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“Are you sure you don’t want me to come with you and help you get settled in?” Yuki asked.
“Dad’s coming with me. I’ll be fine. You need to tie up your loose ends here before you come to Japan,” I insisted.
“Yeah, but just remember to skype me when you pick out apartments. I want to have a say in which room I get.”
“Blah blah blah,” I said, mocking him with my hand. “You’ll get whatever room I give you and like it!”
Yuki sighed. “Would now be a good time to tell you that my parents are overjoyed that I am moving in with you… even if it is all the way in Japan?”
“Your mom does know we are living together as roommates, in separate rooms, right?”
“Separate rooms and separate beds,” my dad said sternly, pulling his suitcase from the trunk. “I am not paying for you two to have a sex cocoon in Tokyo!”
“Ewwww, Dad! That’s gross!” I stuck out my tongue in mock disgust.
“Yeah, Mr. Nakamura, the term you’re looking for is Love Nest.”
My father paled and I believe I did too. “Dad, he’s kidding,” I quickly insisted.
My father leaned close to me. “We’ll buy an extra lock for your bedroom door,” he whispered.
“We could just get a better lock for the front door,” I offered.
Yuki rolled his eyes. “Seriously, I will be doing work there. I promise to act like a guardian and not let anything happen to her. I will see you both in a week.”
“Repeat, I am thirty-one and have lived on my own since I was twenty-four. I can adult!” I hugged Yuki and didn’t resist as he slid an envelope into my pocket. We had already discussed making sure my father wasn’t footing our bill, but Yuki wanted to make double sure. “Thanks,” I whispered into his ear. “See you soon.”
Yuki smiled and finished closing all the doors on my father’s SUV. “I promise not a scratch, sir,” Yuki vowed before getting back into the driver’s seat and leaving us in front of our terminal.
I turned and looked at the huge pile of suitcases. “Do I really need to take all this stuff? Can’t I just have you ship me what I need?”
“Trust your father, you need all this.” The way he said it told me there would be no arguments.
I picked up the carrier that had Demetri in it and Dad and I made our way to the ticket counter to check in. Seventeen hours later we touched down in Narita Airport just outside of Tokyo. The apprehension I thought I would feel wasn’t there – instead I was filled with excitement. “This is real,” I whispered to myself as I chased after my father on his way to immigration.
The next few days passed quicker than I would have liked. We managed to set up a bank account with the post office. I got SIM cards for myself and Yuki. I narrowed down apartments to my top three based on location, price, and how much I liked the place. After a couple heated discussions over skype, Yuki and I made a decision. The real estate agent seemed highly amused and kept calling us “the newlyweds” and chuckling with my father.
Friday night came. My father had plans with some old friends, so I was finally on my own. I saw him off, waited a full ten minutes, then pulled on my shoes and rushed down to the convenience store. I had been itching to go crazy and buy snacks and ramen, but when your father is a chef, cheap processed food isn’t an option.
Little plastic bag in hand, I made my way back to our Airbnb to feed Demetri and indulge in cheesy ramen and green tea-flavored chocolate, and wash it all down with melon soda. About halfway back I got the feeling I was being watched. I looked around without slowing my pace, but reached my free hand into my pocket and curled my fingers around my phone. A few steps away from the place we were staying, a man in a hoodie rushed passed me. He bumped my shoulder.
I started to stumble but he reached out to steady me. Most of his face was covered and I could only just make out the outline of his jaw. “Sumimasen,” he whispered before rushing off. I turned and watched him leave. He walked in the direction I had come from and I had a sudden urge to rush after him and tell him to be careful.
I headed inside and made extra sure to lock the door behind me. I fed Demetri, who was sulking that I had sentenced him to silence while my father was still here. “You can talk when he isn’t here,” I pointed out.
“Oh, her majesty will allow such things?”
“Look, if you don’t want the tuna, I can put it away,” I said, reaching for the can.
A paw with exposed claws swatted at me, followed by an angry hiss. “Touch it and I will shred everything you own,” he threatened.
I backed away and flopped on the couch, reaching for my ramen which should be ready by now. “It was weird, I felt like I was being watched when I came home from the convenience store.”
“You probably were,” he responded between bites.
I looked at him with alarm. “What?”
Swallowing the bite in his mouth, the small furball shifted his gaze to me. “You are here. You may not be actively vanquishing evil, but you have a powerful aura. I’m sure everything in the neighborhood is watching you with bated breath trying to figure out if you are a threat or not.”
“Am I in danger? Is my father in danger?” I said, glancing at the door.
“As long as they don’t think you are a threat, you should be fine.”
“Calm down, I have already contacted the local gatekeepers. They are cleansing and putting up a barrier at your new place before we even move in.” I knew his words were meant to calm my nerves, but it just made me feel more vulnerable now.
After I finished eating and disposing of the evidence I decided to turn in. Yuki would arrive tomorrow and I wanted a good night’s sleep if I had to handle both he and my father together for two days.
