Sunday, September 6, 2015

I’m so lost!

Lol Ok, so that’s kind of just me, being overly dramatic … Seriously, though, I just realized that my last blog post put me offline for awhile, but … I’m back (well, yanno!)


Anyway, if you don’t know, Purity 9: Subterfuge is now complete. IKR? Never, ever thought it’d get done; I know … But now it is. It makes me so sad. I’m really going to miss writing about Evan. A lot.


Also complete are the Purity edits I promised. It has a bit of a different feel, I think, so do download the new version of it, too. You can get both of those off Ao3. Just select the “Entire Work” button at the top of the chapter you’re on. Purity loads pretty quickly, but don’t be surprised if Subterfuge takes a bit to load in it’s entirety. It’s HUUUUUUGE …. But once it does load, just hit ‘Download’ and select the format you want. I know that the PDF version works for them—that’s what I downloaded. I can’t account for the others, though. But I hope you enjoy anyway.


So now, I’m just kind of sitting here, trying to figure out where I go from here. I could work on Purity 10: Anomaly, sure, but… I just don’t know. Let me know if there’s something in particular that you’re looking forward to? Help me out here. I’m feeling kind of lonely, after all!

posted by Sueric at 9:36 pm  

Monday, June 2, 2014

P9: 225: One Summer Day

~~Chapter Two Hundred Twenty-Five~~

~One Summer Day~


All my life I’ve prayed for someone like you

And I thank God that I – That I finally found you

All my life I’ve prayed for someone like you

And I hope that you feel the same way, too …

Yes, I pray that you do love me, too …’

-‘All My Life‘ by K-ci and JoJo.




Pushing aside the antique lace curtain, Valerie surveyed the guests as a brigade of butterflies broke loose in her belly. The men hadn’t yet emerged from the mansion, and most of those in attendance were congregating in small groups on the lawn near the raised flower gardens. They hadn’t quite made it to the area where the ceremony was going to take place, and from her vantage point, she could see the gauzy white tents that were arranged further off to the side near the path that led to the beach where the tables had already been set up to accommodate the guests for the reception. After the ceremony, the chairs would be whisked away so that a dance floor could be put down before the small stage where a pristine white baby grand piano stood. When she had mentioned hiring a pianist to play while she walked down the aisle, Evan had grinned and proceeded to call his brother-in-law, Kichiro to ask him to do the honors.


He was the one who had taught Evan to play, so she’d assumed that he was good. What she hadn’t expected when she’d overheard him practicing on the piano in the Zeligs’ living room was the absolute skill with which he played. He was even better than Evan, which, in Valerie’s estimation, was saying a hell of a lot. Evan had said it, too, right after he’d informed her that he’d arranged to have the best pianist in the world play at the ceremony.


Valerie sighed softly, shaking her head as she watched Kichiro climb the stairs and onto the platform to warm up. He would play a few different pieces leading up to the wedding, but the one she’d chosen for her journey down the aisle . . . That Evan had already come up with about a thousand off-kilter jokes about the title of it—Bach’s Air on a G String—was not surprising in the least, either . . .


“Do you think people would be offended if I postponed the wedding until tomorrow?” Valerie asked, only half-joking as she narrowed her eyes at the picture that Madison took with her cell phone. His hair was cut in the same way that it usually was when he was attempting to hide out in the open, and it wasn’t the hair that bothered her nearly as much as it was the memories of the rather nasty run-ins she’d had with him in the past when he’d looked just like that before that made her feel edgy and even more nervous than she might have been otherwise. He felt like a completely different person, and that particular Evan was just not the one she wanted to meet at the end of her long walk.


Madison smoothed her dress and smiled just a little at Valerie’s question. “They might not, but Evan probably would,” she replied.


Heaving another sigh, Valerie shot Madison a droll glance. “I can’t believe he did that,” she muttered.


“Sit,” Madison commanded as she carefully retrieved the veil. Hooked over the edge of the rice paper changing screen, the wispy antique lace was caught in the breeze filtering through the opened balcony doors. Madison gave it a gentle shake as she waited for Valerie to sit down. “If it makes you feel any better, Gin insisted that I cut Cain and Bas’ hair, too.” She wrinkled her nose while Valerie slipped into the bench before the antique dressing table. “Well, she said ‘bald’, but . . .” Uttering a light giggle as she slowly shook her head, she grabbed a couple of hairpins. “I just could not bring myself to shave the tai-youkai and future tai-youkai . . .”


“That just doesn’t really comfort me any,” Valerie remarked dryly.


Madison shrugged though her smile widened as she met her friend’s gaze in the mirror. “Maybe not, but Sydnie damn near had a heart attack when she saw Bas.”


Valerie made a face. Yes, she supposed that Sydnie probably had, and, knowing her, she probably had a few choice things to say about it, too. “That bad?”


Madison grimaced. “Oh, let’s just say that I didn’t know that many curse words existed. I’m pretty sure she invented a few new ones, too.” Settling the veil in place, she sighed. “I’d hate to be him later on. I’m pretty sure she is taking this as a personal slight.”


“She’s not mad at Gin, is she?”


Madison laughed as she arranged Valerie’s curls around the platinum headband affixed to the yards of lace that matched the subtle underskirt of the gown. “Of course she isn’t. She blames Bas and Cain—exactly how it should be.”


“Maybe, but I still have a few choice things to say to Evan,” she promised grimly.


Madison laughed. “I’m sure you do.”


That earned her a longsuffering glance, but she sighed instead of saying anything else on the matter.


“There,” Madison announced after carefully pinning the headband in place. “You look wonderful—drop dead gorgeous.”


“Thanks, Maddy,” Valerie said, rising to her feet.


Valerie didn’t really look relieved, but she heaved a deep breath and worried at her lower lip as the door opened behind them. The chime of little girls’ laughter seemed to lift the slight foreboding that had fallen over the room, and she smiled, unable to help herself, as the three little girls ran over to her to show off their pretty new dresses.


She hadn’t been able to choose one of the girls to do the duty of the flower girl, so Evan had suggested that she ask them all, and Valerie figured that was the best idea he’d had so far, really. Tanny, Kurt and Samantha’s daughter, was the oldest, but Olivia and Takara were only a few months apart in age and pretty darned inseparable, so there was no real way that she could have chosen one of them other the other, anyway. Even at two years old, Olivia and Takara were fast on their way to becoming the best of friends since Takara’s arrival a few months ago when Kagome and InuYasha had arrived to be with Gin while she was pregnant. Now they stood, holding hands as they waited for Valerie’s approval


Kneeling down before the girls, Valerie smiled at each of them. So sweet in the barely-pink satin dresses that their collective mothers had chosen, they looked like perfect little angels. “Aren’t you all just beautiful?” she said.


“I’m a flower girl!” Olivia exclaimed happily.


“Me, too!” Takara added. It was startling, just how well she was latching onto the English language. It seemed like her friendship with Olivia was beneficial to both girls since they seemed to communicate in a strange mixture of Japanese and English as they taught each other as they played together.


“I like your dress,” Tanny ventured, reaching out to touch the silk covering Valerie’s knee.


“And yours is just gorgeous, too,” Valerie insisted, tucking a flyaway strand of the blackest hair behind the child’s ear. The younger girls’ dresses matched exactly, but Tanny’s was just slightly different since she was older, though the satin and lace were perfectly matched. “Do you like your dress?”


Tanny nodded, then laughed when Madison handed each girl a small roll of candy. Evan had told her before that Tanny’s infatuation with all things sweet was far worse when she’d first come into the family, but she hadn’t gotten over it completely. Valerie figured that it was a good thing that Tanny’s metabolism was apparently high enough to burn through the massive amounts of sugar.


“Okay, girls! Let’s go on downstairs to wait,” Samantha said, clapping her hands to gain the girls’ attention.


Three little girls tried to hug Valerie at once, and that resulted in a very loud gale of laughter, and, with a swirl of satin and lace, the sounds of the pale pink Mary Janes clicking on the floor, and they were gone. “You look wonderful,” Samantha said over her shoulder with a bright smile. Then she closed the door behind them as silence fell over the room once more.


A soft knock on the door drew both of their attention, and she smiled when her mother, with Kaci Lea in tow, slipped into the room. Rhonda stopped short as she stared at Valerie, a sheen of moisture surfacing in her eyes. “Oh, I can’t believe . . .” she said, trailing off with a loud sniffle. “You’re so beautiful.”


Kaci Lea gave her the critical once over, and she finally shot her a reluctant little grin, too. Maybe it wasn’t the most open expression, but it was genuine, and Valerie smiled back.


Rhonda crossed the floor and helped Madison bring the veil up and over Valerie’s face. It fell to her waist.


Staring at her reflection in the mirror, Valerie swallowed hard as another wave of butterflies broke free in the depths of her belly. The fitted dress accentuated her figure well, skin tight to the hips where the skirt gently started to flare, wider and wider until it flowed around her ankles. The silk stopped just a few inches above the underskirt of chiffon and vintage lace, trailing out behind her a couple of feet in a whisper. The sleeveless gown was free of embellishment except for the silver thread line of embroidery that ran around the top and again around the bottom hem: a delicate line of gently scrolling vines. All in all, she had to admit that she loved the dress, even if she had teasingly dubbed it the Sausage Casing from Hell.


“Oh!” Kaci Lea exclaimed softly, snatching the garter belt off the table. “You forgot this!”


Madison took it from the girl and pulled it open as she gestured at Valerie’s skirt. “Oh, no, can’t forget that,” she remarked with a grin as she knelt down so that Valerie could step into it.


Hiking up the skirts so she could lift her foot, Valerie laughed as Madison tugged it over her shoe and carefully slipped it up over the sheer stocking. Valerie took over and tugged it into place before letting the fabric drop once more as she shot Madison a nervous little glance as the sound of the piano far below wafted through the window. He changed songs, and it was the last one before he began Air on a G String. “How do I look?”


Madison said nothing as she broke into a gentle smile and simply nodded.


Rhonda smiled and carefully gave Valerie a hug as she tried not to wrinkle her. “Sounds like it’s time,” she said as she grasped the bouquet out of the opened floral box on the dressing table. Perfect white peonies arranged with cascades of soft white tea roses, sprays of fern, blushing tendrils of wisteria . . . The scent of the flowers was absolutely intoxicating, and Valerie took it with slightly trembling hands.


Sparing one last glance in the mirror, Valerie then followed the women from the room.


The mansion was oddly silent, a strangely empty feel radiating through the very walls, leaving behind a pensive quiet that was curiously comforting, like the calm before a storm. It served to settle Valerie’s nerves. Ahead of her, the women were chattering, laughing quietly. Valerie smiled when they glanced back at her, but she didn’t really hear what they were saying. It felt so normal, didn’t it? Her rational brain whispered to her that everything in her life was about to change, yet a part of her knew deep down that the things that were important to her were going to remain the same.


She stopped short as she stepped off the staircase, blinking in surprise as her mouth fell open, as she got a good look at Bas. Hair cut short in much the same way as Evan’s, bangs trimmed just short of falling into his eyes, he looked neat enough, Valerie supposed, despite the obvious irritation in his expression. It just looked weird, really. She had grown way too used to seeing all of Evan’s family members with that flowing hair.


“Okay, come on,” Sydnie prompted, sparing a moment to straighten Olivia and Takara’s pale pink satin skirts before she handed each a little white basket heaping over with white and pink rice paper confetti that would dissolve instantly the next time it rained. Then she slipped Tanny’s basket into her hands and handed the five year-old girl an unwrapped candy. “Make sure they stay on the runner, Tanny,” Sydnie murmured, nodding at the two two-year-old girls. Tanny nodded solemnly.   Bailey shot his mother a longsuffering kind of look as he tugged on the bowtie around his neck before trudging off toward the steps that led down to the yard. She gave the girls a little shove, and they followed along just behind and flanking Bailey, who looked like he’d rather drop the ring bearer pillow and run than to walk down the aisle with his sister, cousin, and aunt. Sydnie spared a moment to pin Bas with a very dry glance before moving off after the children to take her place with the other guests.


Bas snorted indelicately, and Madison refused to look him in the eye while both Kurt and Gavin tried valiantly to look everywhere but directly at Bas, too, and both with varying degrees of success. Gavin finally turned, thus forcing his gaze away, but Kurt gave up the pretense of trying not to look as he stared at Bas rather blatantly, very curiously. “Remind me not to piss off Gin,” he muttered, slowly shaking his head despite the trace grin on his face.


Bas didn’t comment, but he did heave a sigh before shooting Kurt a very dark look as he bent his arm, offering his elbow to Madison. “Feel free to kill Evan on your honeymoon,” Bas muttered to Valerie. She bit her lip and tried not to smile as Madison drew a deep breath and hesitantly slipped her hand under his forearm. The two of them stepped out of the opened doors and down the steps toward the long white runner.


“Well, damn.”


Glancing up into her father’s face, Valerie’s smile widened. “Are you all right, Daddy?”


He wrinkled his nose at her show of concern. “Mind your own business, little girl. I wouldn’t miss this for the world.”


“Good luck,” Kaci Lea whispered quickly before stepping out the door on Kurt’s arm.


“You look beautiful,” Rhonda said, brushing a chaste kiss in the air near Valerie’s cheek. She paused long enough to cast Valerie one last, long look before sniffling softly and stepping away to take Gavin’s arm.   Gavin shot her a decidedly nervous little smile before the pair followed Kaci Lea and Kurt through the doorway. Maybe it wasn’t traditional to have her mother be one of her bridesmaids, but Valerie wouldn’t have it any other way.


“You ready?” Jack asked, his voice suddenly rasping, harsh. She glanced at him quickly, afraid that he really was overdoing it, but she gasped softly at the sheen of tears that brightened his gaze as he stubbornly stared straight ahead, cheeks taking on a decidedly ruddy hue.


“Daddy . . .” she breathed, eyes stinging as tears blurred her vision, as she reached up to press her hand to his cheek.


“Never thought . . . Never thought you’d ever want me to do this for you,” he admitted, clearing his throat, still refusing to meet her gaze.


Her smile trembled precariously as she blinked to dispel the moisture gathered in her eyes. “Of course I would,” she said softly. “I love you.”


He coughed, gaze dropping, and he quickly turned, pulled her against his chest, wrapping his arms around her in a tight hug, unmindful for the moment, whether he was wrinkling her dress or not. “I . . . I love you, too, little girl,” he rasped out, tightening his grip for a moment.


