Great stories about good people caught in difficult situations.

Chapter Four Hundred and Ninety-three : Fast friends


Sunday morning — 6:32 a.m.

Leadville, Colorado

Wrapped in warm gear, Yvonne stood on the deck facing the Evergreen Cemetery. She’d been up since before first light. She’d wanted to see if she could see this thing, this “Fire of Hell”, in the dim-light of dawn. Hearing the sliding door open behind her, she turned to see Jacob. He was carrying two cups of earl grey tea with cream. He held one out to her, which she took. He closed the door behind him and joined her at the edge of the deck. They stood together in the cold early morning silently drinking their tea. She nodded to the cup.

“You didn’t make me my special tea,” Yvonne said.

“I didn’t,” Jacob said. “Would you rather have that?”

Yvonne shook her head.

“Best to be at my highest power,” Yvonne said evenly.

“Have you ever gone without your tea?” Jacob asked.

Yvonne thought for a moment and then shook her head.

“It was something Rodney thought of,” Yvonne said.

“What was?” Jacob asked.

“I wasn’t really sure why I was invited on this … adventure,” Yvonne said. “Rodney and I talked a lot about it. We decided that it might have something to do with whatever the tea keeps at bay.”

“How many days have you not had the tea?” Jacob asked.

“Just today,” Yvonne gave Jacob an ironic smile. “I was too afraid not to take it in town in case … I don’t know something like happens on 1970s sitcoms happens.”

“You blew out the entire neighborhood?” Jacob asked with a laugh.

“Or worse.” Yvonne grinned. “The Russians respond with some nukes and then … It’s all she wrote. Just because I didn’t take my tea.”

Jacob grinned at Yvonne. He hadn’t spent a lot of time with Yvonne, but by his eye, she seemed more beautiful — glowing and alive — than usual. He wondered if that had something to do with the tea.

“Will you know how to wield the power?” Jacob asked.

Yvonne turned to look at him. Their eyes held for a second before she shook her head.

“I’ll tell you what,” Jacob said. “Why don’t we spend the morning at the Marlowe mine? You can see what powers you have.”

“Why do you think I have any?” Yvonne asked.

“I think you’re one of the most powerful people I’ve ever met,” Jacob said. “The question is what are those powers? Can you move things like I can? Can you bend time like Abi or the other fairies? What are you good at? What do you like?”

Jacob shrugged.

“I did all of that when I was a kid,” Jacob said. “Valerie, too. It’s just time to figure it out for you.”

“I will come with you,” Abi said as she appeared on the front deck. They startled and she said, “I’m sorry. I was checking on the girls. Fin is a wonderful man, but he’s … well … Once a prince, always a pain in the ass. At least that is what Jill was just telling me.”

She made a pained look.

“Jill took them away from him,” Abi said with a nod. “I love your wife, Jacob.”

“What did he do?” Jacob asked.

“Nothing bad,” Abi said.

Jacob tipped his head to the side.

“Please tell us,” Yvonne said.

Abi’s head jerked to Yvonne. She grinned at her granddaughter.

“Nice,” Abi said with a nod. “The girls are very powerful. Fin set them up in a tournament to see which baby had more power than the other. I’m sure it was epic, as Nash would say. But they are babies first. In the mind of the Prince, he wanted to know which one would be powerful enough to defend the realm.”

“Did he really say that?” Jacob said with a laugh.

Rather than respond, Abi raised her eyebrows and cleared his throat. Yvonne and Jacob laughed. After a moment, Jacob looked at Abi.

“So, are you going to tell us who won?” Jacob asked.

Abi laughed and Yvonne batted at Jacob. They laughed. Jacob raised his eyebrows and Abi mouthed “Zoe.”

“No surprise there,” Jacob grinned.

“We’ll pretend we don’t know,” Yvonne said.

“Please do. Jill has them now,” Abi said. “Edie said that she will keep her brother at bay.”

“Can she do that?” Yvonne asked.

“If you repeat this, I will deny that I said it, but …” Abi grinned. “Edie is the most powerful of all of Queen Fand’s children.”