I read for a bit and fell asleep with the light still on. Between dreams, I heard my light click off and felt the blankets on me shift to cover me up. “Thanks dad,” I mumbled. A hand tucked a few strands of hair behind my ear. Through cracked eyelids I saw my father’s form in the doorway as he silently left the room.
I tugged the covers up higher and sank back into sleep, sleeping better now that I knew he had made it home safely.
When I next awoke, Demetri lay beside me on the bed, purring happily. I reached out and stroked his soft fur. “Awww, who’s a sweet kitty?”
“I am if it means you’ll feed me?” he implored.
“Didn’t my father feed you already?” I asked him, still petting his soft belly.
“He couldn’t have. He isn’t here.”
“Did he leave early this morning to go somewhere?” I asked.
“No, he didn’t come home last night. He sent you a text message around four am.”
I reached for my phone, and sure enough, he had sent me a message. I sat up quickly. “Demetri, who else was here last night?”
“Just you and me. Yuki doesn’t arrive until this afternoon,” he said, stretching.
“No, someone was here last night. They turned off my light and tucked me in. I thought it was my dad,” I explained, bordering on panic.
“Jordan calm down. You probably dreamed it and turned it off yourself. I would have sensed if anyone or anything besides us was here. Nothing was here.”
I stared at the bedside lamp for a long moment before deciding it was time to get up and get the day started. I messaged Dad to ask to meet at the café down the street for brunch before we went out to the airport to meet Yuki.
I finished opening the can and set it down on the floor beside the kitchen table. “It’s about time,” Demetri grumbled as he buried his face in the tuna.
I looked over at Yuki with concern. He was eyeing me and the cat suspiciously. “So he really talks?”
“Yup,” I admitted. I held out my hand to help him up. He eyed it cautiously before taking it. “I’m still the same Jordan you know and love. I just happen to have a talking cat now.”
Yuki stood up slowly and pulled me to stand behind him. “Are you sure he’s safe?”
“Why are you getting all protective now that I have fed him? Shouldn’t you have done this prior to sitting on the floor in shock?”
He turned his head and glared at me. “I’m sorry that my first reaction upon regaining my senses is to make sure you’re safe. You know, some women would think that’s chivalrous.”
“Let them be impressed,” I shrugged, pulling myself free of his grip and stepping around him. “He’s just a cat. A cranky, tuna-demanding, talking cat.”
Demetri sat back and pinned me with a look as he used his paw to clean the last of the tuna juice off his face. “I am not just a cat. I was sent here to find you and bring you back to Japan with me. You are just choosing not to cooperate.” The cat slid his attention to Yuki. “You, human! You seem mildly familiar, have we met before?”
Yuki looked from me to Demetri. “That depends, did you talk when we met before? If we did, then it wasn’t me. If you only made cat noises, we might have met before.” Yuki seemed to be relaxing and moved closer. “Why is it so important she goes to Japan?”
“She has a destiny to fulfill. We have a plan for her,” the small furball declared.
“I don’t buy into the whole destiny crap,” I said flatly.
Yuki looked back at me in shock and amusement. “Maybe you are some long-lost moon princess sent here to save the world in a time of crisis,” he mused.
“I doubt that. It’s probably something lame, like I have the power to pick out the best can of tuna from the shelves and talking cats everywhere want to make me their goddess,” I joked.
Yuki laughed. “You spin around and point at cans at the market saying things like, ‘Blue label select, I choose you!’ or sneak up behind displays and tackle them to the ground…” His laughter was infectious and we were both overtaken with a fit of giggles.
Demetri sat and stared at us disapprovingly. “If you two are done?”
“Wait!” I yelped, throwing up a hand. “They need me to pilot a giant robot against attacking space pirates.” Further laughter ensued.
Demetri cleared his throat. “What if I told you the stories about moon princesses, giant robots, space pirates, and magical cards were all true?”
“I would say bullshit,” I answered with a nod.
“Up until very recently, neither of you believed in talking cats, but here we are,” Demetri argued.
Both of our laughter trailed off as we exchanged glances. Talking cats were impossible…. as impossible as magic, demons, and space aliens. But there he was, right in front of us, making snide comments and lashing his tail.
As the shift in my reality sobered me up, I asked the big question. “Why me? Why specifically me? I don’t want some non-committal, detail-lacking answer. Destiny and fate are BS. If you need me that bad, there is something specific about me that makes me the girl you are looking for.”
“We believe you have the ability to see things that exist around us that most people can’t see. What’s more, we’re pretty sure you can interact with, create, and destroy those unseen things. This gift makes you special.” Demetri hopped up on the table.
“Who is we?” asked Yuki.
Demetri huffed. “I work for an organization that oversees the gates between existences.”
“So why do you need me to go to Japan? Can’t I just fight here?”
“You know how Japan is an island?” the cat asked. We both nodded. “Think of it more like a lid. It’s out there in the water serving as a lock, or a lid, on a bunch of different gates. We had no clue humans were going to settle on it and build a civilization.”