She hugged him back, unwilling to let go, wishing that minute could last for a lifetime, and maybe it did. Reaching back into the lonely place, into those memories of a childhood that was spent in solitude, and suddenly, it didn’t matter at all. She could feel it, couldn’t she? All those things that her father might not ever have been able to say, all those things that culminated in the somber sense of regret that was so palpable to her that it might as well have been a tactile thing . . . Closing her eyes, she willed him to know, to understand, that it was all okay. He might well be her daddy, but she didn’t expect him to be perfect, and what did it matter, in the end? And maybe . . .


Maybe all those things had led her to Evan, and that, in her estimation, was absolutely worth it.


“It’s time,” Jack whispered, giving Valerie a last little squeeze before reluctantly letting his arms fall away moments before offering her his elbow. He cleared his throat and sniffled loudly. “You, uh . . . You ready? I mean, it’s not too late to run away.”


She smiled, her laughter slightly ragged, as she gazed up at her father. He was teasing, and she knew it, and she shook her head. “I thought you like Evan,” she reminded him.


He shrugged. “It doesn’t matter if I like him or not,” he reasoned. “You’re the one marrying him—though I think you made a damn fine choice.” He shrugged as she slipped her hand under his elbow. Covering her hand with his, he started forward, leading Valerie toward the doors as the first notes of ‘Air on a G String‘ drifted to them. “Better than that damned Murwad, anyway.”


Stopping abruptly for just a moment, Valerie shot her father a suspect glance. “How do you know about—? Never mind. Evan told you, didn’t he?”


Jack neither confirmed nor denied Valerie’s question, and she heaved a sigh and then giggled softly. “He is a very nice man,” she maintained stubbornly, leaning toward Jack and dropping her voice to a whisper as they stepped off the porch stairs and onto the white runner. “I have very little doubt that whatever Evan’s told you is completely untrue.”


He chuckled then sighed. “Can’t believe you’re getting married,” he murmured.


Smiling as she met Evan’s gaze over the heads of the assembled guests, Valerie bit her lip. He seemed nervous—she could feel it. Bas leaned toward him and said something, and he shot his brother a droll glance before shifting his gaze back to meet hers once more.


“Aww,” Jack drawled, stopping just long enough for Valerie turn to face him. “Would you look at that? That boy actually seems kind of nervous.”


She laughed softly. “Daddy . . .”


Jack snorted quietly. “Tell me you ain’t above making him sweat it or was your mama lying about you being upset with him for hacking all his hair off?”


“Oh, well, when you put it that way,” Valerie mused. Then she laughed when her father resumed his slow gait once more.


Then Jack sighed. “He’s the one, huh?”


Glancing up into Jack’s face, she nodded. “He is.”


“All right,” he allowed at length. Less than ten steps separated Valerie from Evan, but even at that distance, she could feel the nerves that were rattling off Evan in waves of energy.


She’d seen him moments before taking the stage in front of hundreds—thousands—of fans, and she’d felt his energy at times like that, but it was always wrapped up in more excitement than anything. This was something else entirely. Nervous? Rather novel, wasn’t it . . .?


As she reached his side, Evan turned to take her hand from Jack, but he stopped the groom when he covered Valerie’s hand in one of his again, and when Jack’s gaze shifted to meet Evan’s, he was entirely serious. “I’ve made her cry enough to last a lifetime,” he said quietly, just loud enough for Evan to hear. “You make her laugh, son, got it?”


Evan blinked and nodded, his eyes suspiciously bright as he stared Jack in the eye. “Yes, sir,” he replied just as solemnly.


Jack eyed him for another long moment, then finally broke into the smallest of smiles. “I’ll hold you to that,” he promised, taking Valerie’s hand, gently placing it in Evan’s.


“So will I,” Evan vowed as his gaze finally shifted to meet Valerie’s. “So will I.”



<<< 224: Thwarted



Just a reminder: Purity 11 and 12 preliminary chapters are available to read in the Spoiler Room forum on the forum (Kind of redundant, isn’t it?

Also, I am trying out a new fanfiction archive since Mediaminer seems to be dying a slow and very painful death. I’m trying to catch up in uploading the Purity continuations there (currently working on uploading Justification there). Chronicles and Metamorphosis are already available there, AND you can load the whole story to download in your choice of formats, too, which is really nice. So please do feel free to check it out!

All My Lifeby K-ci and JoJo originally appeared on the 1997 release, Love Always. Copyrighted to Joel Hailey and Rory Bennett.

== == == == == == == == == ==




jrharry ——— OROsan0677 ——— cutechick18 ——— mariea ——— sutlesarcasm ——— diyuu24 ——— krislee ——— friskypixie ——— lianned88


Final Thought from Evan:

Let’s get this show on the road!


Blanket disclaimer for this fanfic (will apply to this and all other chapters in Subterfuge): I do not claim any rights to InuYasha or the characters associated with the anime/manga. Those rights belong to Rumiko Takahashi, et al. I do offer my thanks to her for creating such vivid characters for me to terrorize.


posted by Sueric at 5:15 pm  

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

P9: 224: Thwarted

~~Chapter Two Hundred Twenty-Four~~



Honey, you’re my lucky day

Baby, you’re my lucky day

Well, I lost all the other bets I made

Honey, you’re my lucky day…’

-‘My Lucky Day’ by Bruce Springsteen.




Evan stalked around the room with a scowl on his face as Valerie’s words ran through his head for the thousandth time since he’d been so unceremoniously dragged away from her a little while ago.


Besides, I know you’re a very sensitive, very sweet man deep down, even if your family tried their hardest to convince me otherwise last night.”


‘What the hell?‘ he fumed, stomping over to the window and shoving it wide open. Not even the sudden soft breeze was enough to dispel the irritation that clung to him in thick waves. Just what the hell were they trying to do? Sabotage his wedding as some kind of warped repayment for his negative behavior over the years? And why the hell didn’t it really surprise him, either . . .?


No, maybe he ought to have realized that they’d do something like this. After he’d talked to Cain, after he had made peace with the things he hadn’t understood, he’d thought that maybe . . . but no, he was wrong. What other reason would they possibly have for doing such a thing, and to make it even worse, Bas had admitted that it wasn’t just him and Cain, oh no. All of them—all of them—had been in on it, too? His so-called family—the ones who were supposed to love him, no matter what, and in the end . . .


And, of course, Bas just hadn’t gotten it, had he? Nope, Bas had just laughed like it was all just one big fucking joke. Didn’t realize or just didn’t care how irritated Evan truly was over the entire thing. It was clear to Evan, what they were trying to do. They were trying to convince Valerie that she really didn’t want to marry Evan, weren’t they?


All right, so he’d be the first to admit that maybe he’d gotten into a hell of a lot more than his fair share of trouble over the years, and yeah, he’d allow that he was much farther from being a saint than anyone. Still . . .


Here he was, hours from his own wedding—a wedding he hadn’t truly believed would really happen until he’d gotten up this morning—and all he could think about was his own family was trying to sabotage it all. Bad enough that he’d been too worried to credit as he’d watched from an upstairs window as Valerie had approached that damned Murvis. He’d secretly hoped that the little prick would have enough grace not to accept the wedding invitation Evan had sent, but no, of course not, and while common sense had told Evan that there was just no way that Valerie would change her mind and run right back to the little douche bag, common sense held very little sway in his mind, today of all days.


And he knew that was stupid, that Valerie had obviously made her choice. Still, somewhere in the back of his mind, Evan couldn’t help but worry, and maybe that was natural, too. After all, she had almost married him, hadn’t she? It occurred to him in a rather vague kind of way that his insecurity about Valerie’s ex was entirely ridiculous, all things considered. Too bad he wasn’t sure he could help it, either.


The last thing he’d wanted to do was to send that peckerhead an invitation to their wedding, and yet, he knew, didn’t he, because he knew Valerie, that there was still a small part of her that had hated the way things had played out. Because she was a decent person, because she really did care for Merriwinkle, as much as Evan despised that, he hadn’t had a choice, not really. He’d done it for her, and all the while, he had prayed that the scientist would just have the decency not to come.


So maybe it was his already turbulent emotions that were spiraling out of control, but the more he considered the idea that his family had reveled in laying out Evan’s entire life of bad choices, the angrier he grew, and the angrier he grew, the more he considered it all—a vicious circle, maybe, but one that he was helpless to circumvent.




Evan swung around as Madison let herself into the room. Smiling gently as she wandered toward him, she was the epitome of calm, and, while Evan could usually draw off that sense of tranquility, at the moment, he simply could not. “Hardly,” he grumbled, pivoting to glare out the window once more. “Damn . . .”


“What’s the matter?” she asked, crossing the floor in a whisper of movement. She hadn’t changed into her maid of honor dress, but that wasn’t entirely surprising. She was probably in between tasks of arranging the women’s hair for the big event to come.


“Dunno what you mean,” he muttered.


He didn’t have to see her face to know that she’d probably just rolled her eyes. “I mean, you don’t seem like a guy who’s about to marry the woman of his wet dreams. So, what’s up?”


Evan snorted indelicately. “Were you in on it, too?”


“In on what?”


Flicking a hand in a blatantly dismissive gesture, Evan didn’t entirely trust himself to give voice to his grievance.


Madison sighed and stepped up beside him, and he could feel her questioning gaze, even if he didn’t bother to look directly at her. “I don’t think I was in on anything in particular,” Madison said, carefully measuring her words. “What happened?”


Evan grunted, gave a curt shrug. “Guess the powers-that-be decided to sit V down and tell her every bad thing I’ve ever done,” he replied. “Trying to talk her out of marrying me or something.”


Snapping her mouth closed, Madison slowly shook her head. “No . . . That can’t be. What in the world would be the point in that? Don’t you think—?”


“No, actually, that’s exactly what I do think,” he cut in quietly, his words no less stinging because of the soft timbre of his tone. “Damn it! How fucking low is that, anyway?” he fumed, breaking into a prowling gait as he stomped away, only to return again. “I guess I should have known, right? Always the screw-up, no matter what, right? Bullshit!


“Oh, Evan, I’m sure that’s not what they were trying to do,” Madison insisted gently. “Don’t let this ruin your big day, okay? You and Valerie are meant to be, and nothing anyone ever says is going to change that.”


Evan snorted again.


Madison sighed. “You’re listening to me, aren’t you? Because I make it a point never to sound like a Hallmark channel movie of the week if I can possibly help it.”


“Oh, Madison! There you are!” Kagome interrupted as she leaned in around the door. “Sorry to interrupt, but Kaci Lea’s ready for her hair.”


Madison nodded, but cast Evan a questioning look before moving. “Are you going to be all right?”


Forcing a smile that he was far from feeling, Evan shrugged noncommittally. “Yep. Better go. Sounds like they need you.”


She didn’t look convinced, but she shot him a little smile and hurriedly kissed his cheek. “I’ll be back to check on you, but don’t you think you should start getting ready, too?”


“Get on out of here,” he replied, jerking his head toward the door. Madison heaved a sigh, but she finally left, pausing just outside the door, she shot Evan an encouraging smile before hurrying away.


“How are you holding up?” Kagome asked, quietly closing the door behind her.


“Me? You kidding? I play sold out stadiums for a living, remember?” He snorted, hoping that Kagome couldn’t see through his bravado. “This ain’t nothing,” he scoffed.


Kagome laughed as she strode over to the opened garment bag hanging on the rack nearby and carefully pulled the pristine white shirt off the padded hanger. “It seems like only yesterday that you were that little, tiny baby that was just happy to be held and cuddled,” she ventured.


Tugging off the tee-shirt he’d dragged on this morning, Evan dropped it on the floor and held out his hand. “That was a long time ago, baa-chan,” he pointed out with a wry grin.


Kagome held out the shirt and adjusted it over his shoulders before stepping around him to fuss with it more, straightening it perfectly. “Not so very long ago; not to me,” she went on, her fingers deftly working the buttons, her eyes trained carefully on what she was doing. Her eyes were bright, and he could smell the hint of tears that she stubbornly held in check despite the gentle smile on her lips.


“You’re not really going to cry, are you?” he teased, lifting an eyebrow to emphasize the question.


She sniffled then laughed. “I can’t help it,” she replied. “I always cry at weddings.” Taking a step back to examine her work, her smile widened as the smell of tears spiked though they did not fall. “I just wanted a moment to tell you how beautiful Valerie is, and I think you and she make a wonderful couple, Evan.”


“Thanks,” he muttered, drawing her into a hug before she could discern the irritation he couldn’t quite shake.


“I’d better go get changed, too,” she said, giving him a reassuring squeeze. “Besides, InuYasha is probably about to start hollering, anyway. He’s been to enough weddings, so you’d think that he’d remember how to tie his own tie, wouldn’t you?”


The smile that Evan managed was a little closer to normal as Kagome hurried out of the room again. Given that InuYasha wasn’t a big fan of tuxedos in general, Evan figured that Kagome was quite right in her estimation.


Letting out a deep breath, Evan shook his head. A thousand memories ran through his head as he strode over to change his pants. Okay, sure, he would admit that the family likely did have more than enough stories to keep themselves busy for a good, long while in discussing everything bad that Evan had ever done, but . . . It still burned him that they’d done such a thing. Telling Valerie all those stories? Just what the hell had they been trying to accomplish, anyway?


“Everything going okay?” Cain asked as he stepped into the room. Already dressed and ready to go, he stuffed a hand deep into his pocket.


Evan shot him a glance as he tucked in the shirt. “Never better, Cain,” he replied tightly, unable to keep the snide edge out of his tone.


“Are you sure?” Cain pressed, a concerned frown surfacing on his features.


“Sure. Why wouldn’t it be?” Evan countered. “You finished trying to sabotage my wedding, or did you think of a few more things you could tell V to convince her not to marry me?”


Cain blinked in surprise and slowly shook his head. “What? What do you mean?”


Evan snorted, yanking the tie off the hanger and jerking it over his head. “Come off it! V told me all about it. Bubby and you just had to do it, right? Make me out to be such an ass that, sure, who in their right fucking mind would marry me? Thanks, Dad. Thanks a lot.”


The surprise in Cain’s expression slowly faded, only to be replaced by a distinctly uncomfortable shifting in his youki. “That really wasn’t what—” he began, only to be cut off by Evan’s loud snort.