“Really?” Jacob asked. “Why is she caring for babies and on the Fairy Corps?”

“Her mother instinctively doesn’t want such a powerful fairy close to her,” Abi said. She tipped her head to the side and lifted a shoulder in a shrug. “What is a little more true is that I have hid Edie from her mother. Gilfand and I are honing her skills. She had created real relationships with the other three fairies Queendoms. If the time comes when we need her power, she will lead all of the fairy armies to war.”

“Not Fin?” Yvonne asked.

Abi shook her head quickly and then laughed.

“Who knows?” Abi asked. “For every time I’ve thought this funny planet would end, I have been wrong each time. Don’t listen to me.”

Jacob scowled. He opened his mouth to ask about the end of the world, but Abi looked at Yvonne and then Jacob.

“Are we going to the Marlowe Mine?” Abi asked. She gave Yvonne a bright smile. “It’s time, Yvonne.”

Yvonne nodded. Abi reached to touch Jacob to transport them there.

“If you don’t mind, I’d rather drive,” Jacob said. “I need to see if the road is clear. Valerie has been talking about opening the mine. I need to see how much work we need to do to get the road ready for even just the inspections.”

Abi nodded. They went back into the cabin to collect their gear. Jacob checked in with his father and Delphie. Blane decided to come with them. In a few minutes, they were in Sam’s SUV on their way to open the Marlowe Mine for the first time in fifty years.


Sunday afternoon — 4:35 p.m.

Paris, France


Sissy heard a young woman call her name. They were in the open triangle at the entrance from the Jardin des Tuilaries from the Place de la Concorde. Because dancers from the Paris Opera Ballet and the Royal Ballet were going to be there, the Parisian authorities thought that there would be a lot of people watching. The area they were setting up in had long ramps called the Fer à Cheval (or horseshoe), in which people would watch from the ramp. The a work team from the gardens were setting up rows of seats. Approved vendors were already setting up.

Teddy and Nash were just setting up when a famous Parisian film crew arrived. They introduced Teddy to their crew. Worried that they might offend Teddy, they were extra polite. Of course, Teddy was simply delighted to have a chance to learn, especially when he learned that his friend, Max Hargreaves, had set the whole thing up. In no time, the film crew helped direct Nash and Teddy in setting up Teddy’s cameras. They were already broadcasting live from the site.

Not seeing anyone, Sissy went back to unpacking the warm costumes they used for these events.

“Sissy!” the woman screamed again.

Ivan touched Sissy’s arm and pointed to the locked gates where Ramona, Sissy’s friend from the New York ballet school, was standing. Sissy ran to the gate to meet her friend. With Sissy’s approval, Ramona was let inside. The guard was just closing the gate when Piper from the Royal Ballet scooted through.

“Sissy!” Piper said.

“Sissy!” Ramona said.

The girls looked at each other in awkward silence. Sissy laughed and made the introductions.

“Why however did you get here?” Piper asked Ramona.

“My dad paid for it,” Ramona said. “Of course I begged and begged.”

Two of Ivan’s Esprit de Corps dancers moved past them.

“Oh hey, Ramona,” one of the men said. “I didn’t know you were here.”

Embarrassed, Ramona gestured toward Sissy.

“Yeah, I guess that makes sense,” he said. He grabbed her elbow and squeezed it. “It’s good to see you.”

He floated away toward Ivan. Sissy grinned. Ivan had drilled into the men that they should treat each ballerina with special care. She saw Ivan asking about the interaction.

“Oh my,” Piper said, fanning herself as if was hot. “I have the vapers!”

Sissy and Ramona laughed.

“Is he your boyfriend?” Piper asked.

“I wish,” Ramona said, in a quiet voice.

“He’s cute as heck,” Piper said. “My, my, my, we are going to have fun tonight.”

Sissy grinned at the girls. She had hoped that Ramona and Piper would be fast friends. So far so good!

“How did your dad afford it?” Sissy asked Ramona.

“I don’t know,” Ramona said. “He said it was miles or something like that. Personally, I think he was excited for me to be on the Internet again. Last time, he played the tape over and over again for his friends.”