Yuki looked at me. “Great, you know what this means?” I shook my head. “Space cats!” We both burst out laughing again.
His angry hiss snapped us back to reality. “Sorry,” we mumbled in unison.
“What’s the story with you two?” Demetri finally asked.
“What do you mean?”
“He means we seem really close and he wants to know why,” Yuki explained.
“Oh, the parent trap question?” I clarified and Yuki gave a nod. “Should I handle this?”
“He’s your cat…”
I took a deep breath before I began. “My father is a chef, and after he had completed the first half of his training in France, he went back to Japan. He worked as a Sous chef in a small western-style restaurant in Tokyo. My mom was an English teacher in Japan at the time. She was supposed to be on a date, but the guy stood her up. Everybody at the restaurant was too afraid to talk to her since she was a foreigner, so a member of the wait staff went and got my dad from the kitchen, knowing that at the very least his French was pretty good.”
Yuki pulled out a kitchen chair and motioned for me to take a seat before he, himself sat down. “I love your parents’ story,” he said with a gleam in his eye.
“Anyway, Dad went out to talk to her and found out she was stood up. He needed her to leave so they could free up the table, or to order something to eat. He felt pretty bad about what had happened, and being a nice guy told her she should order something and he would pay for it. When she didn’t know what to order, he asked what she wanted and she said ‘grilled cheese and tomato soup’, which he made special for her. After that, they would get together once a week under the guise of helping my father with his English so he could train more in North America. Eventually, my mom was moving back, and my dad decided to go with her, and they got married.”
“Ok… but how does this explain you and pointy-hair, pretty boy?” Demetri prompted.
“Aww, he thinks I’m pretty,” Yuki cooed.
“My dad was able to get a job at a fusion restaurant in Hartford. When we moved into the suburbs, there were only two other Japanese families in town. One was an older couple whose kids had already grown up, and the other family was the Takahashi family, who had twin boys a year older than me. My mom didn’t have problems making friends, but my Dad worked really long hours and still hadn’t mastered English, so he welcomed having a set of friends his age that spoke his native language. Since they were my parents’ friends, it only made sense that Yuki, Itsuo, Nate, and I would all grow up together as friends too.”
“Wait, so you’re a twin?” asked Demetri, turning his attention to Yuki. “There are two of you?”
My heart beat heavily at the cat’s question, but Yuki took over. “There were two of us until eight years ago. Jordan and my brother were in an accident with a drunk driver. Jordan survived but Itsuo didn’t. When we were growing up, Itsuo and Jordan were much closer than she and I were. My brother and I were really close, but we weren’t much alike. Itsuo was more outgoing, and believe it or not, I was pretty quiet.”
Yuki’s voice cracked and I reached over and took his hand without a second thought. “When Itsuo died Yuki and I became closer because it felt like each of us was missing our other half. We tried dating, and it didn’t exactly go so well. He drove off with my purse and left me stranded in California.”
“After she got drunk and made out with a couple different people, then refused to apologize for it,” Yuki added.
“I can’t apologize for something I don’t remember,” I bit back.
“Children, focus!” snapped the cat. “Anyway, I think I get the picture. You’re still friends but at times it is a little… strained?”
“Exactly!” I was quick to agree.
Demetri gave us a look that felt a little judgy but said nothing else on the subject. “Yuki here thinks you going to Japan is a good idea. You trust him, so why not go?”
Yuki cut in. “Actually, I thought it was a good idea until I heard about the giant robots, space pirates, and monsters.”
“I never mentioned monsters,” Demetri retaliated.
“Are there monsters?”
“Of course there are…”
“Yeah, I’m leaning more towards no now that I have all the details,” Yuki said firmly.
“Look, I’ve gone to great lengths to bring her back to Japan with me on good terms. She can go willingly, or the next guardian who comes won’t be as nice,” the cat said. “Just agree to it and pack up. This way you get to do a job you want to do.”
“Can I at least think about it?” I finally asked.
“I have to give a status report by Friday. You can have until then. After that, it will be out of my paws.”
Yuki and I exchanged glances. “Would you run away with a talking cat?” I asked.
“Is that an invitation?”
A cool chill blows across a forgotten keyboard. The ghostly sounds of keystrokes fill the air. “What could this be?” you hear yourself ask in a whisper that doesn’t sound like your voice.
Snow Pixie came out today for the Kindle. I am super excited to offer it first on Amazon Kindle. The hard copies will be available next week. Thank you all for those who have pre-purchased the book. I really hope you enjoy Suzy and Quint’s story as much as I enjoyed writing it.
As promised each Friday leading up to the release I will be posting a chapter of Snow Pixie. No part of this post or blog may be reproduced without written consent from Author Isabelle Saint-Michael or Elven Life Productions President M. Kat Thomas. Thank you for reading.
We arrived at Justin’s “cousin’s” home shortly after leaving the hospital. The home had actually been a piece of property Markus Kringle, the current Santa and Justin’s uncle, had acquired almost one hundred years ago in the city of Chicago because he got a good deal on it. Since then paper had changed hands to make sure it passed down through the family every decade or so.