“Save it,” he growled, grimacing when the tie in his hands ripped. He hadn’t realized that he was yanking on it so hard, and with a heavy sigh full of self-disgust, he threw the pieces onto the floor. “Goddamn, you know, just because you and Bubby are so fucking perfect doesn’t give you the right to try to ruin things for me.”


Reaching up, tugging at his own bowtie, Cain carefully pulled it loose and held it out to Evan. “That’s not what we were trying to do, Evan, and I’m sorry if you thought we were,” he said as Evan eyed the tie for a moment before snatching it away from his father.


“Yeah, well, don’t fucking worry about it. The last thing I’ll do is embarrass you two in front of everyone,” Evan snapped back.


Cain frowned. “Evan, you’ve never—”


“Forget it,” Evan snarled. “Just go the hell away . . . I promise I’ll be as respectable as you and Bubby today.”


Cain sighed. “You’re always respectable,” he said. Then he turned to go. “You and Valerie . . . I hope that you’re as happy together as your mother and I are.”


Evan watched in the mirror hanging over the dresser as his father left the room. Gaze shifting to his own reflection, he ground his teeth together, fought for a semblance of control over the emotions that threatened to overwhelm him, to no avail. The anger, the bitterness, frothed and roiled even hotter. “Respectable,” he growled, opening and closing his fists around nothing. “Respectable . . .?”


Without a second thought, he grabbed a pair of scissors that were lying on the dresser, and, grasping his hair in the other hand, he lopped the length of it off in one deft snip.






“Here you go.”


Giving Gin a quick smile, Valerie gratefully accepted the delicate mug of tea, careful not to pull too far as Madison meticulously arranged the pile of curls atop her head.


“You look so beautiful,” Gin said, blinking rapidly as a haze of tears washed into her vision. She wasn’t sure why it was that weddings always made her cry. Maybe it was just the memories of her own special day years ago. Cain, she was sure, would tease her about her sentimentality. She simply couldn’t help it, though. There were so many thoughts, running through her mind, and maybe that was natural, too. Visions of Evan through the years: bringing her flowers that he’d picked just for her . . . coming to her with tears in his eyes after Bas had taken off with his friend, leaving Evan behind . . . telling her about his exploits—sneaking out to see local bands in the clubs that he was too young to frequent—telling her stories that he probably shouldn’t have told her, and she hadn’t had the heart to curb her wild-child . . . Those bittersweet moments that were frozen forever in her mind, those years that seemed like mere moments when Gin was the one who Evan loved best . . . Growing up, building a life for himself, becoming a man who could stand on his own . . . All those things were things that Gin cherished, even if the smallest part of her still missed that baby she’d carried over the threshold so many years ago. It was right that he would find someone who would take Gin’s place as the center of Evan’s world, but, staring at the bride as she nervously bit her lip, Gin figured that it was all right, too. Not just any woman would do: not for her boy. She’d felt the same way, back when Bas had gotten married, too. Neither Sydnie nor Valerie was ‘just any woman’, after all . . . Her sons’ mates . . . They’d chosen well.


Gazing at Valerie, Gin couldn’t help but smile. She really was just gorgeous—not that she expected any less for her boys, of course. Bas’ wife, Sydnie, and now Valerie? Both of them had that inner sparkle—the kind of light that shone from the inside out—beautiful spirits that created that incandescence . . .


“As long as Evan agrees,” Valerie ventured with a wry little smile as she turned her head from side to side, examining Madison’s handiwork with a critical eye.


“Agrees?” Rhonda echoed with a quiet laugh and a shake of her head. “That man is absolutely crazy about you. I don’t think it much matters, what you wear today as long as you meet him at two o’clock.”


“Thanks, Mom.” Valerie shot her mother a decidedly nervous little smile, then shifted to face Madison once more. “Maddy, do you think you could go check in with Evan?” she asked. “He’s probably driving whoever’s with him crazy, don’t you think?”


Madison laughed and gathered her bag. “Sure,” she said. “I might as well check in on the guys, anyway. Make sure they’re all up to snuff.”


Kaci Lea stepped quickly into the room, her eyes bright, glowing, as she smiled a little shyly. “Did you have a nice look around, Kaci?” Rhonda asked, raising an eyebrow as she fussed with Valerie’s bouquet.


The girl laughed, her eyes brightening even more as a slight blush rose to her cheeks. “Y-Yeah,” she admitted, ducking her head before giving a tiny shrug. “I was talking to Evan’s cousin, Mikio.”


“Oh? What about?”


“Just stuff . . . He told me about Japanese schools. It’s a lot different from here,” Kaci Lea remarked almost absently as she straightened her dress.


“Mikio . . . Mikio . . .” Rhonda repeated, obviously trying to place the name with the face. It wasn’t surprising, given that so many guests had arrived within the last few days.


“He’s my brother,” Gin supplied, idly rubbing her distended belly.


“Oh!” Rhonda exclaimed, the confusion on her face disintegrating fast. “Oh, he’s just a cutie!”


Kagome laughed as she stepped out of the bathroom, casually messing with one diamond earring. “He’s always been a lot sweeter than his older brothers,” she allowed.


“That’s putting it mildly, Mama,” Gin remarked, wrinkling her nose since she knew quite well, just how rotten her twin brothers really could be.


“You know Kaci Lea-chan, you could always come stay with us for a year, like a student exchange,” Kagome offered.


Kaci Lea looked completely taken aback by Kagome’s offer. “Oh, I . . . I mean, thank you, but . . .”


Kagome laughed and reached over to give Kaci Lea’s arm a reassuring squeeze. “Just think about it. The offer stands. If you change your mind, just let Evan know, and we’ll work something out.”


Kaci Lea didn’t look like she knew just what to think of it, but she nodded slowly.


“Wench! Where the hell did you put my shoes?” InuYasha hollered from the closed side of the door.


Rolling her eyes, Kagome giggled and hurried across the room.




“I’m coming, InuYasha!” she called back as she reached for the doorknob. “Excuse me, ladies.”


Gin caught Valerie’s sidelong gaze, and they both broke out in laughter. “Some things never change,” Gin mused.


Valerie stood up slowly, staring at her reflection in the antique mirror nearby.


“My son made an excellent choice,” Gin mused, stepping over to straighten the veil. It wasn’t quite time to put it on, but it would be soon enough. “I can’t imagine anyone who would be more perfect for him than you are, Valerie, and I’m so happy that you’re about to be a part of our family!”


Blinking at Gin’s softly uttered statement, Valerie blushed as her smile widened. “Thank you,” she replied, her eyes brightening even more.


Gin opened her mouth to reply, but snapped it closed when Madison burst into the room with the oddest expression on her face. She looked like she had something to say, and maybe she didn’t really want to say it, at all, but her gaze flickered to Valerie, and she grimaced. “Uh, V,” she began in a halting tone, like she were attempting to soften whatever she was trying to get out, “umm . . .”


Valerie’s eyes flared wide as her smile faded. Turning to face Madison, she shook her head. “What? What’s going on?” she demanded. “Is everything all right?”


“Well, that’s kind of subjective, really . . .” Madison winced again, twisting her hands together in a decidedly nervous kind of way. “I-It’s Evan,” she hedged, still trying to decide the best way to break whatever it was to the bride. “He got a little . . . Well, he lost his temper, and . . .”


“Maddy . . .” Valerie began in a warning tone.


Heaving a sigh, Madison shook her head. “He kind of . . . cut off his . . . hair . . .”


Valerie stood stock still, unblinking as she stared at Madison, trying to make up her mind whether or not she believed her. “. . . What . . .?”


Biting her lip, Madison gave a helpless little shrug. “He thought that Cain and Bas were trying to sabotage the wedding,” she explained quickly. “That whole thing last night, right? Anyway, I guess he got into it with Cain, and so Evan thought he’d be more respectable if he . . . cut . . . his . . . ha-a-air . . .”


What?” Valerie hissed, grabbing her skirts as she stomped toward the door.


Rhonda caught her arm and held her back. “Val, now you have to finish getting ready,” she reminded her calmly. “He’s okay . . .” Her gaze shifted to Madison. “. . . Isn’t he?”


Madison shot Valerie a tentative smile. “I fixed it,” she assured her. “He looks very nice; I promise.”


Valerie stared at Madison for several moments before letting her dress drop as she helplessly sank down on the stool once more. “Oh, my God,” she half-groaned. “But I love his hair the way it normally is!”


Gin shook her head, unsure as to what, exactly, Cain and Bas had apparently done. “What did those two do?” she asked, slowly, almost hesitantly.   Then again, she, along with most of the women, had been kept quite busy in the kitchen, starting on things for the huge buffet they’d had this morning, so whatever they were discussing must’ve happened then . . .


Valerie sighed, rubbing her forehead in a completely exasperated kind of way. Gin could sense her very real upset, and she couldn’t stop the flattening of her ears, either. After all, a woman’s wedding day should be as perfect as it could possibly be, and getting news like this less than two hours before walking down the aisle? She winced.


“Last night, Cain and Bas—well, not just them, but they started it—sat me down and told me all these stories about Evan,” Valerie admitted. “But I don’t understand. I mean, they seemed to be more amused by it all than anything. I got the impression that they were just looking for a reason to relive those things . . .” She frowned and slowly shook her head. “In fact, they seemed almost . . . proud . . .”


Gin snapped her mouth closed and made a face. That might have been exactly what they were doing, she figured. After all, how often in the past had Cain broken into the vaguest smile over one of Evan’s antics or another, though always behind the closed door of their private room? To be honest, Gin didn’t doubt Valerie’s impression in the least, no, but still, did it matter if that’s not how Evan saw it? And the damage was already done, as far as Evan’s hair was concerned. There was nothing short of time that could rectify that, and nothing outside of a miracle that would fix it before two o’clock, either.


With a determined look on her face, Gin hurried over to the door as quickly as she could move—not exactly fast, really, given the extra weight she was carrying. Grasping Madison’s arm, she didn’t explain as she dragged her along behind.


“Gin? What—?”


Gin scowled, but didn’t falter as she headed out the door and down the hallway toward the stairs. “If my Evan cut all his hair off because of his father and brother, then it’s only fair, isn’t it?”


Madison blinked. “Fair?” she echoed, not quite grasping exactly what Gin was alluding do in her muttered statement.


With a very pronounced snort—an entirely odd sound coming from her—she gripped the banister in one hand and, keeping her hold on Madison’s arm with the other, she kept moving forward with a purpose.


Cain and Bas were both in the office, she could tell, and she didn’t stop until she stood in the doorway, pinning each man with a formidable glower that stopped them both, dead in their tracks, their voices dying away as they stared back at her. She didn’t miss the worried little glances they flicked at one another, and she wasn’t entirely surprised when her mate’s gaze lit up with the old traces of worry that always accompanied her pregnancies.


“Bald,” she stated flatly, pointing from Cain to Bas then back again.


Madison choked, her sharp inhalation fairly whistling in the unnatural silence. “B-B-Bald?”


Gin nodded just once, determination igniting behind her gaze. “That’s right,” she reiterated as she crossed her arms over her chest stubbornly, still refusing to back down from her current stance. Then she jerked her head at the men once more before she stated once more, her voice even, controlled—angry, “You heard me, Madison. Bald.”



 <<< 223: The Waiting Game

 225: One Summer Day >>>



My Lucky Dayby Bruce Springsteen originally appeared on the 2009 release, Working on a Dream. Copyrighted to Bruce Springsteen.

== == == == == == == == == ==




cutechick18 ——— gin-hayashi85 ——— mariea ——— OROsan0677 ——— Kats ——— Thayet ——— Celebrian ———


Final Thought from Madison:

Bald …?


Blanket disclaimer for this fanfic (will apply to this and all other chapters in Subterfuge): I do not claim any rights to InuYasha or the characters associated with the anime/manga. Those rights belong to Rumiko Takahashi, et al. I do offer my thanks to her for creating such vivid characters for me to terrorize.


posted by Sueric at 4:08 pm  

Saturday, May 24, 2014

P9: 223: The Waiting Game

~~Chapter Two Hundred Twenty-Three~~

~The Waiting Game~


You are the only one

I’ve ever known

That makes me feel this way

Girl, you are my own …’

-‘I’ll be Waiting‘ by Lenny Kravitz.




Eyes flashing open as the crush of a very large body fell on her moments before the hand smashed down to cover her lips, Valerie uttered a strangled scream, even as the realization of who, exactly, was doing the crushing sank in.


“Shh!” Evan insisted, lifting his hand to give her a quick kiss her instead. “If they find me in here, I’ll catch seven kinds of hell.”


Laughing softly as she leaned up far enough to kiss him in kind, Valerie smiled. “Where’s my coffee, Roka?”


He chuckled and rolled to the side, extending his hand behind himself to retrieve the steaming mug of coffee he’d brought with him. “Do you have any idea how hard it is to climb up to your balcony without spilling a damn drop?” he complained, careful to keep his voice just above a whisper.


“Why didn’t you just use the door?”


He snorted. “Because Bubby’s guarding the stairway, that’s why. Talk about monumental cockblocks . . .”


Valerie laughed again. “You know,” she said, her voice muffled by the coffee mug, “it’s bad luck for you to see me before the wedding.”


Evan shot her a droll glance. “Are you telling me you believe those old wives’ tales?”


Handing him the empty mug before slipping her arms around him, she shook her head. “Not really,” she said. “So did you give in and stay with Gunnar all night?”


“That bastard did me dirty,” Evan confessed with a snort. “Caught me trying to sneak out around one, so he called Kurt over to lock me in with ofuda.”




Evan made a face. “Yeah . . . paper charms that he uses to create barriers that youkai can’t pass through without taking some serious damage.”


“I didn’t know that was even possible.”


He shrugged. “Oh, it is. They use them in handcuffs and stuff so youkai can’t just break them. Anyway, damned if Drevin wasn’t grinning the whole time, too, little bastard . . .”


“Well,” she said, snuggling a little closer to him—or as close as the curlers she still wore in her hair would allow, “it doesn’t look like it hurt you or anything.” She sighed as a secretive little smile tugged on the corners of her lips. “So . . . what are the odds that you brought more coffee up here with you?”


Evan sighed, poking a claw at the curlers as a little smile quirked his lips. “Have a heart, V. It was hard enough to get away from everyone, to start with! Getting away with a full pot of Joe?” He shook his head. “I am many things, baby, but I am not a miracle worker.”


