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Lamia - Chapter 38

Published at 10th of August 2023 12:03:16 PM


Chapter 38

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Eric picked them up at the train station for the second time about three weeks into August.

“Thanks,” he said. “Helping me get stuff loaded up is way beyond the call of duty.”

Christian laughed. “It's an excuse to come say hi to your grandmother in person instead of over the phone.” He claimed the front seat without hesitation. “If either of us had a license, we could help you drive down, too, but you're out of luck there.”

“Having company for the drive is a lot of help in itself.”

“We cleaned up the master bedroom for you,” Mark said, crossing his arms on the back of the front seat with complete disregard for seatbelt laws. “And got a phone jack for a second line installed in it. All that's left in there now are the bed, dresser, wardrobe, and bookshelves, and you'll have plenty of room for your desk and stuff.”

“I still feel guilty about taking the master.”

“Don't. This way you get your own bathroom. Believe me, you want that, Chris can spend upwards of an hour in the tub. And you'll have more space for that terrifying collection of computer stuff that I plan to stay sensibly away from.”

Eric chuckled. “None of it bites.”

“I'm still staying away from it.”

Margaret greeted them at the front door, her fox sitting next to her. She smiled and came forward to welcome Christian with a hug, which he returned enthusiastically.

“The line-power obviously helped,” he observed, delighted. “That's wonderful!”

“I won't be going for long walks, but at least I can move around my own house fairly freely again as long as I’m sensible about it. Which means this infernal grandchild of mine can't argue, and you can take him away. Well, come on, inside.”

* * *

Come morning, they loaded Eric's partly-disassembled computer desk, cedar chest, and collection of boxes into the back of the pickup Margaret had rented.

She bid all three farewell with warm hugs—even Mark tolerated it—and they were off. They stopped a couple of times for a bathroom break and a cold drink, but generally made good time.

“Moving must be a real pain without a helpful witch around,” Eric commented, as he and Mark manoeuvred the now-lightweight desk of solid wood up the stairs.

“Probably,” Christian agreed, his gaze never leaving the desk. This was a little tiring, but he could retreat soon enough to bathe in the familiar nearby ley-lines, absorbing enough to replenish himself and feed Alexandra as well. Too bad Eric had no such way to recover. Oh well. While he was wishing, might as well wish they felt safe letting Eric meet Alexandra immediately; lamia strength could've handled any of this easily even without telekinetic assistance.

They moved everything up to the master bedroom at the end of the hall, then Eric and Christian left to return the truck while Mark started hunting around the kitchen for something supper-ish.

“I think this is the first time Mark has actually let you out of his sight alone with me,” Eric said.

“He's a bit protective,” Christian said neutrally.

“Uh-huh, I know that tone, not asking. Living in a city is going to be weird. Cool, but weird.”

“You’ve always lived in the country, right? Even before being with your grandmother?”

“Mmhmm. My parents split up when I was fifteen and Mom and I lived with Gran after that. Up 'til then, it was my parents and I near the edge of a village.”

“Where's your mom now?”

“Living with her girlfriend. I visit them sometimes, and we talk on the phone a lot, and her girlfriend is great, but everyone was happier with me at Gran's, me included. I'm surprised she stayed with my father as long as she did. He's no great loss. So, you've got a country kid to teach.” He flashed Christian one of those entirely charming grins.

“I’ve never lived anywhere else. There’s nothing to it. Everything's just squished into less space. You'll get used to it.”

They dropped off the truck, and located the nearest bus stop.

“This could go to Timbuktu, for all I know,” Eric laughed, as the bus pulled up.

Christian dropped in a handful of change to cover Eric, and showed his bus pass. “We need a transfer,” he told the driver, and passed Eric the blue slip of paper, before leading the way to an empty seat. “Not Timbuktu, downtown. From there we can catch a bus home. I'll pick you up a bus schedule on my way to work tomorrow. I'm around the city so much checking houses and stuff that I buy a bus pass every month. I think you can get one cheaper through the university, or you get one for free, or something.”

“I'll ask. What about Mark?”

“He walks just about everywhere. 'Course, he doesn't travel around nearly as much as I do, either. It's cheaper for him to just pay when he needs to.”

Christian's cell phone let out its singsong chirp to demand his attention; he fished it out of its holster. “'Sup?”

“Unless you want me to have a couple of pizzas delivered, we're pretty much looking at stirfry pork or burgers and fries. We're a tad low on groceries. Either way, we have nothing breadlike in the house. Which should I make?”

“Eric? Very basic pork stirfry from a frozen mix or homemade burgers and frozen fries? Sorry, neither of us is much of a cook.”

Eric shrugged. “Either. I'm not picky. Developed a weakness for Japanese food, but I'll eat just about anything. And I’m not a bad cook, I’ve been doing more and more of the meals and Gran taught me a lot.”

“Mark? Make whichever you feel like, and we'll stop and get fresh rolls and a loaf of bread on the way. Anything else?”

“Nope,” Mark said. “That's it.”

“We're almost at the downtown transfer point, we shouldn't be much longer.”

“I'll be here.”

“Gotta go.” He snapped the phone closed, returned it to its holster, and he and Eric got off the bus.

“Handy,” Eric said.

“Oh, the phone? Remind me to give you the number. I wander so much it's the only way to get ahold of me sometimes. I never thought having a phone I could take with me would be useful, but these days, I don’t think I could function without it. I promise we’ll try very hard not to take advantage too much of having someone in the house who can actually cook. There's the bus we want.”





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