“He’s really proud of you,” Sissy said.

“Or just a weirdo,” Ramona said.

Piper laughed as if that was the funniest thing she’d ever heard. Sissy grinned at her friends.

“We’ll be on again, won’t we?” Ramona asked.

“You’re on right now,” Sissy pointed to the camera.

Ramona and Piper turned in unison. Experienced enough with performance to turn to the cameras and wave, they turned back and gave each other a little squeal. Sissy laughed.

“What happens now?” Piper asked.

“We should talk to Ivan,” Sissy said. “He wanted to start early because we’re going to see the Royals later tonight before heading back to the US. I was just unpacking the costumes.”

“Sissy?” Nadia asked.

Sissy turned to look at the woman. She introduced Ramona and Piper to Nadia.

“Do you know what’s next?” Sissy asked.

“Yes, in fact, I do,” Nadia said with a grin. “I was instructed that this is ‘get out of the way’ time. The Royal Ballet bus has just pulled up and the Paris Opera Ballet is already setting up.”

Nadia pointed to the bus and to where two Parisians were looking over their space.

“Pip, do you have to go with the company?” Sissy asked.

Piper shook her head and looked a little embarrassed.

“What is it?” Nadia asked with characteristic straightforwardness.

“They are only bringing the older kids,” Piper said. “I wasn’t invited.”

“You were invited by me!” Sissy said.

Piper grinned.

“If there’s trouble, I will speak with them,” Nadia said. “Don’t worry about this stuff. Men always make fussy rules and exclusionary regulations to keep ambitious women down. You want to have an interesting life, you have to grab ahold of your opportunities.”

Piper grinned at Nadia.

“I thought we could get something to eat,” Nadia said.

Nadia waved to Giovanni and he came over with Tink and Charlie. Nash and Teddy joined them.

“Ivan?” Sissy asked looking for him.

“He wanted to stay,” Nadia said. Leaning into Sissy, she said, “He cannot resist controlling things.”

Sissy grinned.

“Giovanni says that he has a reservation at some fun place right here,” Nadia said.

Giovanni smiled and nodded.

“Lead on,” Nadia said. When everyone headed on, Nadia said in a low voice to the girls, “Don’t worry about paying. This is my treat and I can more than afford it.”

She stepped forward to take Nash’s elbow and they started forward down Place de la Concorde.

“Was she serious?” Ramona asked Sissy. Piper nodded.

“Yes,” Sissy said. “About everything.”

Sissy linked arms with her ballerina friends.

“Come on,” Sissy said. “Let’s eat now, dance later, and be merry the whole time.”

Laughing at Sissy, the girls followed everyone to the restaurant.


Sunday night — 7:15 p.m.

London, England

A shuttle from the House of Windsor had scooped up Sissy, Ivan, and her friends, Piper and Ramona to take them to Kensington Palace to meet and dance for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. They were rushing to get there before their toddler daughter went to sleep. The shuttle would take Sissy and Ivan back to their party in Paris after this short visit with the Royals. They were taking a charter back to New York City, so they could leave at any time.

For most of the trip, Ivan had hung back to allow Sissy and her friends to chat. Sissy now sat tucked under Ivan’s arm in the back of an armored vehicle with James Kelly at the wheel. Piper and Ramona were up front so that Piper could show Ramona the sights.

“I think you should stay here,” Ivan said in a low voice.

Sissy scowled but didn’t respond.

“This is the biggest thing that could ever happen to you,” Ivan said. “You will grow in ways that you cannot expect or imagine.”

Sissy looked up at Ivan.

“Would you like that?” Sissy asked. “If I grew in unimaginable ways?”

Ivan smiled at Sissy but didn’t respond.

“Is it possible you’re attempting to control this whole thing?” Sissy asked.

Ivan pressed a hand to his chest. He pretended to be surprised and offended by her words. Sissy grinned.

“I need some time …” Sissy started.

“You don’t have time,” Ivan said. “This is a tremendous opportunity. No one is going to wait for you to see if you’ll take it.”

Sissy sighed and looked at him.