“It’s my wedding day, Roka,” she reminded him, closing her eyes for a long moment. “Thought you said this whole ‘mates’ thing meant that you’d do anything to make me happy?”


He laughed. “Well, I could venture down there,” he allowed. “Of course, there’s a good chance that they won’t let me bring back your coffee. I’m sure Mama would, though, come to think of it . . .”


“What time is it?”


Leaning up and craning his neck to glance at the clock that had gotten turned on the nightstand, Evan flopped back as he tightened his arms around Valerie. “Nine,” he told her, his voice muffled as he kissed the top of her head.


She heaved a long sigh. “Hmm, I guess I should get up, then,” she mused though she made no move to do so. “I imagine my parents are already down there?”


“Mmm,” Evan intoned, savoring the feel of her beside him, of the quiet and peaceful serenity that enveloped the room. “Mama laid out a huge breakfast buffet down there. They were all talking and stuff, and I swear to God, your father couldn’t keep his eyes off Mama . . . I think ol’ Jack has a thing for her . . .”


Valerie rolled her eyes but laughed. “As long as your father doesn’t take offense to it.”


“Cain’s completely oblivious,” he scoffed just before he leaned in to nuzzle her neck. “Anyway, what do you think? Got enough time for some lovin’ before they discover us?”


Closing her eyes for a moment, Valerie breathed out a long, wistful sigh as she turned her face to intercept Evan’s lips. Shifting his body, he couldn’t ignore the lick of fire that sparked to life at her easy acquiescence. The banked heat, the searing swell of emotion surged through him, uncontrollable and free. Her lips fluttered under his, accepting his passion as hers spiraled higher.


His fingers slid over the thin cotton of her tee-shirt, creating a teasing caress. Remind himself that he really didn’t have the time to press his luck, he uttered a soft little sigh against her lips as her arms snaked around his neck, her fingers sinking into his hair, her body rising up to meld against his.


The soft click of the door registered vaguely in his head, but it seemed to have come from so far away, almost more of an afterthought or a vague memory—at least, until someone cleared their throat in a completely grating and wholly obnoxious kind of way.


“Evan Roka Zelig! You’re not supposed to be in here!”


Pulling away from Valerie with a very longsuffering sigh, Evan managed a wan grin as he turned his head to meet his mother’s disapproving gaze. Standing just inside the doorway with a hand on her hip and a rather chagrined frown on her face, Gin shook her head and waved her free hand impatiently. “You get out of here!” she insisted. “You shouldn’t see the bride before the wedding!”


Rolling his eyes, Evan shot Valerie an entirely unapologetic look as he swung his legs off the bed. “What’d I tell you, V?” he teased. “Guess this is it until two o’clock.”


Valerie laughed and sat up on her elbow, tilting her face to meet him when he paused long enough to give her a quick kiss. “You’d better not try to run away,” she warned him.


Evan’s grin widened. “As if! Love you, V,” he called over his shoulder as he slipped past his mother and out of the door.


Gin watched him go with a slow shake of her head then finally turned to face Valerie once more. “You’ve got a visitor,” she said as she hurried across the floor to draw open the drapes that covered the sliding glass doors that led to the balcony. “I can’t believe it’s your wedding day! My baby boy’s getting married . . .”


“Who’s that?” Valerie asked about the mysterious visitor, pushing herself up and reaching for the robe lying over the end of the bed.


Gin giggled. “Oh! Sorry! It’s your friend, Marvin.”


Valerie froze as a thoughtful scowl surfaced. “Marvin?” she echoed. “Oh . . .”


Gin paused and looked at Valerie, her ebullience waning slowly. “If you’d rather not talk to him, I could tell him that you’re busy getting ready for the wedding,” she offered.


Blinking quickly, Valerie glanced at Gin and forced a wan smile as she stumbled out of bed and toward the closet where she’d stashed a couple changes of clothes. “It’s fine,” she assured her soon-to-be mother-in-law. “Where is he?”


“He said he’d rather wait outside,” Gin replied, stepping over to the bed to straighten the blankets. “Is everything all right?”


“What? Oh, yes,” she said, pulling a simple dress out of the closet.


It didn’t take her long to get dressed, and she didn’t bother with her hair or anything, considering Madison would have a fit if she took her hair out of the curlers before she was ready to fix it for the wedding. Still, Valerie’s stomach felt as though it was flopping over and over as she headed out of the room. She wasn’t entirely sure what Marvin wanted, but she couldn’t help the anxiety that loomed over her, either.


Why was he there? What could he possibly want to say to her?


Biting her lip as she hurried down the stair and toward the front door, she stifled a sigh.


The morning was fresh and beautiful, and Valerie shielded her eyes against the beams of sunlight, caught in the morning dew that coated the lush grass. Marvin stood near his rental car, his expression inscrutable, hands dug deep into his pockets as he reluctantly raised his eyes to meet hers.


Taking a moment to gather her thoughts, Valerie slowly descended the porch steps. “Hi,” she said, hoping that her reluctance didn’t come through in her greeting.


Marvin managed a fleeting, uncertain smile. “You, uh . . . You look nice,” he said with a helpless kind of shrug.


“You look good,” she replied, wrapping her arms over her stomach as she drew abreast of him and stopped. It was a slight stretch, only because of the rumpled state of his clothing, the untidy way his hair stuck out here and there. Still, he was the same endearing Marvin that she’d met at college so long ago. He’d driven all night, hadn’t he . . .? Just to talk to her . . .


“Thanks,” Marvin replied. “Do you, um . . . I-I mean, would you . . .?” Trailing off rather helplessly, he grimaced. “Do you have time to talk?” He sighed. “I mean, I know today’s your wedding day,” he muttered. “If you don’t, that’s okay . . .”


“Do you want to go for a walk?” she heard herself asking. Something about Marvin’s demeanor . . .


He seemed surprised by her offer, and he quickly nodded. “If you have time,” he reiterated.


He followed behind as Valerie led him around the mansion, down toward the path that led to the beach. “I’m glad you’re here,” she ventured at length. “I . . . I wanted to tell you how sorry I am.”


Shaking his head quickly, Marvin stopped, leaning back against the stair railing as he dug his hands a little deeper into his pockets, scrunching up his shoulders as he stared down at his feet. “No, don’t apologize, Val. I mean, it really wasn’t your fault, and . . . and I never should have said those things to you . . .”


“You had every right to be upset,” Valerie insisted softly. “I never . . . I never meant to hurt you.” She sighed and rubbed her forehead, wishing that she didn’t sound so damned perfunctory because she meant it. She could only hope that he knew that. “That sounds so lame, but honestly, I—”


“You’re really happy with him?” Marvin interrupted, finally lifting his gaze to meet hers.


“I am,” Valerie admitted. She wanted to tell him that she hoped he’d find the same thing, too—the absolute love, the breathtaking affection that she’d found with Evan—but she winced inwardly, staunching the words before she uttered them. How ridiculous would that sound coming from her? How silly and trite . . .


He nodded, saying nothing, as though he needed a moment to absorb her statement. Turning on his heel, he slowly made his way down the rest of the steps, wandering almost aimlessly toward the rolling tide.


She followed along behind him, wishing that she could say the things she was thinking, wishing that he’d understand the things that she simply couldn’t bring herself to say—things like she thought that he was a good man, that she didn’t regret the time she’d spent with him, that she hoped he’d find true happiness, just as she had—but all those things sounded so very condescending, even in her head, and in the end, she said nothing.


“I . . . I want the best for you,” Marvin said in a tone that left Valerie wondering if he really was speaking to her at all. Staring out over the ocean, he seemed so very far away. “That’s really all I came here to say. That, and I hope that he . . . he knows how lucky he is.”


“Marvin,” Valerie replied, blinking fast to stave back the wash of tears that sprang to haze over her vision. She did love him, didn’t she, even if she hadn’t ever truly been in love with him. “You . . . You’re such a brilliant man . . . but . . . but I didn’t want to be unfair to you—or to me. I know you deserved so much better, and I know how—how—how stupid that sounds, coming from me,” she said. “I never, ever meant to hurt you. I hope you know that.”


He sighed and slowly turned to face her, and the smile on his lips was reluctant, even nervous, but it was genuine. “It’s okay, Val,” he told her. Then he choked out a little laugh. “Well, it’ll be okay,” he amended. “I just . . . I can’t hate you, not when I . . . I made mistakes, too. Do you suppose we could, uh . . .?” He let out a deep breath, as though he wasn’t entirely sure how she’d react to his question,. “Do you think . . . we could be friends? Did I . . .? Did I ruin that?”


Valerie smiled. “I’ll always be your friend, Marvin, if you’ll let me . . . and I’ll be your biggest supporter for your research, too. You’ll do it; I know you will.”


His smile widened just a little. “Don’t let Evan Zelig forget how special you are,” he said, drawing a deep, almost cleansing breath. “Bet you’ll be beautiful today.” This time, his laughter sounded much more normal. “Well, not that you’re not beautiful every day . . .”


Valerie laughed, shaking her head, flicking a hand dismissively. “You know, if you want, you’re welcome to stay . . .”


Shaking his head quickly, Marvin couldn’t hide the blush that rose in his cheeks. “Oh, I can’t,” he replied. “I just, you know, wanted to tell you how sorry I am for . . . for those things I said.”


“Don’t apologize anymore,” she insisted. “It’s okay.”


He stared at her for several long moments, then he finally nodded. “Oh, uh, I should get going. I mean, your wedding starts in a few hours, right? Shouldn’t you be inside, getting ready?”


She didn’t say anything more as the two headed back toward the stairs. This time, however, the silence wasn’t nearly as unkind as it was on the initial trek. Still stilted and vaguely uncomfortable, certainly, but the sense of trepidation had dissipated, and for that, Valerie was grateful.


The sounds of the crew that was hired to set up for the wedding was muffled. True that most of it was done yesterday, but the last minute preparations were still going strong. Marvin glanced over at it in passing, but said nothing about it. He said nothing at all until they were standing in the driveway once more.


“Thanks for taking the time to talk to me,” Marvin said, his nervous smile back in place once more.


“I wish you’d have come yesterday,” Valerie admitted. “I would have had more time to talk.”


Marvin shook his head. “Oh, uh . . . I . . . I didn’t realize until last night that I wanted to come. But I sat there, staring at your wedding invitation, and I . . . Well, I didn’t want you to get married with telling you how sorry I am.”


For a moment, it surprised her that Marvin had received an invitation. That surprise didn’t last. Evan . . . He had done it, hadn’t he? She wasn’t sure what the reason behind it was. After all, it would be easy to think that he’d done it just to rub Marvin’s nose in it, but she knew him better than that. No, the only reason Evan would have done such a thing was because, somewhere in his heart, he knew that Valerie wanted to have a moment to say the things she hadn’t gotten to say on that awful night by the pool. That was the Evan that she knew: the Evan she was going to marry. “I am glad you came,” she said, hurriedly giving Marvin a kiss on the cheek.


Marvin laughed softly. It was a warm, genuine sound. “I’m glad I did, too,” he confessed. For a moment, he seemed undecided. Then he hurriedly, clumsily, kissed her cheek. “I’ll . . . I’ll see you, Valerie. Take care.”


She nodded as she stepped back, as she watched him stride around the car. She waved as he pulled out of the driveway, and she didn’t turn back to the mansion until the car was out of sight once more.


“So . . . did you two clear the air?”


Valerie turned around, coming face to face with her future husband. “You invited him?” she asked, arching an eyebrow as she broke into a little smile.


Evan sighed. “Well, of course! Had to rub his it in, now didn’t I?”


Valerie narrowed her eyes and slipped her arms around Evan’s waist. “That’s not why you did it, and you know it,” she replied. “Tell me the truth.”


He snorted as he folded her into his arms. “All right, all right,” he relented with a melodramatic sigh. “Did you tell him what you wanted to say?”


She nodded. “Thank you.”


“I don’t want you to have any regrets, V,” he said softly, kissing her forehead as he tightened his arms around her. “Even if I don’t like the little shit . . .”


“Don’t ruin the moment, Roka,” she warned. “Besides, I know you’re a very sensitive, very sweet man deep down, even if your family tried their hardest to convince me otherwise last night.”


Evan snorted. “What do you mean?”


She laughed. “Your father and brother thought they should warn me about your less-than-honorable past,” she said then shrugged. “You really were bad, weren’t you?”


“They did?”


She leaned up and kissed his chin before cuddling against his chest once more. Eyes closed, she missed the irritation that filtered into his countenance, the gathering storm clouds of his reaction to what she’d unwittingly implied. “They did, but it’s okay. I knew you were a troublemaker from the get-go.”


“All right, Evan,” Bas remarked as he loped down the porch steps. “Step away from the bride, and come with me.”


Evan gave Valerie another squeeze before finally letting his arms drop away. “I’ll see you in a few hours,” he told her, his expression shifting into an exaggerated pout.


She laughed as Bas planted a hand on Evan’s shoulders and propelled him toward the porch.


“Tell me something, Bubby . . . Just what the hell did you tell V about me?”


Bas shot him a droll glance. “Nothing but the truth, Evan,” Bas assured him.


“Right, right . . . You’re kind of an ass,” Evan pointed out. “How would you have liked it if I’d told Sydnie a bunch of shit about you the night before your wedding?”


Bas pushed him through the door before she could hear his reply, and Valerie laughed as she lifted her face heavenward. Absolutely gorgeous without a cloud in the sky . . .


The perfect day a her wedding, wasn’t it?


All that was left was the ceremony itself, and then she would be Mrs. Evan Zelig.


She couldn’t wait.



 <<< 222: Reticence

224: Thwarted >>>




I’ve redone the forum to allow more features and easier usage. In the new forum, I’ve posted the preliminary chapters for Purity 11 and 12 in the Spoiler Room forum for anyone interested in getting a sneak peek. You must register for the forum and make fifteen counted posts in order to gain access, but hopefully those who do find the chapters to be worth the hassle.

I’ll be Waitingby Lenny Kravitz originally appeared on the 2008 release, It’s Time for a Love Revolution. Copyrighted to Lenny Kravitz and Craig Ross.

== == == == == == == == == ==







OROsan0677 ——— cutechick18 ——— lianned88 ——— gin-hayashi85 ——— mariea


Final Thought from Evan:

… Is that right …?