Even now the Victorian brownstone was well maintained. Dark hardwood steps and banisters leading to the floors above gave it a warm feeling. Of course, Joy visiting each year to decorate it helped too. Reaching out, I gripped the back of a green overstuffed couch and smiled. It was the closest thing to home I had known for the last century before I fell asleep. Before that I stayed in drafty boarding houses each year.
“So where have you been all this time?” Justin asked, breaking my train of thought.
“I wish I knew. I just sort of popped into existence yesterday. I was expecting it to be nineteen fifty-four, not two thousand sixteen,” I explained.
“What happened all those years ago? We all expected to see you at the show Christmas Day, and when we arrived you were nowhere to be found.” His concern shone in his eyes. “We spent months looking for you.”
I thought about the question long and hard. “I thought Jerry was the one,” I answered simply.
“Your skating partner?” Justin asked as he ducked into the kitchen. I heard the sounds of clicking and clanking before he returned with a tray of cookies and tea. Walking into the living room, he set the tray down on the table and patted the couch seat beside him.
“You are so much like your mother it is as if Lucus didn’t play any part in making you,” I teased.
Flashing me a smile that showed off his dimples, which more than a few women found swoon-worthy, brought back happy memories. With a shrug he handed me a cup. “I think I’m all right with that.”
I laughed despite myself. I already felt lighter. “Yes, I thought Jerry was the one,” I said, and suddenly my memories turned sad and bitter. “He wasn’t though. That became painfully clear.”
I nodded. “He didn’t even show up.”
“That’s horrible. We didn’t know. I should have suspected something when he said he hadn’t seen you and then introduced us to his fiancé from the chorus line.” Justin’s face was a mask of concern.
“Brunette, red lips, and legs up to the sky?” I asked.
“Honestly, I don’t really remember,” he offered apologetically. “I think we all just assumed you had decided to spend Christmas elsewhere at the news your partner was engaged. Then year after year you didn’t come back.”
“I faded from public memory and soon from all of yours,” I finished his statement.
“Hey now, I never forgot you. The Kringles never forget anyone. It is both our gift and burden,” he said finally with a heavy sigh. His eyes turned apologetic as he stared at me. “So what really happened?”
“I went to my father and explained I had a challenger for my heart. Someone kind who would gladly resist the chill,” I shrugged. “He never came. I waited and he never came for me. I went looking for him and found him with her. So I left. I went and found my father, and told him I was done feeling. I was done with pain. I had him turn my heart to ice and then I shattered it.”
Justin stared at me slack-jawed. “So you are walking around without a heart? You mean figuratively, because last I checked everyone needs a heart. It’s why driving a stake through Vampires will kill them. Nobody survives without one.”
“The Winters do. Surely you’ve heard that Winter has no heart?” I pointed out.
“Yeah, but they mean the season, not the person,” he retorted.
“Oh, go suck on a jingle bell! There is no winter without my family. Just like there is no Christmas or Yule without the Kringles,” I couldn’t help but snap.
“Actually, there is both a Christmas and a Yule without us. We had nothing to do with either of those. We just add to the season.” He said it with such a matter-of-fact tone I felt like flicking him in the forehead.
“You know what I mean,” I argued.
“So, you’re heartless. Is that what made you so cranky? Shouldn’t you be all emotionless?” he asked.
“I don’t know, according to you I should be dead.”
“You should be! If your heart was destroyed, you should be dead. I totally believe that there is a magic that would allow you to remove it and even freeze it to keep from aging, but destroying it should kill you. I mean, it kills Vampires and they’re nigh indestructible. It even kills Dragons. How can a Pixie not die?” Justin had stood up and cleared the teacups. Somewhere in all this chatting I had consumed cookies and tea without noticing.
“Snow Pixies aren’t real Pixies. We’re Elementals. You know that!”
Then Justin did what he did best. He defused everything with a warm chuckle and a big hug. “You get so wound up. I’m just glad to see you back.”
“Hmmpfff,” I responded, crossing my arms.
“Well what do you say we get you settled in to this new world, then we can worry about everything else? Do you want to stay here or the Pole?” he asked, clapping his hands together.
I took a deep breath through my nose and exhaled slowly. Taking my time I looked around the brownstone and ran my fingers over the many smooth wood panels. “I think I belong here. I can do the Harbinger job from here.”
Justin suddenly looked uncomfortable. “What’s wrong?” I asked.
“We have a Harbinger,” he explained.
“Really? Is Jack finally helping out?” I asked hopefully. It would be wonderful to see my brother.
“No, not so much. He’s been preoccupied. His oldest just started university this year.”
“Wait, my brother? Jack Frost? Mr. I’m-never-settling-down, I’m as frozen as father, has children?” I couldn’t believe what I was asking.
“Yup. He met a nice girl about twenty years ago and settled down. They have three daughters,” Justin couldn’t help but give one of his goofy grins when he told me.
