.  “It’s ok, Kissy, it’s okay .  They just want to talk a little bit, alright?” 

When she shook her head Ari approached, pulling a chocolate covered donut out of the bag.  He knelt beside Keith’s chair and smiled at the girl, turning on the Santa charm.  “It’s okay if you don’t want to talk to me.  I’m going to talk to your Grampa though, okay?”  He held out the donut to her.  “Do you like these ones?”

She nodded her head and held out her free hand.  When Ari gave it to her she “fed” the monkey the first bite then took one of her own.  He backed away from her and sat in a nearby chair to give her some space.

Ari listened as Ren spoke to Mary but he was busy watching grandfather and granddaughter.  He watched as Keith spoke soothingly to the little girl but she never said anything in return.  She answered his questions with a head shake or a nod or a shrug.  When Keith finally looked helplessly at him Ari smiled.  “Mind if I try?”

“I don’t … Yeah sure.”  Keith was tired.  His heart hurt, his head hurt.  He didn’t know what to do with his granddaughter in this state.  He didn’t know whether to get her therapy or just wait it out.  The nightmares were the only time she talked and then it was only to scream four words:  Mommy, Daddy, her brother’s name, Tommy, and the word no.  Over and over and over again.  He had begged the cops at the door to get them ear plugs but they could still hear it.  He would hear it until the day he died.

Ari smiled at Kirsten, letting the Santa shine through.  Even Keith suddenly relaxed and smiled.  “I know you,” he said.

Ari’s eyes flicked to him but refocused on the little girl once Keith had quieted.  “Hello Kissy… May I call you Kissy?”   When the girl nodded, Ari continued.  “Do you know who I am?”

She nodded again, this time hard enough to make both Ari and her grandfather think she might hurt herself. 

“Can you tell me who I am?”

Kirsten opened and then closed her mouth again and shook her head, mouth turned down at the corners.  Keith slumped in his seat.

 

Chapter Eleven

 

Ari smiled that megawatt smile all the mall Santas tried to emulate.  “That’s okay Kissy.  You’re five aren’t you?”  He smiled as she nodded again.  “Do you like to play dress up?”  Another nod.  “You dress up like a princess I bet.”  He knew the answer full well.

A head shake with a half a smile. 

“No?  Do you dress up like a monkey?”

A small smile and a head shake.

“Do you dress up like a banana?  Let the monkey glom on you?”

A bigger smile and another head shake.

“Do you like to dress up like an alien with a monkey side kick?”

A small giggle escaped her and she shook her head.

Keith sat very still and stared at her in shock.  Mary stopped talking and began to come over.  Only Ren’s hand on her arm kept her from interfering.

“I know!  You like to dress up like a… pirate, right?”  Ari smiled conspiratorially, dropping his voice to a whisper on the last two words.

“Yes!”  The word and a giggle burst from the wee girl and she immediately stuffed the monkey into her mouth, eyes wide.

“It’s alright, you can talk to me.  You know you can trust me, right?”

Kirsten slowly removed the monkey from her mouth and tried the word again.  “Yes.”

Ari held out his arms.  “Do you want to come sit on my lap?”

The little girl pressed closer to her grandfather for a moment then slipped from his lap and approached Ari.  She let him lift her onto his knee and stared at him solemnly for a long moment.  Suddenly she hit him in the chest with a tiny fist.  Then she dropped the monkey and hit him with both fists, screaming in rage.  

Everyone in the room but Ari jumped in surprise and Keith leapt from his chair.  Ren moved quickly and gently pushed him back into the chair as Ari shook his head.

It wasn’t long before she wound down and started crying.  It was the first expression of emotion anyone had seen from her while awake.  Everyone from the detective to Keith stared at her in shock as Ari held the tiny girl against his chest and stroked her hair.  “It’ll be okay, Kissy, it’ll be okay.”

“You dint come. I was calling you.  You dint come.  The man hurt them.  You dint come.”  She sobbed uncontrollably, repeating those three words over and over again.

At that even Ari’s eyes burned with tears.  Mary’s breath caught and she pressed both hands to her mouth to keep from saying anything.  Valerie bit the inside of her cheek trying to control herself and Keith rubbed his face with both hands.  Ari rocked her in the chair and kept stroking her hair.  “I’m sorry, Kissy.  I am sorry I didn’t hear you.  I am sorry that man hurt your family.”

A tiny growl cut through her cries.  “He was a bad man!  He looked like a nice man but then he was a bad man!”  She hiccupped then said, “He looked funny.”