Blanket disclaimer for this fanfic (will apply to this and all other chapters in Subterfuge): I do not claim any rights to InuYasha or the characters associated with the anime/manga. Those rights belong to Rumiko Takahashi, et al. I do offer my thanks to her for creating such vivid characters for me to terrorize.


posted by Sueric at 10:20 am  

Monday, May 19, 2014

P9: 222: Reticence

~~Chapter Two Hundred Twenty-Two~~



These four walls they could tell you some stories

About lyin’ and dyin’ and fame

There’s a price that you pay for the glory

About losing and choosing and pain …’

-‘The Hardest Part is the Night‘ by Bon Jovi.




“This way, please.”


Frowning at the uncharacteristic stiffness with which Bas led Valerie into Cain’s office, she said nothing as she slipped into one of the chairs across from the wide desk after Cain gestured to it. Closing the door behind himself, Bas moved off to stare out the windows behind his father, hand draped on his hip as he stared out into the darkness. Just after midnight, and she’d been ready to find her bed when the two had approached her and asked her to follow them. There was a strange sense of gravity about the entire affair, but she didn’t object.


Settling back in his chair, Cain didn’t speak right away, and in the quiet, Valerie’s trepidation grew.


She wasn’t entirely sure why Cain had asked to see her, and the formal setting seemed strained. As far as she knew, nothing unusual had happened—well, aside from Evan’s repeated attempts to breach her window, anyway, and if that were the problem, she was pretty sure that she wouldn’t be the one here in the office waiting for the proverbial gauntlet to fall.


Or maybe Cain had taken exception to the idea that Evan—twisted little monkey that he was—had showed up last night to take the place of the stripper that had been hired, which made for a rather interesting moment, given that most of the women in attendance at the bachelorette party were related to the miscreant, including his own darling mother—Cain’s wife . . . He’d even started to strip off the obnoxious bikini pouch that held his ‘family jewels’—the one with ‘The hEvan’ scrolled across it in lurid gold glittering paint. Valerie had managed to stop him, albeit barely. The man really didn’t possess even an ounce of shame.


Clearing his throat, Cain slouched lower in his chair, resting his elbows on the thickly padded armrests, steepling his fingers in front of his chest as he continued to stare at Valerie. “Would you like something to drink?” he finally asked, breaking the stony silence that had fallen.


“No, I’m fine,” she replied, brows drawing together as she shifted her gaze around the room. “What is this about . . .?”


“Sorry,” Cain remarked with a slight smile. “We’re actually waiting for Gavin.”


“For . . .?” she finally asked, her gaze shifting from Cain to Bas then back again.


Cain stared at her for several moments then finally smiled just a little. “Oh, it’s nothing bad—well, too bad, anyway.”


“Just thought you might want to know what you’re getting into,” Bas remarked without turning away from the window.


Flicking his wrist as he glanced down at his watch, Cain frowned. “Well, I suppose we might as well begin. After all, it’s been over twenty minutes since Evan last tried to break in.”


Bas uttered a pronounced snort. “Oh, yeah? Well, at least that little shit didn’t try to sabotage you,” he grumbled.


Pressing her lips together in a tight line, Valerie struggled not to laugh outright since she’d been told that Evan’s most recent attempt had involved catnip—only amusing when she was then informed of Bas’ mate, Sydnie’s remarkable affinity for the stuff.


“The only thing that works on your mother is Reese’s, and that wouldn’t accomplish what he tried to do to you,” Cain pointed out.


“You say that like it surprises you,” Bas pointed out with a shake of his head. “Twisted little monkey, anyway . . .”


Cain raised his eyebrows and gave a little shrug before turning his attention back to Valerie once more. “Anyway, Valerie, we . . . we thought that we should probably warn you about some of Evan’s more . . . colorful moments,” he explained. “Just so you know what you’re getting yourself into.”


Valerie’s lips twitched, though she managed to keep from smiling—barely. If she didn’t recognize the understated amusement evident in both Cain as well as Bas’ demeanors, she might have taken offense to it, all things considered, but for some reason, she had the feeling that they weren’t nearly as irritated over Evan’s apparent misdeeds as they might have wanted to appear. “Kind of late for that, isn’t it? The wedding’s tomorrow.”


“You still should hear it,” Bas insisted, finally turning away from the window as he crossed his arms over his chest and leaned against the glass. “I mean, he’s been a pain in my ass since the day he was born.”


“That bad?”


Bas nodded slowly but smiled just a little. “Well, he was kind of cute as a baby,” he admitted at length. “At least, until he started walking and talking . . .”


“Back then, he only used to repeat things,” Cain pointed out. “That wasn’t so bad.”


“Says you,” Morio retorted as he slipped into the study. “He was like one of those . . . those . . . Oh, those myna birds—and he repeated everything he heard.”


Cain slowly shook his head. “Oh, you mean like him telling your mother just what you and your cousins had planned to prank InuYasha? You should be glad he told her that. InuYasha would have beaten the crap out of you boys.”


Breaking into a wide grin, Morio chuckled. “It still would’ve been funny as hell.”


“I didn’t say it wouldn’t have been,” Cain allowed mildly.


Waving a hand, Morio flopped into the chair beside her, pausing long enough to cast Valerie what could only be described as a shit-eating grin. “Oh, hey, do you remember that time Evan decided to break into the city pool to go skinny dipping?”


“Why did he do that?” Valerie asked.


Cain shrugged. “Because he’d already been banned from the city pool for life for unhooking girls’ tops.”


Somehow, that just didn’t surprise Valerie at all.


Bas wrinkled his nose. “Damn, Dad . . . He wasn’t even ten at the time, was he?”


Again, Cain shrugged. “He might have just turned ten. Should have known back then that it wasn’t just a phase.”


Bas snorted. “I lost count of how many times he was booted out of school for screwing girls.”


“Or for just pulling pranks on his teachers,” Cain added with an exaggerated sigh.


“You mean, like the time he decided to moon the student assembly at the ‘Just Say No To Crack’ presentation?”


“Oh, I forgot about that one,” Gavin remarked as he pushed into the study with Toga following close behind. “Jilli told me about it. She thought it was funny as hell. Talk about irony . . .”


“He must get it from that baka because he sure as hell don’t get it from his mama,” InuYasha grumbled, jerking his head in Cain’s direction as he stalked into the office behind Toga and gave the younger man a shove to move him along.


Cain rolled his eyes and settled back a little further in his chair. “I beg your pardon. I’ve never mooned anyone in my life—though I seem to recall stories about Gin lifting her skirt in front of an entire audience before, so I would guess that would mean he did get it from your side, after all.”


InuYasha snorted. “Keh! She was a pup, you bastard. Think again.”


“Did you really just throw Mom under the bus?” Bas asked in a low tone as he shifted his gaze to his father.


“Of course not, Bas,” Cain replied. “I was pointing out fact; that’s all.”


“I remember having to hunt that little shit down when he’d disappear from training,” Ryomaru remarked as he strode into the office. “Got easier after we figured out that he was usually hiding out over at Kich’s house.”


“Never did take training seriously,” Toga said, moving over to grab a bottle of water off of the sideboard. “I don’t know how many times I’d hide the candy bags to track, only to find that he’d located them all and traded the candy for rocks.”


Valerie smiled since that sounded like something that Evan absolutely would do.


“Almost flunked out of school because he never took anything seriously, right?” Kichiro added as he stepped into the room. “Guess he did test out early, though, so that’s something.”


“Well, he did get his doctorate, so that’s something.” Cain scooted back and dug into one of the desk drawers then handed a paper over to Valerie.


She looked at it and frowned. It was a standardized testing sheet with little circles that were to be penciled in. It was Evan’s, but instead of bothering to answer the questions, he’d drawn what looked to be a symbol with the circles instead . . . “What’s this?”


“The logo of his favorite band, I think,” Bas said, nodding at the paper. “Raunchy Little Fuckers, wasn’t it?”


Cain heaved a sigh and slowly shook his head. “Something like that,” he agreed.


“These stories aren’t nearly as bad as I thought,” Valerie ventured, accepting a bottle of water from Kichiro. “I figured he’d have done much worse.”


“Oh, there’s worse,” Bas replied with a snort. “Paid, what? Three? Four hundred bucks for a picture of Sydnie . . . I still owe him a beating for that . . .”


“A bit more forgivable than being arrested for defacing that statue at the school,” Sesshoumaru said as he strode into the room to take a seat on the sofa.


“What did he do to it?” Valerie couldn’t help asking.


“Pissed on it, wasn’t it?” Morio said. “Him and that friend of his.”


“Dieter,” Cain supplied. “Those two . . .” He trailed off, tapping his claws against the armrest. “If it wasn’t Evan and Dieter getting into one thing or another, it was Evan and Madison, and if it wasn’t them, it was Evan and Bone . . .”


“Evan and Dieter also nearly blew up the school when they decided to make nabe for lunch in the science lab and left the burners on, but it was Evan and Bone who stole Rudy Miller’s boat,” Gavin mused thoughtfully. “Tried to haul themselves, four girls, and a keg of beer out to Faulkner’s Landing and ended up stranded out there when the boat sprung a leak halfway across the bay.”


To Valerie’s surprise, Cain broke out in the vaguest hint of a smile. “That took a lot of explaining,” he muttered though he didn’t look any less amused. “Those girls’ parents weren’t impressed; not at all . . .”


Bas snorted . “Small wonder. They had to call in the Coast Guard to retrieve them, Dad.”


“Or that year we had that drought so the four of them decided to host a naked rain dance,” Gavin added.


“That was your fault, Dad,” Bas pointed out. “I told you that Evan would do something stupid if you left him home alone.”


Cain chuckled. “Well, your mother wanted to go to San Francisco with me. Was I supposed to tell her that she needed to find someone to babysit her fifteen year-old son?”


“If that son’s Evan, then yes,” Kurt retorted as he ducked into the office, too. “He’s a menace.”


“Just because he handcuffed you to the bed that time,” Bas reminded him.


Kurt just snorted in reply.


“Can’t imagine that you enjoyed getting that call from the police, oji-san,” Morio quipped. “‘Yeah, uh, Mr. Zelig, we just broke up a naked rain dance party out at your estate . . .'”


Cain nodded slowly, his expression shifting into a thoughtful frown. “That . . . was pretty accurate, actually . . .”


Bas shot his father a droll look as he slowly shook his head again. “Yeah, did I ever thank you for telling them that I was the adult in charge?”


“Well, you were,” Cain pointed out reasonably.


“I was cramming for finals, and I don’t recall you even telling me that you were leaving me in charge of that little deviant,” Bas replied.


Cain broke into the vaguest grin and gave a little shrug, as though it excused his part in it entirely.


“You could write a book about the trouble he and Madison got into over the years,” Kichiro remarked thoughtfully. “I mean, you know it’s bad when we heard about all of it over in Japan.”


“That one owes me more money for keeping his exploits out of the tabloids than you do, Zelig,” Sesshoumaru added.


“You owe cover money?” Bas asked, his head turning to look at his father.


“Not nearly on the scale that your brother does,” Cain replied smoothly.


“At least Evan’s consistent,” Ryomaru said. “If there’s trouble to be had, he’ll find it. One summer, he got into a fight with about ten other punks, all to impress a girl.”


“Sounds kind of like someone else I know,” Toga quipped, arching his eyebrows as he stared rather pointedly at Ryomaru.


Ryomaru grinned unrepentantly. “I never got into fights to impress girls,” he clarified. “I just got into fights, period.”


“You know, Valerie, it isn’t too late to back out,” Cain said, shifting his look to meet Valerie’s. His words sounded quite serious, but she didn’t miss the obvious, if not understated, amusement that added a brightness to his eyes, a sparkle to his gaze.


“And if you do go ahead and marry him, maybe you should consider adopting instead of running the risk of spreading his particular brand of troublemaking to your children,” Bas added.


Valerie’s amusement at the given situation faded, and she shook her head. “But he . . . he can’t have kids. I mean, you all should know . . .”


“That whole sterile business?” Griffin Marin grumbled as he, too, stepped into the office. The hulking bear-youkai didn’t move out of the doorway, but then, there wasn’t much room to be had inside, either. “Isabelle told me about that bit of nonsense,” he went on, his cheeks pinking slightly at the current subject. “I guess it made sense at the time, though . . .”


“Wait, what?” Valerie blurted, her confusion evident. Why did she feel as though she were two steps behind everything? “But he was tested, and—”


Cain waived a hand to cut her off. “Yeah, he was, you’re right,” he agreed, a faint hint of a flush creeping into his face, as well, “and he was sterile, I guess, at that point. I guess he never got around to telling you that, being youkai, he can choose whether or not to have pups, so if he doesn’t want to, then . . .” Giving his head a quick shake, he tapped a cigarette out of his pocket and spared a moment to light it. “Anyway, that was the easiest way to deal with that particular situation. Evan’s made some pretty stupid mistakes over the years, but that’s never been one of them.”


Valerie didn’t respond to that right away. Unsure exactly how she felt on the matter, she took her time sipping from the water bottle as she considered what she’d just been told. On the one hand, he really should have told her the truth about the whole child-issue sooner, but then, she supposed that the subject simply hadn’t come up. In the rush of planning a wedding in three months’ time, she had to allow that her mind hadn’t been on the issue of Evan being sterile, either. Still, a quiet voice in the back of her head prodded her. Why was it that the idea of children had always frightened her, but somehow, the fleeting thought of a small child with Evan’s eyes and the same silver hair was enough to draw a little smile from her . . .?


“If you do decide to have children with that one,” Kurt remarked thoughtfully, “we’ll just hope that they take after you and not him. You seem to have much better judgment than he does, anyway.”


“Keh! Marrying him, ain’t she?” Ryomaru rumbled, but he grinned and winked at Valerie, just the same. “Not too sure about her judgment, either.”


“Still, no one would really blame you if you decided to get the hell out of Dodge before it’s too late,” Kurt said. Then he, too, broke into a grin.


“Can’t say you weren’t warned,” Morio quipped. Suddenly, though, he frowned, his gaze shifting over the assembly of men. “Oi, where’s Mamo-chan?”


Bas grunted, likely at the use of the name that would likely get Morio clobbered if, in fact, ‘Mamo-chan’ had been there. “Gunnar took Evan home with him, remember?”


“Oh, yeah,” Morio allowed. “Too bad. I’m sure he had some other great moments to add.”