“Wow! What about Dad?” I was compelled to ask.
“I don’t know lately. I haven’t seen him in over ten years. It was when Gwen and I broke up. Uncle Mark and Dad both see him a couple times a year. I’m sure I would know if anything was wrong.” Justin reached for another cookie but he stopped instantly at the sound of a new voice.
“Don’t you dare! You had to suck it in at your last tux fitting. If I have to avoid cookies for the next several weeks, so do you.” A warm but firm female voice snapped at him from the doorway. Justin dropped the cookie back on the plate like he’d snuck it out of Grandma’s cookie jar.
I turned to look at the owner of the voice that could successfully command Justin Kringle to do anything. Short and curvy with a long tangled mess of chocolate-brown curls stood a woman that could only be “the fiancé”. I smiled and stepped forward, extending my hand. “Hi, you must be Justin’s fiancé?”
At first she stared at it and I was afraid I had offended her. Then with what appeared to be a sniff in my direction she relaxed noticeably and took my hand. “Yes, I’m sorry. I’m Grace. I hope I didn’t scare you. Justin has gained almost ten pounds in the last month and it is enough to make his tuxedo pull.”
Despite myself I laughed and shot him a mocking look. “You’re not supposed to start working on the Santa physique until you are officially promoted.” Grace snorted beside me.
“How do you know I haven’t been?” he said, shifting back and forth from foot to foot.
“Easy, you would have sent someone else to check on me. Santa is way too busy this time of year. Honestly, I’m surprised you have time with the Holidays rapidly approaching, and from the sounds of it, a wedding,” I pointed out.
“True, I am busy, but I couldn’t just let someone you didn’t know come.”
Grace wrapped an arm around his waist and gave him an affectionate squeeze. “I wouldn’t want one of my friends waking up after a sixty year nap and not seeing anyone they knew.”
“You’re both sweet, but I’ll be all right. I just need to get to a bank and then call back Officer Flynn so I can give him a statement. Can one of you tell me where I can get a ‘sell’ phone and what I do with it once I get it?” I reached for the little gold bag that Justin had handed me.
The two of them engaged in a quick discussion composed of only meaningful glances before looking back at me. Grace turned to Justin. “Why don’t you head back to the Pole? I’ll stay and help Susan get settled in.”
“Suzy,” I said, correcting her.
Grace blinked at me. “I’m sorry?”
“Call me Suzy. This time of year I’m Suzy Snowflake,” I explained.
Grace looked back and forth between Justin and I. When he nodded she shrugged and looked back at me. “Like Suzy Snowflake the song? ‘Here comes Suzy Snowflake dressed in a snow white gown’…” she started singing.
“Yes, Rosemary Clooney sang that after meeting me at a club one night People loved it.” I laughed at the memory of getting tipsy and frosting all our martinis.
“Ok, Suzy Snowflake it is. If you wouldn’t mind my company, I would be happy to help you get settled in.”
As promised each Friday leading up to the release I will be posting a chapter of Snow Pixie. No part of this post or blog may be reproduced without written consent from Author Isabelle Saint-Michael or Elven Life Productions President M. Kat Thomas. Thank you for reading.
The next time I awoke it was to the grinding pain of the worst headache I could remember ever having. The throbbing started at the back of my head and radiated down my neck, into my chest, and then out from there. Beside me there was a steady beep from some kind of machinery. I flexed all the muscles in my body, only to realize my fingers were wrapped tightly around something. It made them tingle and sent a feeling of warmth spreading through my body.
I turned my head to take a closer look and immediately regretted it. The entire room rocked and I let out a groan. “Oh good, you’re awake,” came a groggy voice beside me. I forced my eyes open to stare into the face of the officer from earlier. “How do you feel?” he asked, reaching to grip my hand with both of his.
My pulse spiked and the beeping to my left grew faster. It was then I suddenly realized the beeps matched the beat of my heart and I began looking around cautiously, trying to avoid moving my head. I shouldn’t have a pulse. Why do I have a pulse? Clearing my throat, I met his gaze. “I feel like…” I caught myself. Pain. I hurt? “My head hurts,” I told him. “Where am I?” I asked.
“You’re at Northwestern Memorial Hospital,” he explained. “When you fell you hit your head quite hard. I didn’t realize you were injured until I saw the blood on the ice.” I shivered and he cut himself off. “Are you cold? I can get you another blanket.”
I waved my free hand. “No, it’s all right, I don’t really feel the cold.”
“Ah, because you are a figure skater,” he said, brandishing the excuse as if it were the missing puzzle piece that completed an unknown picture. Humans could and would believe anything that didn’t challenge their views of the real world.
“Exactly,” I confirmed.
Just then a doctor came in the room and gave us the once-over. “Excuse me officer, I came to check on the patient.” The doctor’s eyes slid over to me. He was a middle aged man whose skin was even darker than that of the gentleman beside me. “Miss, I’m Doctor Jacobs. Officer Flynn brought you in after you sustained trauma to the back of your head. Do you remember the accident?”
