Please check out my Boot Camp blog for an update on Full Circle! Here’s this week’s scene for you though…
My thoughts: One of my favourite parts about the series is that it is an ensemble piece in many aspects. I particularly love Eli and Lilia and how much they love each other and their baby girl…
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Copyright © 2018 Jody Klaire.
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Oppidum in springtime.
Beside the river and the slow creak of the waterwheel, Lilia Lorelei wiped off her hands and took the cuttings into the kitchen from her herb garden. Mrs. Squirrel was chasing some poor gentleman squirrel from her patch, and Eli was attempting to help the girls with their homework.
A peaceful picture only there was nothing peaceful about it. She was home but her baby wasn’t; no, her baby was out there somewhere and was hurt; her baby was out there and she had no way to find her or help her. She was home, sure, but she and Eli were taking it in turns to see who could drive themselves crazy with guilt.
Cookies. Just bake cookies.
“Didn’t know you could stick basil in cookies,” Eli managed, trying for a smile but his eyes were worn and he’d lost twenty pounds since Aeron had been missing.
“You can’t but then this is lavender.” Lilia winked at the girls who giggled.
They seemed to know something was wrong. Both Ruth and Louise tried their hardest to keep Eli busy and happy and not remembering that he was suspended but even they couldn’t quite bring a smile to his face.
“Momma Lilia, how’d you learn to cook so good?” Ruth asked in her hoity tone. She didn’t get that from Eli but she did have his ears.
“The FBI.” Lilia tapped her nose.
Eli scowled at her.
“They sometimes swoop into towns and teach people to cook… on rest days.” She shrugged. What? It wasn’t like the girls didn’t know she’d been in the FBI. Mrs. Stein told anyone who strayed within hollering distance that Lilia and Aeron were top agents who rescued folks and she’d loved them since they were babies.
“They teach Aeron to cook ‘cause she gets hungry a whole lot?” Louise asked and shook her head like she wasn’t sure why she’d said it.
“She does but she has more space to fill.” Lilia cocked her head at Louise. She had some kind of senses about her. Not Lorelei ones but there was something there.
“Yeah. She kinda needs to stop bugging the breeze though,” Louise mumbled, averting her gaze from Ruth who was staring at her. “The breeze don’t like it when she pops the lights.”
Lilia exchanged a glance with Eli.
“The breeze?” Eli cuddled her close.
“Yeah. The smiley lady with white hair.” Louise gazed up at him. “She checks up on me when I’m scared.”
Lilia beamed. She couldn’t help it. “Thanks, Momma,” she whispered.
“Blood or not, she’s a Lorelei too,” Nan whispered back with a chuckle.
Louise smiled as if she heard it. “I’m gonna be a police chief like you.” She snuggled into Eli who looked a cross between panicked and delighted. “I don’t wanna bake.”
Ruth rolled her eyes. “I’m gonna be FBI.”
Lilia raised her eyebrows.
Ruth shrugged. “You’re the best at cookies.” She tugged Louise by the arm and they scurried off up the stairs bickering.
“I don’t want them to be either,” Eli muttered. “I got enough worrying going on.”
“How ‘bout you help me?” She put the lavender on the counter.
“Honey, I am no cook.” He rubbed at his chin then at his receding hairline.
“No, but Bess can’t remember what happened with Charlie. An’ when she retired, I took over then she had the crash. I think I didn’t spot something.” She glanced up the stairs but she could hear the girls giggling to some daft song. “I could use you helping me to piece things together.”
Eli tapped the chair beside him. “You sure? I’m not meant to know this stuff.”
“I trust you.” She tapped him on the nose with her nail. “And you’ve been itching to know what I was up to.”
Lilia took a long breath. “Then I guess I’ll start with why I left.” She handed him the lavender to wash and he stared at it.
Just don’t expect flowers.
She shook her head at the odd vision of Frei and Renee in ball gowns. She knew they’d been to Marcello’s. Why was that probing at her?
“So, I saw a young doctor who was going to get hurt and went to Dan, like I told you.” She took his hands and placed them and the lavender in the sink. “Then, Bess and I worked together for a good while. Charles Black was gone by that point but Renee was pushing to be recruited.”