“What?” Ivan asked.

“You are acting like you’re my teacher and I’m your student,” Sissy said.

“I am your teacher and you are my student,” Ivan said. “I always hoped for something like this but never imagined that it would actually happen. How could it? You lived in Denver. Your mother canceled your ballet studies!”

Sissy sighed and leaned back.

“What?” Ivan repeated.

“You can be very infuriating,” Sissy said.

“This is news?” Ivan asked.

Sissy chuckled and turned to him.

“You want to be across the ocean from me?” Sissy asked.

“Never,” Ivan said. “No.”

“You’ll stay here with me?” Sissy asked.

Ivan shook his head.

“That’s what I need time with,” Sissy said.

“What will time give you?” Ivan asked. “Will it help you make a decision? Because if you don’t know it, I know that you’ve made a decision already.”

Sissy shook her head at him and looked away. A few minutes passed before either one dared to move. Sissy sighed.

“I don’t know how to do this,” Ivan said in a low voice. “I don’t know how to say ‘good-bye’ to you and ‘hello’ to the opportunity in the same moment.”

“We were apart for years!” Sissy said.

“We weren’t … this,” Ivan said, softly. He touched her chin. “You make every day wonderful for me.”

Sissy smiled at him.

“I will not stand in your way,” Ivan said.

“You silly, silly man,” Sissy said. “You say on one hand that we can do anything, everything is possible; and on the other hand that we must say ‘good-bye’ because we are living in different cities.”

Ivan watched her face.

“Seth and Ava are often in different cities,” Sissy said. “You saw Nash and Nadia at the dance party?”

Ivan nodded.

“They don’t live in the same city,” Sissy said. “My ballet tutor used to say that we can have everything if we are willing.”

“I am willing,” Ivan said, meekly.

Sissy smiled.

“It won’t be easy,” Ivan said.

“You’re about to start a whole new career, while still teaching every day,” Sissy said. “You’ll fall into your work and hardly remember that I’m gone.”

“That is not true,” Ivan said.

Sissy gave him a hard look.

“That’s only slightly untrue,” Ivan said with a laugh.

Sissy grinned. The car stopped at the gate of Kensington Palace. They waited to be approved to go onto the grounds.

“I will miss you — every moment, every day,” Ivan said.

Sissy looked at his face. He raised his eyebrows and nodded. She leaned back into the comfort of his arms.

“Have you picked a school?” Ivan asked.

“I think so, but I want to talk to Sandy first,” Sissy said.

“Sandy?” Ivan asked.

“Sandy has helped me with every big decision I’ve ever made,” Sissy said.

“This is true,” Ivan said.

He gave Sissy a long look.

“I want to go to our home,” Sissy said. “We can sit down and really talk.”

“And if I won’t let you?” Ivan asked.

“Why wouldn’t you?” Sissy asked.

“You know in your heart where you want to go, right?” Ivan asked.

Sissy nodded.

“I would not love you if I didn’t tell you to go with your heart,” Ivan said. “Don’t hesitate or make excuses or try to make it easier for everyone else. Go with what your heart is telling you. Do it now before you change your mind or chicken out. This is your future. Everyone who loves you will understand.”

Sissy smiled at him.

“What?” Ivan asked.

“That’s my Ivan,” Sissy said.

They pulled up to an area of the Kensington Palace garden that had been set up for them to dance. Principals from the Royal Ballet were waiting for them. Piper and Ramona got out of the vehicle first. Sissy was climbing out when Ivan cleared his throat and pointed.

Sandy was standing next to Seth O’Malley beside the stage. When Sandy saw Sissy, they ran to hug each other.

“How?” Sissy asked.

“O’Malley,” Sandy said. “He wanted to be here for you. He knows the Royal family from some work he did for them. He asked, and I wouldn’t dream of saying ‘no.’ Plus, someone had to film it for Teddy!”

Sissy hugged her sister tight. Ivan touched her back.

“They are asking for us,” Ivan said.

Sissy nodded. She squeezed Sandy’s hand and went to join Ivan to meet the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

Denver Cereal continues next week…

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