I paused and thought about what Dr. Jacobs was asking. “I fell on a patch of ice at the bottom of some stone stairs.”
“When Officer Flynn found you, you weren’t wearing shoes or a coat. You fled the scene of a crime. Do you remember any of that?” he asked, politely waiting for me to process the memory.
“Yes, a man held me at gunpoint and demanded I give him my wallet and cell phone.” Out of the corner of my eye I could see Officer Flynn nodding alongside me in confirmation.
“We were unable to find any identification on you, but we were able to locate a small purse with what appeared to be a business card inside. We contacted the Justin Kringle listed on the card in hopes that he could help identify you. Do you know him personally?” the good doctor asked.
I smiled. “Yes, I’ve known Justin since he was a kid. He’s a close friend,” I explained. I was startled when Officer Flynn’s grip tightened on my hand for a split second, but I did my best to avoid showing it by averting my gaze.
“All right then, would you mind answering a few questions for us then, so we can get your information?” he asked as he leaned down, shining a light in my eyes.
“Isn’t that what we’ve been doing?” I asked.
Doctor Jacobs stopped suddenly and stared hard at me. “Well yes, I suppose it is.” Stepping away he scribbled a note on a clipboard before turning his attention back to me. “What is your full name?”
“Susan Ross,” I answered.
“And your birthday, Miss Ross?” he asked politely.
“January first,” I answered.
“The year?” he prompted.
“Doctor, it is poor form to ask a lady her age!” I said with a huff.
Dr. Jacobs looked confused and I could hear Officer Flynn chuckle beside me. The sound made my insides feel like they were glowing with warmth. “Miss Ross, I must insist that you provide us with the information we need.” I started to argue but a knock at the door halted our conversation.
A deep male voice said, “Excuse me, is this the room for Susie Ross?” We all turned our focus to the man in the doorway.
Standing at about five foot ten, with shoulders broad enough to almost fill the doorway, stood Justin Kringle. His eyes sparkled mischievously, and his long sandy colored braid tumbled down his back. Dressed in a plaid flannel shirt, jeans, a navy blue pea coat, and a pair of duck boots, it was hard to believe this was the kid that had stolen Santa’s sleigh for a joy ride. “Justin!” I chirped happily.
He shuffled into the room and shook hands with the doctor before coming over to stand beside me. Clearing his throat he handed me a gold purse. “I stopped by the rink and picked up your things. It took me a while to find them, otherwise I would have been here sooner,” he said apologetically.
I unzipped the purse and pulled out what appeared to be a wallet. I fumbled through the brightly colored plastic cards within before pulling out what I assumed was my identification. Susan Creasting Ross. DOB: January 1st, 1986. “EIGHTY-SIX,” I squawked loudly as I crunched numbers in my head. With this new information I realized I must have been gone over sixty years.
The doctor, Officer Flynn, and Justin all looked at me with confusion. Grimacing, I apologized. “Sorry, I just realized how old I was getting.” Understanding lit Dr. Jacobs’s face and he scribbled the missing information down on the clipboard. Justin nodded along with Officer Flynn as if getting the joke. Sighing heavily, I handed the identification over to Dr. Jacobs and settled my gaze on Justin. “It’s been a really long time. I’m sorry that this was the reason for us getting back in touch.”
Justin waved away the apology. “A good friend is like good wine. It doesn’t matter if you enjoy them every day or only once in a while – it is still good.” His eyes sparkled with memories. He leaned over to the doctor and waved him to follow him out into the hall to speak. Justin, like any good Kringle, had a powerful gift of suggestion when it came to Humans. That’s why children always told Santa what they wanted for Christmas and how he knew if they were naughty or nice.
Officer Flynn still sat beside me with my hand in his. When he cleared his throat, I jumped. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you. Once you’re discharged, would you mind coming down to the station so we could get your statement?”
“Do I really need to, or could I give it here?” I asked, not wanting to linger. I had a lot to get caught up on if I had been gone since the mid-fifties.
“I suppose I could take it here. We will still need you to come down to the station but I guess…” I cut him off by pulling my hand free of his and causing the beeping machine beside the bed to let out a high-pitched sound.
I looked around frantically as the doctor and several nurses came rushing back into the room. “Quick, check the patient,” said Dr. Jacobs before he saw me sitting up and blinking at him. Reaching over, he switched off the machine. “Miss Ross?”
I shrugged at him. “I’m sorry, I’m not sure what I did.”
Dr. Jacobs reached for my hand to find the clip on my finger was still in place. “Hmmmm, it must be faulty equipment. When they first brought you in, you didn’t have a pulse, but seemed to be breathing without any problems. Officer Flynn here helped us move you because we were concerned we were going to have to take action, and sure enough your heartbeat showed up.”
“Technology, what are you going to do?” I said, hoping I sounded more confident than I felt.
Dr. Jacobs chuckled and reached for his stethoscope. “I should still check, then we can start the discharge paperwork.” As he leaned in close to me I reached back and quickly grabbed Officer Flynn’s hand. I heard him gasp a little at my forwardness, but he gave it a warm squeeze.