“Last chance to run,” Kichiro said despite the grin that tugged on his lips. Kurt’s cell phone buzzed, and he dug it out of his pocket, only to frown at the message he’d received. Abruptly pushing himself away from the wall, he nodded at the assembled men and Valerie and ducked out of the room.


Valerie laughed and shook her head. “Thank you all for your concern,” she replied as she got to her feet, “but I . . . I think I’ll take my chances.”



<<< 221: Haste to the Wedding

223: The Waiting Game >>>




Nabe: Japanese hotpot. It’s a traditional Japanese ‘stew’ made from cooking veggies and assorted other goodies (mushrooms and seafood or meat) in a broth of fish stock, sake, and soy sauce.

Oji-san: polite way to address one’s uncle.

Mamo-chan: Morio tends to call Gunnar this, mostly to irritate him.

The Hardest Part is the Nightby Bon Jovi originally appeared on the 1985 release, 7800 Degrees Fahrenheit. Copyrighted to Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora, and David Bryan.

== == == == == == == == == ==




Ginger75125 ——— sutlesarcasm (shows on ch220 post lol)





Final Thought from Valerie:

He’s not sterile …?


Blanket disclaimer for this fanfic (will apply to this and all other chapters in Subterfuge): I do not claim any rights to InuYasha or the characters associated with the anime/manga. Those rights belong to Rumiko Takahashi, et al. I do offer my thanks to her for creating such vivid characters for me to terrorize.


posted by Sueric at 7:44 pm  

Monday, April 28, 2014

P9: 220: Reconciliation

~~Chapter Two Hundred Twenty~~



A child arrived just the other day

He came into the world in the usual way

But there were planes to catch and bills to pay

He learned to walk while I was away …’

-‘The Cat’s in the Cradle’ by Harry Chapin.




Gin hurried into the bright and airy kitchen humming a low song under her breath as she made straight for the refrigerator without noticing Evan, sitting in the breakfast nook with a cup of tea and a scowl on his face. The moment he saw his mother, however, that scowl dissipated, and he couldn’t help the soft chuckle that escaped him at the sight of his tiny mama and her less-than-tiny belly. “Mornin’, Mama,” he called as he lifted the mug of tea to his lips.


Gin squeaked in surprised and whipped around to face him, nearly losing her balance when her extra girth kept going but her feet did not. “Oh, Evan!” she exclaimed softly, steadying herself on the counter beside her. “When did you get here?”


“Just a few minutes ago, actually,” he admitted, then nodded at the white enameled kettle on the stovetop. “Made up some hot water if you want tea.”


She spared a moment to stare almost longingly at the pot then sighed. “I promised your father I’d drink more milk and less good stuff,” she admitted, her face contorting for a moment, designed to let him know what she thought of the idea of drinking milk.


Evan grinned. “Well, some people put milk in their tea,” he remarked mildly.


“That sounds so gross! Why would any—Oh-h-h-h,” she breathed as her eyes flashed open wide in understanding. “That would make the milk taste better,” she decided, spinning around to retrieve a mug out of the cupboard behind her.


“Speaking of Cain,” Evan said with a frown, deliberately taking his time in choosing his words, “he in his studio?”


“Your father?” Gin asked, her voice preoccupied as she set about making a mug of tea. “Well, he’s probably up now, but he was sleeping when I came down. Is that why you’re here?”


“Mmm,” Evan replied in a non-committal sort of way. “I promised V I’d talk to him.”


Gin didn’t seem to find anything amiss in his words, and she spared a moment to cast him a bright smile before resuming her task once more, and Evan had to shake his head when she stopped only long enough to pour about a tablespoon of milk into her teacup. “He mentioned working on that sculpture for your wedding present,” she went on before sipping from her cup. Then she sighed and closed her eyes as though she were in heaven. “Oh, this is nice . . . Well, aside from the milk . . .” Then she blinked and frowned as she glanced at Evan once more. “Will you be staying long? I could make a nice lunch . . .”


Evan sighed and shrugged as he forced himself to stand up. No sense in delaying the inevitable, now was there . . .? “I, uh . . . I don’t know, Mama. Maybe.”


Her frown shifted from thoughtful to slightly worried, and Evan could have kicked himself for the change. “Is everything okay?” she asked in a brighter tone than he supposed she would have normally use—proof positive that she was more concerned than she ought to have been.


For that reason alone, Evan wandered around the counter to give her a hug and a loud, obnoxious kiss on the cheek. “Everything’s right as rain, Mama,” he assured her. “I just . . . I just need to ask Cain a few things.”


“All right,” she relented, taking her time as she sipped her tea. Staring at Evan over the brim of the delicate cup, she seemed to be considering something. “Make sure you find me when you’re done! Seems like we haven’t had much time to visit lately.”


Sparing a moment to smile and to step over to give her a quick hug and kiss on the cheek, Evan wasn’t so sure, but he didn’t gainsay her, either. “I will, Mama. Promise.”






He almost missed the soft knock on the studio door. Having just taken a step back to give the painting a critical eye, Cain blinked as the abrasive sound intruded on his thoughts. “It’s open,” he called, crossing his arms over his chest, using the heels of his hands to idly rub at his sides and inadvertently smearing traces of paint onto his skin in the process.


“Hey, uh, Cain . . . Got a minute?”


Scowling at the paint he’d managed to get all over himself, Cain spared a moment to glance over at Evan and nod. “Sure,” he said, reaching for a work cloth to clean himself off, only to succeed in adding to the mess since he’d been using it to dab his brushes on, too. “Um . . .” he drawled, jerking his head in the vague direction of the bathroom. “It’s ‘Dad’, and let me clean this up, first . . .”


Digging his hands into the pockets of his jeans, Evan shuffled forward, following in Cain’s wake. “If, uh . . . If you’re busy, I can come back later . . .”


Glancing up a he stuck a clean white washcloth under the running tap, Cain shook his head quickly, casting Evan an apologetic kind of glance. “No, it’s fine,” he assured him quickly. There was something weird in Evan’s aura, a sense of reluctance, of complete reservation, and Cain wasn’t sure why. “I just need to get this off me before I forget about it.” Rubbing at the drying paint smears, he frowned. “What do you need?”


Letting out a deep breath, Evan slumped back against the shower stall, crossing his arms over his chest as he considered Cain’s question. “I . . . I don’t need anything, Cain. I just . . . just wanted to . . . talk.”


That got Cain’s full attention. Frowning thoughtfully as he stared at his son’s reflection in the plate glass mirror over the sink, he nodded slowly and dropped the washcloth on the counter. Something about Evan’s stance, the reticence that he was trying to hide . . . “Okay,” he said, leading the way out of the bathroom, lifting a hand to gesture for Evan to follow. He said nothing as he crossed the floor to the small sitting area at the far end of the studio, Sitting on the sofa, he leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees and waited for Evan to sit down, too, before asking, “Is this something about the lighthouse or the wedding . . .?”


Evan made a face and quickly shook his head, and for the briefest of moments, time seemed to reverse, bringing to mind Evan as a small boy when he’d had to confess that he’d accidentally knocked Cain’s cake off the counter because he was running through the house with the first bokken he’d just been given. Cain smiled at the memory and wondered vaguely just what could inspire Evan to make that same kind of expression now.


Turning his head to the side, Evan scowled at the far wall, as though he thought maybe he could find the answers he sought written there. “V,” he said at length, haltingly, hesitantly. “She . . . She asked me to talk to you about . . . about things . . .”


Cain’s nostalgic smile dimmed then disappeared, and he gave the smallest shake of his head. “What kind of things?”


Heaving a sigh that seemed almost defeated, Evan let his gaze drop to the floor under his feet. “Just things . . . like . . .” Face screwing up into a disgusted grimace, Evan quickly shook his head again. “Like . . . Ah-h-h, this is stupid!” he growled, shooting to his feet, striding around the coffee table as he headed for the door.


Cain stood up, too. He wasn’t exactly surprised by Evan’s show of temper, but there was something else there, too—something that Cain couldn’t quite put his finger on but there, nonetheless. “Evan, wait,” he called after him. Evan stopped abruptly but didn’t turn around. “What’s this all about?”


“Nothing,” Evan grumbled, still refusing to face Cain. “It’s not important. Go back to your . . . well, whatever you were doing.”


“No,” Cain insisted, stuffing his hands into the pockets of the smudged and rumpled khaki pants. “I want to know what’s on your mind. I want to know why . . .” He made a face that Evan didn’t see. “If this is about yesterday, I apologize. I really wasn’t trying to say that I thought you weren’t taking things into consideration, and I’m sorry if you thought that I was.”


Evan snorted indelicately, his shoulders slumping forward as he crossed his arms over his chest. “Just yesterday, huh? Nothing about the million other times you’ve just assumed I was a damn idiot without bothering to ask me anything first, right?”


Cain blinked, more in reaction to the raw vehemence in Evan’s tone than because of the actual accusation. “I’ve never—”


“Bullshit, you’ve never!” Evan snarled, his words warped slightly, enough for Cain to understand that he hadn’t opened his mouth to utter them. The crackle in Evan’s youki spiked, jagged, sharp, as though it could keep everything—or maybe just Cain—away. “That’s all I’ve ever gotten from you, isn’t it? The only faith you’ve ever shown in me is that you know that I’m always gonna fuck everything up, right?”


Shaking his head as though to refute Evan’s claims, Cain took a step toward his son, but stopped. “That’s not true. I—”


“Forget it,” Evan growled once more, his words galvanizing him into action as he started toward the door again. “Settle things with you? Keh! How the fuck can you tell me why you’ve never wanted m—” Biting himself off with a very decisive snort, Evan shook his head again. “Dumbest damn idea, ever.”


“Evan!” Cain called, striding after Evan to intercept him, only to draw up short when Evan slammed out of the studio so hard that the door creaked and groaned against the hinges. The sound echoed in the quiet as Cain tried to figure out exactly what had set Evan off. ‘Never . . . Never wanted . . .? Him . . .? But . . . that’s not . . . Why would he think . . .?






Slamming out of the studio, Evan was so absorbed in his own anger, his own emotions, that he smacked right into Gin. She squeaked in surprise as he caught her, steadied her. “Mama . . . sorry,” he muttered. It took another moment for him to get his rampant fury under control, and, willing himself to take a few deep breaths, he closed his eyes for a moment and struggled for a semblance of calm, forcing a smile that he hoped would fool Gin. It didn’t.


“Evan? What’s going on?” she asked gently, concern marring her brow as she reached up to touch his cheek. “Why are you fighting with your father?”


Giving up the pretense that wasn’t working anyway, Evan let out a deep breath and furiously shook his head. “It’s nothing, Mama. At least, nothing important.”


She didn’t look like she believed him. “It didn’t sound like ‘nothing important’,” she pointed out in a carefully reasonable tone. When he refused to volunteer anything more, she sighed and reached for his hand, dragging him down the hallway and toward the stairs.


He let her lead him through the house and into the kitchen, and she finally let go long enough to heft the giant cookie jar she always kept fully stocked. “Sit with me,” she said, her tone light and pleasant as always but with an underlying sense of purpose that he couldn’t ignore.


Seeing no way around it, Evan slipped into the breakfast nook but shook his head when Gin nudged the jar toward him. “V . . . V wanted me to try to talk things out with Cain,” he finally admitted.


“Did the two of you have a disagreement?”


He shook his head. “Not exactly . . . Not unless you can call my whole life one massive disagreement, anyway.”


“What do you mean?” she demanded, unable to keep the nonchalant tone that she had previously managed to maintain. “Your whole life . . .?” When he didn’t answer right away, Gin sighed softly, shaking her head, gnawing on her bottom lip in a troubled sort of way. “The two of you used to get along so well, Evan. I . . . I just don’t understand . . .”


Uttering a terse snort, Evan flopped back in his seat, his foot hammering up and down in a nervous kind of cadence. “Yeah, well, that makes two of us,” he grumbled.


“Did . . . something happen?” she asked carefully, as though she needed to measure her words.


“Not really,” Evan admitted grudgingly. “I mean, nothing out of the ordinary.”


Gin sighed, her ears flattening as she winced. “Evan, your father . . . He loves you, you know? I mean, he doesn’t really come out and say it all the time, but surely you know—”


“Do I?” he interjected, his gaze blazing as it locked with his mother’s. Too many memories of different things over the years—too many to count, too many to list—and the underlying knowledge that he just had never really measured up . . . “All I’ve ever been is a disappointment,” Evan concluded with a furious shake of his head. “That’s all he’s ever seen in me.”


Gin’s soft gasp was audible in the ambient quiet. She drew herself back as though he’d struck her, blinking quickly as a wash of suspect brightness entered her gaze. “That’s—That’s not true!” she insisted, the hurt inspired by his words, a palpable thing. “Your father’s just as proud of you as he is of your brother and sisters! Why ever would you think any differently?”


“Aw, c’mon, Mama!” Evan complained. Cutting himself off abruptly, he made himself take a deep breath, willed himself to calm down before he really managed to upset her even more. “He stuck me in the basement away from everyone else,” he said in a tone so low that she had to struggle to hear him. “He couldn’t even be bothered to have any pictures taken with me, ever. The only time he has anything at all to say to me is when he is telling me just what I’ve done wrong, and God forbid that anyone ever find out that Zel Roka and Evan Zelig are one in the same . . .” Pausing for a moment to drag his hands through his hair, Evan shook his head once more. “Hell, he couldn’t even be bothered to attend my college graduation, now could he? It kind of speaks for itself, don’t you think?”


“But,” Gin began slowly, shaking her head in obvious confusion, “of course he was at your graduation, Evan. Why in the world would you think otherwise? As for Zel Roka . . .” Trailing off, she suddenly stood, reaching over to grab Evan’s hand, to haul him to his feet once more. “Come on.”


“Mama? What . . .?” he said but allowed her to drag him out of the living room once more. Through the living room, into the foyer, and around the corner into Cain’s study, she led him, not stopping until they were standing in front of a small bookshelf near the far windows. On that shelf were CDs—Evan’s CDs—every last one of them, but that wasn’t Gin’s target. No, it was a small leather-bound book, and she picked it up, turning it over a time or two, before sticking it in Evan’s hand and stepping back again. “What’s this?” he asked, frowning down at it. Upon first glance, he figured that it was a very small photo album, but it didn’t seem to have any pictures in it.