Valerie’s attention was snagged and she shifted into cop mode.  She opened her mouth but Ren shook his head so she settled for taking out her notebook. 

Ari kept rocking the girl though she shook his hand off her hair.  “He was funny looking?”

“He had eyes like this,” she took her hands, put them on the corners of her eyes and pulled back.

“Like this?”  Since she was facing him and not everyone else, he put his fingers in the corners of his eyes and pulled back until he had almond shaped eyes.

“Yes!  He was a bad man!”

“Was he dressed like a pirate?”  Ari asked the question even though he could see the man in her head.

The angry, talkative little girl scoffed.  “No! He was dressed like one of the men Daddy brings home for dinner with Mommy sometimes.”

“He was wearing a suit?”

“Yes!”

“Was he tall like Daddy?”

“No!  But he hurt them anyway.  He wanted to hurt me, Santa.  But I escaped.”  She looked pleased with herself.  “I hid until Papa came.”  Then her face fell again.  “Is he going to try to hurt me?”

“He might.  That’s why we’re going to move you and Grampa and Gramma somewhere safe.”  Ari nodded at Ren who seemed resigned but pulled out Ari’s iPad.  “Would you like to see my house?”

Valerie objected.  “Sir!  You can’t take them from here!  We’re in the middle of-“

“If you want them to be able to testify when you catch this man, you need them to be safe.  You’ll be able to talk to them anytime you need to.”  Ari’s voice was chilled. 

“I… but… Yes, Sir.”  Valerie thought of her Chief’s reaction and shuddered.

“Don’t worry I’ll make it right with your Chief.”  Ari turned his megawatt smile on Kirsten.  “Would you like to meet my wife first?”  Then he leaned close and whispered in her ear.  “And Ren over there is my head elf; he has a daughter you can talk to too.”

Kirsten looked at Ren in surprise then whispered back, loudly.  “But he’s so tall!”

Ari chuckled as Ren handed him the iPad.  “But it’s true.  Do you know what Skype is?”

She nodded.  “We talk to Daddy on it when he goes far away.”  She looked up at Ari, eyes clouded.  “Will I be able to talk to Mommy and Daddy and Tommy on Skype now?”

“No, I’m sorry, Pirate Kissy, they are waiting for you somewhere Skype doesn’t reach.”  He dialed his wife and smiled as she came on screen.  “Mien Liebling.”

“My husband.  I am glad to see you.  Who is the angelic waif you have in your lap?”

“This is Kissy the Pirate.  I was hoping she and her grandparents could come and visit.”

Heidi’s eyes shifted from Kirsten’s face to Ari’s.  He nodded in answer to the question in her eyes.  The sadness passed over her face quickly then she smiled brightly and quickly made Kirsten adore her.  “Well, Pirate Kissy, I am Heidi. I am pleased to meet you.”

Context:  

Ari and Ren are in Chicago at Tootsie Roll Industries.  A board meeting of sorts.

“A catchy tune doesn’t sell.  No eighties redux.  New products require a new approach.”  Ari looked down at the reports.  “Accounting.”  He looked back up and looked at each of them in turn.  He reached two women sitting side by side and looked back and forth between them.  “Janie and Jessie.  I hope you ladies are well.”

“Yes Sir.”  Janie nodded.

Jessie’s voice cracked on her first try and she cleared her throat.  “Just fine, Sir.”

“Would you explain where three million, two hundred and forty-two thousand, six hundred and seventeen dollars went?”

As one the rest of the executives turned to the pair.  They both blushed furiously and Jessie slouched in her chair.  It was Janie who answered.  “No Sir, we cannot answer that.”

“Why not?”  Ari’s gaze was sharp on them both as he rifled through their heads.

“Because we really don’t know.  We’ve been looking for it everywhere.”

“Why are you blushing?”

“Uh… Sir… You did just make a spectacle of us.”

Ari nodded.  “Fair enough.  I want you two to find that money by the end of the week.  Whomever has taken it will be dealt with.  I am satisfied that neither of you has done it.  You may have whatever resources you will need.”

Jessie straightened up.  “We need two more accountants to help comb through the divisions; preferably fraud examiners, at the very least CPAs with experience in forensic accounting.   Whoever is doing this is very good.  And has access to at least half the company.”

“Bring in whoever you need.  Ren, be sure they have the budget to spend the hours.”  He looked down the table at the two.  “Ladies, this is your only assignment.  I want this money found.  No one steals from SCE.”

“Yes Sir.”  The spoke and nodded simultaneously.

“Get started.”

As they rose, Ren spoke up.  “Try Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.  They have some good accountants there.”