Once again the sound of my heart pumped in my ears and I could explain neither it, nor the warmth that spread through me just touching the officer’s hand. The cold stethoscope touched my skin and I inhaled a deep breath. Normally cold sensations didn’t faze me, but they had been since I arrived back in this waking world.
“How’s she sound, Doc?” asked Justin from behind Dr. Jacobs. His eyes were intense on mine.
The good doctor laughed and lowered his device. “She sounds healthy as can be. If you’ll excuse me, I will have a nurse in here to get her on her way shortly.” With that the doctor promptly left.
I turned back to look at Officer Flynn, who now had his fingers laced between my own. “I think I would like to go get changed. Thank you for bringing me here and making sure I was taken care of.” He gave me a nod before I tossed my feet over the side of the bed. I started to stand up, but the clip on my finger slowed my process. Pulling my finger free, I began searching for the skating dress I had been brought here in.
The officer cleared his throat. “They were afraid you might have taken internal damage of some sort. I believe they cut your dress off. I can go check and see if I can find you something in the gift shop?” he offered.
Justin stepped forward, handing me a bag. “I wasn’t sure what the case would be, but I grabbed one of Grace’s outfits and brought it with me,” he explained. I made a mental note to ask who Grace was before nodding and heading towards the bathroom.
I unzipped the bag Justin had been smart enough to bring and pulled out the clothes within. I tugged on the jeans, which clung to my legs but gapped at the waist. I then pulled on a camisole and a thick grey sweater. I swam in the sweater, but it was clean and smelled like cinnamon and honey. Giving the mirror one more look, I worked my fingers through my hair and freed it from the remains of the braid and bun. The doctors must have pulled part of it down to look at my injury because it was a total mess. Sighing heavily, I turned back to the door.
As I started to push it open I could hear Officer Flynn and Justin speaking. “I’ve known Suzy forever. We met when I was still a kid.”
“She seems like she spooks easily,” Officer Flynn said with concern. “She doesn’t seem like she’s from around here, nor do you for that matter.”
Justin chuckled. “Oh, I have family that lives in the area. Suzy has been to Chicago quite a bit over the years. She skates here every winter. She’s better then Sonja Henie,” he said with a laugh.
“Better than who?” asked Officer Flynn.
Justin laughed again and apologized. “Sorry, she was a figure skater a long time ago. Suzy used to enjoy watching her old movies when we were kids.”
“Oh, gotcha. Uh, I have a question and it may not be appropriate. If it is out of line, I apologize,” Officer Flynn said, almost hesitant.
Justin didn’t give the police officer a chance to ask anything. “There is nothing between us but friendship. I’m getting married this Christmas. Suzy and I really are just friends.”
“How did you? I mean… was it that obvious?”
“I just happen to notice things others don’t.” Justin started to say something else but I pushed the door open, trying to pull on the shoes that were in the bag. Both men looked at me, a bit startled. “Do you need help with those?” Justin asked.
“No, I’m fine,” I said, quickly snapping to an upright position. The entire world swam around me and I grabbed the wall for support. Both men rushed forward but I held up a hand to stop them. “Just a bit woozy still,” I assured them.
“I should get you back to my cousin’s place so you can rest. The nurse said it’s been over twelve hours, so you should be okay to sleep,” he explained.
I turned my eyes to Officer Flynn, suddenly processing the new information. “How long was I out?”
He shrugged. “It was about four yesterday afternoon when we brought you in. It’s about nine in the morning now. You’ve been awake for about an hour or so now.” He looked at his watch and visibly had to think. “About sixteen hours give or take. Sorry, I’m a little tired, so my math skills aren’t up to par.”
“You stayed here all night?” I asked.
“Yeah, it just seemed like the right thing to do since we couldn’t find any next of kin or anything. Nobody should wake up in a hospital room alone without knowing why they are there.” He offered me a warm smile, revealing two rows of perfect white teeth.
“Thank you, that was very kind of you,” I told him.
Reaching forward, he squeezed my shoulder and I felt warmth spreading through my body again. Why his touch had such a reaction on me I wasn’t sure, but it was rather unnerving. “I’ve got all your contact info from Justin and if you wouldn’t mind, I would like to stop by this evening and take your statement.”
I looked at Justin, who gave me a slight nod, and agreed.
As promised each Friday leading up to the release I will be posting a chapter of Snow Pixie. No part of this post or blog may be reproduced without written consent from Author Isabelle Saint-Michael or Elven Life Productions President M. Kat Thomas.
The first sound I could hear was the beating of my heart. That wouldn’t have been so alarming if I had heard my heart beat anytime in the last sixty years. My heart didn’t beat. It couldn’t. That would imply that I had a heart to begin with.
The first sense I experienced when I awoke was always the same – smell. The scent of winter was distinct but very faint as the first of its familiar chills ran down my back. Then, like the winds of a hurricane, the icy blast hit me full force, causing me to suck in a breath at the shock of it. Balling my hands into fists, I cautiously opened one eye and then the other. Another gust hit me and made my silvery white hair dance around my face.