“Just look at it, Evan,” Gin encouraged gently.


Sparing a moment to stare at his mother, Evan slowly lifted the cover.


Inside the plastic-pocketed pages were stubs—ticket stubs from various concerts he’d had in the area, even as far away as Massachusetts—and all of them were from his shows. There had to be at least seventy-five or more of them, all carefully stuck into the pages of the book. “What . . .?”


Gin laughed softly, sadly. “We never miss one in this area,” she admitted with a shrug. “Even the shows that sold out so fast, Cain’s always managed to get the tickets.”


Blinking slowly as he tried to understand the meaning of it all, Evan leafed through the pages once more. “I could have gotten you tickets if you’d just told me you wanted them,” he muttered.


Gin giggled. “Your father said that it wouldn’t be right, that you made your money from performing,” she said. “Besides, it’s always so exciting, being in the audience!”


‘All right, so he’s been to some of the shows . . . That doesn’t mean . . .’


I don’t know, Evan . . . Maybe there really is more to it than you thought . . .’


“When your last CD came out, your father and your brother stood out all night in line with all these teenagers, waiting for the store to open,” she went on. “Sydnie and I took them coffee and blankets. It was so cold, but your father was afraid that they’d sell out of he waited to go in the morning. They always make sure that they get your CDs the day they’re released . . .” As the memory faded, so did Gin’s smile, and as her gaze cleared once more, she sighed.


Evan wasn’t sure what to think of that. Bubby and Cain, waiting out in the weather, all night to get his CDs? That was entirely ridiculous, wasn’t it? There wasn’t any way in the world they’d do that . . . was there . . .? But . . .


“Your father loves you, Evan . . .” Suddenly, she grimaced, her gaze skittering away as a hint of a blush crept up her cheeks. “Maybe it’s my fault,” she admitted quietly. “Cain always held Sebastian, you know? So . . . so I told him that you were mine, that he had to let me hold you and baby you . . . You were . . . and Cain . . .” Shaking her head, she paced the floor, uttering a soft laugh that was tinged with a little sadness. “You know, he’d try to take you with them when they went to pick out the Christmas tree. But I . . .” Wincing as though she were ashamed of what she was about to say, Gin sighed. “But I always wanted to keep you close to me . . .”


“You . . . did that . . .?” Evan couldn’t help asking as year after year of memories rushed to the fore—always asking if he could go, the strange look that Cain always got on his face, like he might have wanted to take Evan along, and yet . . . And yet, Evan had never stopped to think about what those expressions meant, had he . . .?


Still, the other things . . . The explanations of a few minor details did not really change the bigger picture, and there were far too many instances of the same thing that couldn’t just be wiped away.


Gin slipped her arms around him, gave him a reassuring hug. “You know, Evan, maybe . . . maybe you should go look at the gallery—really look at it, I mean,” she suggested.


Evan shook his head, unsure why she would suggest that, all things considered. “What difference would that make?” he asked, arching an eyebrow at his mother.


She shrugged a little too off-handedly. “They say the easiest way to understand an artist is through his art, right?” she replied lightly. “I just thought that if you looked at your father’s work, maybe you’ll see something you haven’t noticed before.”


Evan digested that in silence as Gin leaned up on tiptoe to kiss his cheek. Casting him a warm smile that trembled just the tiniest bit, she left him there alone to think.


Keh! What the hell is there to ‘think about’?‘ Evan fumed, dropping the book onto the shelf again before turning on his heel and heading for the door. ‘Completely useless . . . Sorry, V, but there just isn’t any ‘fixing’ some things . . .’


It wasn’t at all like her family, was it? They made their mistakes, sure, but they hadn’t stopped loving Valerie, and as far as he could tell, Cain had spent much of his life barely tolerating a son who hadn’t been able to fit into the perfection of the Zelig family framework.


Yeah, but maybe your mama has a point,‘ his youkai voice remarked slowly. ‘Maybe there is more to it. I mean, strictly speaking, Mama sucks at lying, you know? And she really seems to think . . .’


Of course Mama thinks that this is all in my head,’ Evan scoffed though his tirade had lost some of the overwhelming anger. ‘It’s second nature to defend Cain, isn’t it? He’s her mate, after all.’


And you’re her precious baby,’ the voice shot back dryly. ‘So maybe instead of doing all this for you or for V or for whatever reason, maybe you should consider trying—just trying—for the sake of that woman instead. After all, you can’t really think that leaving her in the middle like you always do can be a fun thing for her, either.’


That thought drew him up abruptly. Standing inches in front of the door, he let his hand drop away with a heavy sigh. ‘All right; all right: point taken.’


It wasn’t as though he honestly believed he’d get any real answers out of anyone, least of all Cain. It really wasn’t that Evan truly believed that Cain was really trying to be a jackass about everything, either. No, a part of him had to wonder, didn’t it, if everything had just become a habit to Cain, that his indifference might just be something that he didn’t really think about at all.


Or maybe he was the one who had grown to expect it.


Still, there were so many times, so many instances and examples. Even Valerie had noticed, too, hadn’t she? He’d realized a long time ago that the photo albums that Gin had so carefully and lovingly put together really didn’t have even one photo of him with his father—not one. So many pictures of Gin holding him while he slept or playing with him on the floor, Gin holding onto the back of the bicycle that he’d first learned to ride. Gin catching him as he flew down the slide at the park, Gin, Gin, Gin . . .


Even so, he found himself moving toward the stairs once more, not really knowing just what it was that his mother thought he would see, unable to reconcile the sense of resignation that he’d carried around for so long when it came to his father with the strange and foreign hope that maybe, maybe . . .


I just thought that if you looked at your father’s work, maybe you’ll see something you haven’t noticed before . . .”


Evan couldn’t rightfully recall the last time he’d bothered to wander through the gallery housed on the second floor of the mansion. Maybe he’d avoided it, knowing what was never there. As silent as a tomb, the room was, filled with the underlying odors of paint and canvas, of linseed oil and a hint of turpentine. But those smells were faint—a human nose likely wouldn’t be able to discern them. Partial walls had been constructed, hung with paintings, illuminated by soft spotlights. Pedestals of varying height were carved out of some of the structures, adored with statues of varying medias. Most of the paintings near the front of the gallery were ones that he’d seen so many times—too many to count—paintings that had evolved over time, telling the story of the Zelig family through pictures. Progressions of various family members as they grew from infancy through adulthood, insular moments in time, captured so expertly by an artist’s eye, a craftsman’s hand . . .


And Evan had to admit that there was something spectacular about his father’s ability to project such feeling. He’d always respected Cain’s work as an artist. Maybe that’s what made it all the more painful in retrospect: the idea that Evan . . . Had he ever commanded that kind of thought, that kind of dedication from Cain?


Entirely unfair, Evan, and you know it,’ his youkai voice chided gently. ‘You know damn well that all those paintings of you and Gin . . . He made those, too, and with as much care and deliberation as he’s ever devoted to any of his other masterworks.’


Why was it so easy for Evan to look upon those pieces, to tell himself that the devotion had gone into immortalizing Gin on the canvas and not Evan? And yet . . .


As he wandered slowly from painting to painting, pausing now and again to touch a sculpture, to run his fingertips over the roughened texture of the dried paint, he frowned. Jillian, standing before a huge window, her hand resting lightly on Evan’s arm as he leaned in to kiss her forehead, careful not to muss the wedding dress she wore . . . Bas with Bailey draped around his throat, with Olivia in his arms as Sydnie leaned in for a kiss . . . So many moments that Evan hadn’t even realized that Cain had witnessed, all captured in minute detail . . .


Frowning thoughtfully, he shuffled further on, but stopped in front of a different painting—one he hadn’t seen before. It was him—Evan—standing on a stage, accepting his bachelor’s degree, but there was something odd about the picture . . .


He hadn’t thought that Cain was there, had he? At the time, he’d brushed it off, smiled at his mother, and insisted that he couldn’t hang around for a family dinner, that he’d had plans with some friends that were leaving the next day to go home. Gin had seemed upset over the entire affair, but for once, Evan just didn’t have it in him to give in, to pretend that everything was all right. Ignoring the protests, the interrupted insistence that he wait, that he listen, Evan had given his family that carefree grin and waved a hand before darting off again. It had felt like one defection too many, hadn’t it, but . . .


But the angle of the view in the painting and the photographs that he’d seen later . . . He hadn’t ever stopped to think about that, had he?


Cain . . . Cain was there . . .’ he realized with a start. Cain hadn’t sat with the rest of the family in the audience, no. He’d moved around to the other side, watching everything, snapping pictures . . . and Evan . . .


“Your, uh,” Cain cleared his throat, jamming his hands deeper into the pockets of his rumpled khaki slacks, “your mama said she thought you might be in here.”


“Cain . . .”


Letting out a deep breath, Cain tried to smile. It ended up more of a grimace, though, as the strain in the air thickened and settled over them both like an invisible fog. After a minute, Cain cleared his throat once more and shrugged. “I’ve been . . . been trying to figure out why you’d think that I never . . .” he grimaced, “never wanted you. That’s never been true, Evan.”


Evan wasn’t sure what to say to that, but somehow, the idea of arguing it further just wasn’t as appealing as it used to be. Turning on his heel, he took a few more steps, his gaze shifting over the collection of paintings. Cain fell into step beside him, and neither had much to say as they slowly perused the gallery.


Pausing before a painting that Evan hadn’t seen before, he jerked his shoulder in that general direction. Tanny, who looked to still be a toddler, sitting on the counter in the kitchen with a pretty white dress concocted of yards and yards of antique white lace with two handfuls of Cain’s cake hovering before her cake-smeared face and an angelic expression illuminating her gaze. “Sami seen that one?” Evan asked, more than a little surprised that Cain would paint such a scene, given that he hated sharing his cakes with anyone. Then he saw the brass placket under it, bearing the title, “The Cake Thief”, and he chuckled.


“She saw it,” Cain remarked, wrinkling his nose, obviously still quite irritated over the entire affair. “She wanted to take it home, but your mother wanted to keep it.”


“At least she’s better about it these days,” Evan pointed out since Tanny, now five years old, had at last learned that Cain’s cakes were sacred.


Cain snorted indelicately. “Not that well,” he grumbled. “Last week, I caught her sneaking crumbs.”


Heaving a sigh and slowly shaking his head, Evan shot his father a droll glance. “That’s pretty sad, Cain,” he remarked.


“I know it,” Cain replied. “You’d think she’d know by now that her grandma makes those for me.”


Opening his mouth to offer a rebuff, Evan snapped it closed before he could. That wasn’t exactly what he had been thinking, but pointing out to Cain that stealing a few crumbs wasn’t really the same as trying to take the whole cake was rather a moot point, as far as Cain was concerned.


But the traces of amusement brought on by the Tanny discussion faded away when Evan glanced at the next painting on the wall. Another one he hadn’t seen before, certainly—a hazy, smoky, dark piece: a lone figure on a backdrop of inkiness, of burring lines and almost insular motion. As though the figure was the only thing worth seeing, it took a moment for it to sink in: the image on the canvas . . .


Noticing Evan’s preoccupation, Cain pulled his hand out of his pocket long enough to flick his fingers at the painting almost dismissively. “Did that one a couple years ago, I guess,” Cain said quietly, almost absently, as though he were trying to remember the specifics. “It was after one of your shows in Portland,” he went on, his tone taking on a stronger sort of lilt. “Not that you have bad shows, of course, but something about that one was particularly memorable . . .” Then Cain suddenly laughed, more of an exhalation, a breath, than anything. “It’s weird, you know . . . I see you up there, and then I think about other times . . . like when you were smaller and you’d drag that, uh . . . that blue plastic guitar around . . .? Or . . . Or when we made up that waffling song . . .”


“The Waffling Song,” Evan repeated, a trace of a smile quirking his lips. The Waffling Song—a child’s misunderstood version of the Wassail Song . . . ‘Cain . . . He remembers that . . .’


Cain sighed, digging a rumpled pack of cigarettes out of his pocket and taking his time as he shook one out and lit it. Staring up at the ceiling so high above, watching as the tendrils of smoke rose and dissipated, he gave an offhanded shrug. “Your mom said . . . Why didn’t you ever tell me that you didn’t like the basement?” he asked quietly.


Evan blinked and shot Cain a quick glance, but he couldn’t really tell what he might have been thinking.   Just staring at the ceiling, but not really seeing much of anything . . . “It’s . . . It’s not that I didn’t like it,” Evan replied. “It just seemed like . . . like you were trying to distance me—trying to get rid of me or something.”


That got Cain’s attention quickly enough. Evan could feel the intensity of his father’s gaze though he didn’t look to verify it. “That’s not . . . Evan,” he said, and maybe it was genuine surprise that halted his words, “You liked to stay up, to play your music and stuff,” he explained. “We thought about soundproofing your room, but I thought . . .” His smile suddenly seemed a little sad, a little lost, and maybe he was second-guessing himself, the decisions he’d made years ago. “Your mom said that it’d be cool to put in a little studio for you down there,” he went on almost philosophically. “There was more room in the basement . . .”


He hadn’t stopped to think about that before, had he? Concentrating instead on the proximity, the idea that he, unlike Bas or Jillian, was being moved out of the upper levels . . . That wasn’t what Cain had been trying to do, and maybe . . .


Drawing a deep breath, Evan tried to brush off the last lingering doubts, and yet, there was one thing: one big thing . . . “All right,” he allowed, a forced neutrality entering his tone, “then tell me, Cain—not that it matters, I guess, ’cause it kind of doesn’t—why didn’t you tell me you were at my college graduation?”


Cain blinked and gave his head a little shake. “I . . . I thought you knew,” he finally said. “I mean, why wouldn’t I have been?”


Was it true? All of those things that Evan had perceived over time . . . Had he been wrong?


It’s possible,’ his youkai voice remarked slowly. ‘So quick to assume that your father has always treated you like an afterthought, but you know . . . I . . . I don’t think that’s true . . . Do you?


Always so quick to assume that he understood the meaning behind it all, Evan had to wonder just how many things had been altered by his own desire to see them in a certain light. Was that . . . Was that what Valerie was trying to make him understand?


He winced inwardly, stealing a surreptitious glance at Cain once more. Gaze trained on the image of Evan on stage, there was a certain level of recrimination just below the surface that Evan could feel. Regret that he hadn’t told Evan these things before, maybe . . .? Or could he simply not comprehend just how much anger Evan really had been trying to hide . . .?