They looked at him and blinked.  “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern… Aren’t they dead?”  Janie offered the observation.

Ren grinned at the reference and Janie grinned back.  “Only according to Tom Stoppard.  I assure you, they are alive and well.”

“Yes Sir.”   The two gathered their things.

“One more thing, if I may.”  Ari stood up and reached into his pocket.  He walked down the length of the table and handed them a small box.  It hadn’t been there in his pocket until he wanted it.  “When you have completed this assignment, take three weeks off and go get married like you want to.  Use these.”

The two opened the box and gasped at the contents.  Ari looked at the rings and smiled.  “Platinum bands set with small rubies for the passions you share.  Rest assured that your positions with SCE will be here as long as you wish to be here.”

They looked from the rings to each other and then threw their arms around him.  “Thank you! There are no words for our gratitude!”  Jessie’s voice was choked up.

He hugged them back then released them.  “You’re welcome. Get the job done, ladies.”  He went back to his seat as they left.  “Next?”

“Why don’t we try the new flavours, Herrani?”

One of the men leapt up from the table at Ari’s nod and brought him a small plate of the bite sized tootsie rolls.  “We are trying some cocktail flavoured rolls to try and regain the older market.”  He began pointing at each of them.  “We have strawberry daiquiri, long island iced tea, apple martini, tequila sunrise, baja gold, bahama mama, rum and coke and pina colada.”

Ari eyed the technicolour candies.  “That’s a lot of flavours.  What on earth is a baja gold?”

The man’s eyes lit up.  “Quite nice actually.  It’s pineapple juice, Añejo tequila, triple sec, sweetened lime juice and the juice of half a lime.”

Ren looked skeptical.  “That does not sound pleasing at all.”

Ari promptly picked that one up and broke it in half.  He handed one half to Ren.  “Here you go.  On the count of three.  One… two…”  He chuckled as Ren made a face and opened his mouth.  “Three!”

They popped the candy halves into their mouths at the same time and chewed.  Lime and tequila flavours exploded in their mouths.  Bottles of water and a small plate of baguette slices were set between them.  Both of them looked surprised at the flavor.

Ari swallowed.  “That’s actually pretty good.”  He sipped the water and put a half a baguette in his mouth.

Ren finished chewing and agreed.  They did not like the daiquiri or the apple martini but approved the rest.  The rest of the new flavour ideas trickled in from the departments.  They disapproved of the raspberry mint Andies with Ari saying in an aside to Ren, “Why is everyone trying to put fruit and mint together? It just doesn’t work!”

 

Chapter Fourteen

 

Finally the last department came forward.  The woman cleared her throat as she set the plate down between them.  “With the zombie apocalypse thing such a rage right now we thought we’d tailor back on the vampire teeth and big lips to offer these.”

On the plate were several wax fingers that looked like they were rotting.  The fingernails were cracked looking with dirt and blood under them; pus coated the knuckles and it looked like the skin was tearing off.  There were two sets of wax lips with teeth.  They had torn, cracked lips and rotting, twisted, dirty and bloody teeth.  It was all somewhat cartoony but still looked like zombie fingers and mouths.

Ari picked up one of the fingers and studied it.  It was hollow for a little way and he managed to wriggle the tip of his pinkie finger in it.  The whole thing was about three inches long.  “This is ingenious!  It’ll fit most children’s fingers?”

“Yes Sir.”  The woman glowed with the praise.  “We used the children of employees to check.  They seemed to really like the idea, even the girls.”

“Phenomenal!  How do they taste?”

“We have cherry, cola, vanilla and we received permission from Dr. Pepper to make the red portions that flavour.”

“You put all those flavours in one finger?”

“Of course, Sir.  We felt it shouldn’t all be one flavour and the research proved it.  We chose the flavours carefully for compatibility.”

“Herrani.”

“Yes Ren.”  Ari continued studying the finger.

“Those are just this side of being incredibly disgusting.”

The woman beamed.  “Why thank you, Mr. Yutai.  That’s exactly what we were going for.”

Ari picked up a second finger and handed it to Ren who looked at it in revulsion.  “Must I?”

“Absolutely,”  Ari said with a grin.

The woman was enjoying herself immensely.  She took great pleasure in her work.  “Do try the fingernail, Mr. Yutai.  It’s the best part.”

That last bit was TWO favourite parts in one.  I love what Ari did for Janie and Jessie and the zombie wax figures.

I don’t know where this stuff comes from, I really don’t but I do so enjoy the reactions it gets.  😉

Enjoy the rest of the day folks!

Muah.

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