The sparkle of a sequin caught my eye and I looked down with a groan. “How could I have forgotten what I was wearing last?” I chastised myself.
“Excuse me miss, are you all right?” asked a concerned voice from behind me.
Whirling around on my heel I came face to face with an older gentleman dressed in a long brown coat. His hat was pulled low, covering the tops of his ears. The brim shadowed his eyes and the red scarf around his neck did its best to protect his lower face from the brutal wind.
Taking a deep breath, I plastered on my biggest smile and met his gaze. “Yes sir, just fine. I just needed a moment to collect myself.”
The man shifted his gaze left then right as if he were nervous. “I’m glad to hear that. Now, give me your wallet and cell phone,” he said, removing a pistol from the folds of his jacket.
“Why would I do that? And what is a cell phone?” I queried as I cocked my head at the gun pointing at me.
“Listen Miss, I don’t want to hurt you, so just hand over your wallet and phone and I’ll get out of here,” he told me again. He looked entirely too shaky for me to be comfortable with the gun in his hand.
“Sir, I’m not sure who you think I am, but I don’t have a wallet on me, or a cell phone?” I tried to assure him. As if to explain, I swept my eyes down towards my clothing. I was standing at the edge of a river wearing a glittering white skating dress. “Quite frankly, I’m not sure where I would keep it,” I said flatly.
His eyes shifted to my chest and he waved the pistol in the direction of my breasts. “You could have them tucked in there.”
“Of all the nerve!” I snapped, my temper flaring.
“Freeze, Chicago PD!” boomed an authoritative voice. We both turned to stare as two uniformed police officers moved closer with their guns drawn. “Let the lady go,” called the closest officer.
My assailant lowered his gun. I wasted no time standing around to be questioned. Without a word I began walking up the path the officers had come from, refusing to make eye contact with either of them. When I reached the top of the small embankment I forced myself into a run.
Rushing through the busy streets, I just barely noticed the peculiar style of dress people were wearing. I ducked around a corner and quickly flew down a set of stone steps. I would have been fine if not for a patch of ice at the bottom.
How embarrassing, I thought to myself as I twisted in the air and watched my bare feet suddenly appear overhead. “Oh frostbite!” I swore, connecting hard with the ground below and getting the breath knocked out of me.
The sound of running feet I hadn’t heard before now slowed, and before I could right myself, a strong arm slid under my shoulders and helped me sit up. “That was quite the fall. Are you all right?” asked a voice that was velvety and kind.
I turned my head to let the owner of the voice know I was unharmed only to find myself speechless. Staring back at me were two dark eyes the color of chocolate, framed beneath black, perfect brows. It took me a moment to notice the accompanying uniform and hat. This must have been one of the police officers from earlier. Shaking my head, I was forced to blink a few times to remember how to speak. “Yes, I’m all right. I think I’m just shaken up.”
“I figured as much when you took off from the crime scene. You really shouldn’t leave until an officer has had a chance to speak with you,” he explained, his eyes still running over me with concern. When they came to my bare feet his brows furrowed. “Where are your shoes?”
“I don’t know,” I answered honestly.
Taking the hand he held out in offering, I pulled back, startled, when I felt my pulse race at his touch. Stamping down the surprise I gripped his hand again, this time ignoring the sound of my pounding heart in my ears. As I was pulled to my feet and began to look around, I felt my stomach flip, and my vision went blurry. I gripped the officer’s hand tighter and threw my other arm around his neck. I heard him calling to me as my head swam and the world became darker and darker around me.
Just before I lost all consciousness I realized something. I felt different. I felt different in a way I had almost forgotten existed. I felt warm.
Yep, you read it correctly. This year Elven Life will be transitioning from the website to Amazon. You may be wondering what that means for readers. Well, we are going back to the very first post and overhauling them. Little mistakes like the spelling of names will become consistent. Some of the unanswered questions I left floating out there will be answered. Oh, and did I mention new content?
So get ready. The Elven Life Chronicles are coming.
I know it has been a long time since last we spoke and you are very curious what has befallen Kat and the others. I want to tell you but I can’t. In summer of 2015 a company in India started plagiarizing my work. At the time we handled the situation the best we could. We then were informed of it again this past fall with the same group.
I do write books that I charge for but I have always wanted to offer and ongoing story for my fans free. I make so little on my writing as it is. It is truly a labor of love. I will not however standby and allow others to take credit for MY work and the efforts of my team.
This along with a change in copyright status for international writers has thrown a HUGE kink into my writing and publishing. Also, as of this past January, Lisa, Kenzi and I have decided to end our relationship with Otherworld Romance and will be publishing all future works under our own label.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank all of your words of encouragement and concern. Your emails, letters, and posts have meant the world to us and while we may be down at the moment we are certainly not out. You can bet on us.
Isabelle, Kenzi and Lisa