And suddenly, Evan realized something: something he hadn’t really considered before. Maybe Cain didn’t truly understand him, or maybe he did, Evan wasn’t sure. But maybe that didn’t really matter, after all because Cain . . .


“I, uh . . . I guess I never got a chance to tell you,” Cain began slowly, shuffling his feet, rolling his shoulders as though he were trying to diminish his stature. “I was really proud of you that day . . . and I’m . . . I’m really proud of you now, too.” Then he chuckled and glanced at Evan for just a moment before his gaze flickered back to the painting once more. “I mean, at least you weren’t kicked out of college for fighting.”


Evan chuckled despite himself at the not-so-subtle reminder that Bas had, indeed, been expelled from law school for that very reason. “Yeah, well, don’t take it too hard, Cain,” Evan relented, breaking into a tiny smile as he shifted his gaze to his father’s face once more. “Guess there are things I never told you, too.”


Cain met his stare and raised his eyebrows. “Like what?” he asked almost hesitantly, and Evan supposed he couldn’t blame him for that, either.


“I . . . I went on to grad school,” he admitted.


That seemed to surprise Cain. “Did you?”


Evan nodded. “I was going to tell you. To tell the truth, I was going to surprise you by just inviting you to my graduation, but . . .” Trailing off with a grimace since he knew well enough why he didn’t bother to do that, he shrugged. “I ended up missing it, anyway.”


Grasping Evan’s shoulder, Cain pulled him around to face him, irritation surfacing on his father’s features. “What do you mean?” he demanded. “Graduate school? That’s a huge deal!”


Holding up his hands to stave off whatever lecture Cain was gearing up for, Evan shook his head. “Sami was missing,” he explained with a simplistic shrug. “She was more important than anything. To be honest, it slipped my mind at the time, and by the time I remembered it afterward . . . Well, it just didn’t seem as important as everything else.”


Cain didn’t look like he agreed. “You don’t think we’d have wanted to hear about this?”


Again, Evan shrugged, but he also smiled. “It’s not like I can go around, calling myself Dr. Zel Roka—though that’d be kind of cooler than shit . . .”


“Doctor . . .” Cain repeated, his tone a mix of wonder and amusement. “So what’d you get your doctorate in?”


“Music theory,” Evan replied simply. “I mean, it’s not like I could deliver babies or anything.”


Cain chuckled, too, clapping Evan on the shoulder. “You know . . . Why don’t you call Valerie? Tell her to come on over, and we’ll go out to dinner. Celebrate your accomplishment, even if it is a little late.”


Evan opened his mouth to tell Cain that it wasn’t a big deal, that it was fine. Instead, however, he uttered a chuckle, but there was nothing dry or sarcastic to the sound. “All right,” he agreed. “You paying?”


Cain laughed. “Sure. I’ll call your brother—see if he and Sydnie can join us.”


Evan watched as Cain strode away, watching as he dug his cell phone out of his pocket and put it to his ear before slipping out of the gallery once more.


I want you to find out the reasons why you feel the way you do. You . . . You’ve taught me just how precious family is, Evan. If there’s even the smallest chance that you can come to terms with your father, then I want you to.


As her words resounded in his mind, Evan’s grin widened. All right, so there was a good chance that Valerie was going to do some gloating when he told her, but that was okay. The understanding he’d gained was well worth it, wasn’t it?


Of course it is.


Evan chuckled and pulled out his cell phone, too. ‘Yeah,’ he allowed as he brought up Valerie’s number and dialed it. ‘Yeah, I guess it is.’




221: Haste to the Wedding >>>



The Cat’s in the Cradleby Harry Chapin originally appeared on the 1974 release, Verities and Balderdash. Copyrighted to Harry Chapin and Sandra Chapin.

== == == == == == == == == ==




Media Miner seems to be having issues with reviews, including looking up older ones.   Sad, but I seriously think this site is dying a slow death. Starting with P10, updates will post to my blog, so if you’re not following it, you might want to, and comments are easier left on the blog, as well—and I can respond to them, too, which is nice.



cutechick18 ——— amohip


Final Thought from Cain:

A … doctor …?


Blanket disclaimer for this fanfic (will apply to this and all other chapters in Subterfuge): I do not claim any rights to InuYasha or the characters associated with the anime/manga. Those rights belong to Rumiko Takahashi, et al. I do offer my thanks to her for creating such vivid characters for me to terrorize.


posted by Sueric at 8:53 pm  

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Weeeeell ………..

Well, the original plan was to get the rest of Subterfuge done by Christmas, but I’m not so sure that’s possible.  My computer has decided to die on me, so all the work I’d done is gone right now, and I’m forced to resort to using my kid’s computer (like now) just to get some stuff done.  No one is more unhappy about this than I am, but it is what it is.  I should be able to get a new computer around tax time (ugh) so until then, I’m just doing what I can with my phone (though writing isn’t exactly one of those things lol).


Sorry for the delay, but I wish you all a GREAT holiday season!

posted by Sueric at 7:19 pm  

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Happy Update!

Just wanted to take a long-overdue moment to check in and to say THANK YOU to everyone who helped to save our house. At the moment, we’re still working on the repairs (they should be finished by Thanksgiving, knock on wood!), but for the first time in a long time, I don’t fear what tomorrow might bring. I want to thank everyone who helped us, and I wanted to say THANKS as well to those who have offered me emotional support. It means more to me than you’ll ever know.


If you’ve heard the news lately, too, then maybe you’ve heard about the tornadoes that ripped through Indiana yesterday. We live about an hour north of the worst hit area (Kokomo), and I’m thankful to say that we had winds but kind of balanced between the storms so we didn’t actually get anything major where we live. It was frightening, though, because the tornado alarms went off and were pretty scary. Today, Eric’s factory (about fifteen minutes north of us) was shut down due to power outage, but it’s up and running now, and we’re hoping that he can take a vacation day for today so that we don’t lose a day’s pay since our electric bill is due next week. It’s not a huge deal, but it will make things incredibly tight if he’s short a day that isn’t his fault. But I think they’ll allow it because I’m sure that he’s not the only one who will be asking lol.


We don’t actually have a thing for Thanksgiving dinner, but I figure that it’s okay. All my guys and I have talked about it, and we’ve come to the conclusion that it’s fine to have peanut butter sandwiches and ramen for our holiday because we have so much to be thankful for. I feel like I’ve learned so much this year especially but last year as well about blessings and about the things that truly matter. We might not have much this year, but maybe next year will be better. We don’t have anything for Thanksgiving, and we won’t have anything for Christmas, either, but we’re healthy, and we’re home, and I think that’s more than a lot of people have.


As for updates, I am hoping to get back to my real love of writing when we finally get the kitchen work out of the way. I am HOPING to give you all the rest of Subterfuge for Christmas this year. At least, this is my aim, God willing, so I hope you’re all looking forward to that!


Again, I cannot express my gratitude to everyone who has helped us. I know I’ve said it before, but I mean it. I truly hope God blesses you all, and I pray that you all enjoy this holiday season!


With all my love,


posted by Sueric at 2:38 am  

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Status Update

Figured I should post one of these to let you all know what’s going on, but first off, I’d like to take a moment to thank everyone who has sent their support, monetarily and via email just to offer encouragement. It’s meant a lot to me and my family.


As of this time, we still don’t have enough to finish the repairs on the house that are needed on time, and with every day that passes, I reconcile myself a little more to the idea that it’s just not enough, that our efforts (and yours) aren’t going to be enough right now. As near as we can figure, we’re short about 400 – 600 to finish the things that have to be done in order for our house to not be condemned, though we’re hopeful that, if we somehow did manage to come up with the funds, that maybe they’d understand that it just took us a little longer to get the money; that they’ll let us have some kind of extension to actually complete the repairs. It’s my last real hope.


I wanted to take the time to let you all know what’s going to happen should we fail to meet the deadline. It’s not a threat or anything, of course. It’s just the reality of the situation, of how it is. As of right now, you see, we have no rent or mortgage payment, and there will be one. Most of the places in this area go for 500 – 600 a month rent, which is going to hurt us so very much, especially since, at the same time, we’re going to be even shorter every week, due to the implementation of Obamacare. See, Eric’s work insurance is a joke. $5000.00 per year deductible plus $1200.00 a year Out of Pocket BEFORE they’ll even co-pay on prescriptions, so unless someone were to become massively ill, we’ll never meet those two requirements, ever, yet we still have to pay 200.00 a month (50 a week) out of his check or be fined by the IRS at the end of the year—something else we cannot afford. Indiana has no choice though. The way the legislation is written, you HAVE to take whatever your employer offers you if they offer any kind of coverage, no matter how big of a joke it really is. You don’t get to choose your coverage. You take whatever they toss down to you and pay whatever you have to pay, and IF you’re lucky, you’ll get a ‘tax break’. Whatever. It does no good to complain about it. Letters to congresspeople and state reps don’t help. Why should they? We’re not rich. We don’t contribute to their reelection pots. They don’t give a great goddamn about us.


So, starting in January, our 440 a week drops to closer to 390 – 400. Ouch. On top of that, we’ll have to deal with a new rent payment that we didn’t have now, but it is what it is, right?


So anything “extra” bill-wise has to go, and the only “extra” we have is, sadly, our internet bill and phones. We’re going to keep one phone but shut off the other, which is okay, but we have to have some way for the school to contact us in case, God forbid, Skylar has a seizure or anything. We have a weekly car payment that will luckily end in April when it’s paid off, but we only have one car besides Alex’s, so we have to keep that, too. To that end, however, I’m trying to finish up Purity 9 at least, instead of leaving it hanging indefinitely. To do so, I do have to cut some stuff that was supposed to happen before the wedding, but I’d rather complete the story than to let it drag on and on, especially when there is frankly no telling when or if I’ll be back online anytime soon. Also, if it looks like we’re just not going to make it, then I will post the preliminary chapters to Purity 11 and 12 in the Spoiler Room forum (for those who have access). It’s not something I want to do, but it is what it is.


I also wanted to take the time to thank you all for your support and encouragement over the years. It’s meant the world to me. I honestly don’t know where I would be now if it weren’t for fanfiction and for you all, and I wish you all the best in the future. I’m hoping that I can post that everything’s going to be fine, but at this point, I’m trying to be realistic. It breaks my heart, but again, it is what it is, and I’d rather take the time now to tell you all how much I love and appreciate you than to end up not having the chance at all. I guess I was wrong before about being at rock bottom, because I feel more than ever that I am there now, but it is okay because at least when we finally do hit the bottom, there is no where else to go but up.


Hope to still be with you all after December 3rd, but if not, I hope that you all have enjoyed the stories that I have posted. They were written with love from my heart to yours.


All my love and affection,

Sueric aka Sue

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posted by Sueric at 1:24 am  

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Status Update

Hey. I know a lot of you are wondering where I’ve been and what I’ve been doing. We’ve been trying to get some work done on our house, and we’ve done what we could. There’s been a lot of crap going on around here, and it’s all kind of just bearing down on me, to the point where I have trouble functioning daily, if I want to be honest. It’s one of those situations where you feel like it’s never going to be okay, no matter what you do, you know? And every time you turn around, it just gets worse. To be completely frank, I feel like I’m at the very end of my rope.


After Alex’s Jeep was totaled, we used the insurance money to pay for another car because as you know, having just one car with two working adults is nearly impossible, especially when one of them works odd hours (Alex). Then we used the rest of the money to catch up on bills we hadn’t had a chance to pay, and we’re not talking a lot of bills. We’ve already cut down to the bare minimum as far as that goes. The problem is that the electric bill always runs over 200 bucks every month, and it sucks. On top of that, we’re barely able to squeak by week after week.


But you know, it doesn’t matter, does it? Because the worst thing in the world happens when you can least afford anything, right? So the roof over the back of our house that we knew was going bad decided to fall in. It’d been going for a while, I admit that, but when you don’t have the money to fix it, and I mean, really don’t have the money to fix it, then it’s a problem. We were able to get ice shield over it all, but we had to buy three rolls of it @100 bucks per roll (ouch). Then the car breaks down (another 160.), then our water switch for the house went out (only 20 but you get where I’m going here, right?), and to top it all off nicely, our front burner on the stove went out, too, which is not a big deal until you realize that the other front burner on our stove went out a while ago, so we only have the small back burners left working since those are fifty bucks apiece. Then we had no money for groceries at all, had no food, no help, no nothing. That’s where we are, and you’re not going to read about this on Facebook; I never post stuff like this there because, really, what’s the point? The point is, at this point, I am ready to give up, completely and utterly.


So in an effort to get some money from Eric’s 401k (our only option left), we filled out all the stuff they wanted, but they want an ‘official estimate’. We can’t. Firstly, there isn’t anyone who will do one without being paid (which we don’t have). Secondly, licensed contractors are required by law to report certain things, like black mold, and if they report that, the health department will condemn our house until it’s been fixed, and we cannot afford to move even temporarily. We’re so finished, it’s not funny. We can’t even get the money to help ourselves. I’ve been through it in my head so many times, and there’s just nothing. Not a thing that could help us or save us. We’re absolutely done. Needless to say, at this point, the stories are useless, pointless. I can’t get my head around real life stuff, so writing just seems frivolous when all I keep thinking is that if Eric could just work a couple days of overtime, we’d be okay. We’re not okay. No one is hiring, let alone hiring someone who hasn’t worked in 20 years because she wanted to raise her family, because she has a handicapped child that takes priority over everything. No one wants to hire me because I made a mistake 13 years ago and was convicted of a felony. They see that and that’s all they see. They don’t know if I have done anything to make sure that I don’t make the same mistake again (I did. I asked the court to order me to get counseling because we couldn’t afford it, so if the court ordered it, I wouldn’t have to pay for it when we didn’t have it.). They only see the “yes” box ticked next to have you ever been convicted of a felony? I’ll be honest here. All I can think of lately is that if I accidentally died, Eric could have my life insurance. They say God doesn’t let anything happen to you that you cannot handle, but I’m starting to wonder. I feel like I’m balancing on the edge of depression, and I’ve been there before. It’s an ugly place, and the whole thing is just dirty and terrible, but that’s where I feel like I’m going. So sorry about the lack of updates. At this point, I just don’t know when or how or anything. I just don’t know.

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posted by Sueric at 10:32 am  
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