Eli reached for the soap and Lilia caught his hand. “So, you were in CIG when Renee’s dad was gone, I got it.” He gave her a confused smile. “I can follow that much.”
Why can I hear whistling?
Lilia winced as a full force whistle tried piercing her eardrums. Why was her freaky side, as Bess called it, telling her Renee had heard Aeron whistle? She knew that already.
“You wash them without soap.” She smiled at Eli, hoping it covered her wincing.
“Oh.” Eli shrugged and slammed the taps on with all the grace of a grizzly half-asleep. Water shot out and hit her full in the face.
“Nan, I gotta tell them I’m okay. I want mom to know I’m okay.” Aeron rubbed at her hands, glaring at the taps in front of her. “She’ll hear me, I know she will.”
“Shorty, you’re hearing folks in closets, you ain’t exactly a full nut stash right now.” Nan held her hand to Aeron’s sweaty forehead.
“I ain’t ever been a full nut stash.” Aeron chuckled then switched on the taps. “You know I used to feel her watching me growing up, even though I didn’t know it was her. I could feel her. That weren’t a whole lot better than crazy neither.”
“Your momma been keeping her heart close to you the whole time and you know it.” Nan tapped her on the nose.
“Well then, she knows I love her and she’ll hear me.” Aeron shoved her hands under the water. “Not like I can just call.” She sighed and closed her eyes. “Mom, I’m okay… I’m——”
Lilia gripped her head. “Ow.”
Eli was peering down at her, wet lavender still in his hand. “You ain’t ever been knocked off your feet by herbs before.”
Lilia chuckled then swatted him with her free hand. “She’s okay.” She held his gaze and pulled him into a hug. “I don’t know where she is and she’s not great… but she’s conscious and she’s causing trouble…” She grinned at him. “And she loves me.”
“You’re her momma.” Eli kissed her and hoisted her up into his arms, lavender still in hand. “Why’d that surprise you so much?”
“She felt me even when she didn’t know I existed.” Lilia held on as Eli carried her to the couch and settled her with a blanket. “It felt like she missed me.”
He handed her the lavender. “We both missed you something awful.” He kissed her on the forehead. “We should tell the girls. The firecracker especially.”
“Oh, I think Aeron’s probably made her pass out already.” She took the flowers and let out a sigh of relief. “Hopefully there was less whistling.” She wiggled a finger in her ear. “She whistles louder than you.”
Eli wrinkled up his mouth in a way that Aeron did when she was being teased by Renee. “I’ll have you know my whistling is completely outta key.”
“Off key.” Lilia tapped him on the nose with her lavender. “I missed you both too, you get that?”
He nodded and stole the lavender off her. “Yep, who wouldn’t miss bad singing and loud whistling.” He got to his feet and headed back to the sink. “So, what were you doing while we got all musical?”
Lilia sighed. “Bess got forced to resign because Dan and his team were caught in some ambush. We lost all of them. The military side of CIG didn’t know what Dan and his team had been doing and Dan had left me out of the loop too.” She wandered over, rubbing at her head. “Guess he thought I’d tell Bess.”
“Don’t surprise me.” Eli rolled his eyes but it didn’t quite look as genuine as he was trying to make out. Dan had been his best friend growing up. He’d been the one to try and comfort Dan’s bereft mom. “He didn’t much like following orders, I was shocked they let him in.”
Lilia rewashed the lavender. “Really? I thought you would have been the first one to defend him.”
Eli wagged his finger. “Back then, maybe. I grown plenty of hairs since then.” He rubbed at his bald patch. “And lost a lot more.” He leaned on the counter. “We were dumb kids together; it kinda takes getting old to realize it.”
Lilia turned back to the sink. “You grew up.”
Eli chuckled. “Nope, I just know how to act all proper when I need to.” He bumped her hip putting on a Lorelei lilt. “But a nut wouldn’t be a nut if it didn’t grow a case.”
Lilia blurted out her laugh and leaned her throbbing head to his broad shoulder. “I think even Nan might like that one.”
The tickly breeze confirmed it.