Finally got back into town after several weeks of book signings. Of all the things I've done over the years, I thought becoming a writer of novels would be the least demanding. Boy was I wrong. Writing the books was one thing. I made my own hours, wrote when I felt like it, etc. That was all well and good. No one told me about the other half of the equation.
Finding an agent to represent me was a bit of an issue for a while, but I had time on my side and I eventually got one. Then having them pitch and find a publisher was a bit of a wait, but nothing I couldn't handle. Once we found one and their editors got a hold of the manuscript, then things started to change. Seeing my oh so wonderful pages come back covered in so much red I had to run to my 'supply room' just to make sure I hadn't spilled any bags on the pages without realizing it.
Mind you, the day I got to see my first book on the shelves at the bookstores and online, was a real thrill. It got even better when I found out it made the NY Times Besteller list. I was so proud. My hard work had paid off and I could sit back and relax while planning out the next installment in the series.
That's when reality decided to come knocking at my door, and it brought it's buddy 'The Learning Curve' along with it.
The demands for book signings and the interviews started pouring in. It wasn't easy getting people to understand I rarely do daytime appearances, and even those I keep short and sweet. I have to glut my cells with fresh blood in order to handle the exposure, even at a minimum. Unfortunately, this gives me a very 'pink' complexion that people often comment on. I usually tell them I got a bad sunburn the day before. Actually it's partly happening right at that moment, but I can usually last a few hours so long as I'm not in direct sunlight. I learned this little trick decades ago out on the battlefield, but I also learned the downside of too much blood and the nasty side effects it could have. It's a delicate balancing act, but I've learned how to maintain a balance.
Anyway, with the latest round of publicity for the newest installment of my 'Love Across Time' series out of the way, it felt good to come back here and spend time with my godchildren. Or rather, this particular set of godchildren. Lord knows I've got a number of them out there, including a few overseas.
But, Brian and his family are rather special to me. Their ancestors were friends of my family before I joined the Union Army. One of my best friends was David Weston. We fought and nearly died together several times. He became highly decorated and became my captain in time, or rather just in time. It was shortly after his promotion that I... became what I am. I confided in him what had happened and he helped keep my secret by assigning me to night duty and scouting missions.
When David fell at Gettysburg, I had myself listed among the fallen and came back here in secret to break the news to his widow Madeline, who was expecting at the time. She had braved the lines to be near him and had been sent back home after becoming pregnant. Upon hearing the news she went into labor and I was all she had available to help her with the delivery. Long story short, I managed to keep my own needs in check while I helped deliver the first of my many godchildren. Although, that boy, also became my step-son, two years later. But that's another story.
In any case, you can understand my attachment to this family, who also consider me one of their own. Especially, Brian's children Lisa and Geoffrey. In spite of a thirteen year difference, Lisa is very attached to her baby brother. Who sometimes attaches himself to me with a vengeance. Like tonight.
He's been well-behaved, but I couldn't help noticing how he keeps watching me intently. As if he's hoping for something, but is afraid to ask. I can't figure out what he wants though. I did the 'money-shake' thing with him as soon as I came in. He loves being turned upside down and watching coins suddenly rain down around him. I used to do it to his sister too, until she complained she was too old for that sort of thing. Too bad. I was going to start using dollar bills in her case. Oh well.
Anyway, we'd just finished dinner and were sitting in the living room when Geoffrey finally comes up to me and asks, "Are your feet going woof yet?"
It takes me a moment to realize what he means. I got into the habit of using a phrase from the 1930's to complain about being on my feet too much. The last time I did it in front of little Geoffrey, I'd used a little of my shape-shifting ability to produce two smaller versions of my 'Black Dogs' to play with him. Poor little guy is allergic to dogs, which is sad because he loves to play with them.
I smile and grab a blanket from nearby. After covering my legs with it I tell him, "As a matter of fact, my dogs are barking." Then I look down and he follows my gaze.
There is movement under the blanket and radiates down to where my feet would be. A moment later, two black puppy-shaped heads peak out from beneath the blanket.
Immediately, the boy's face lights up as they bark happily at him and pounce. Since they're smaller than what I usually produce, I was able to give them complete bodies this time. I let them detach from me so they can play with Geoffrey. As the three roll around on the floor together, Lisa comes to sit next to me. She knows I won't be able to move for a while, or at least until her brother gets tired and goes to bed, which will be in about an hour or so. I hope.
"Would you like to come with me to The Crypt tonight?" I ask her, knowing it will be all right with her parents. I checked with them earlier. "It's Friday so there's no school tomorrow."
"YES!" she cries excitedly and kisses me on the cheek.
As she takes off to get ready, I turn to Brian and his wife Mary, "Don't say I never give you any time off from your kids. Just make sure you enjoy yourselves. Maybe you can make me another godchild."
"No way," Mary replies archly, "I got my tubes tied after Geoffrey was born."
"Doesn't mean you can't enjoy going through the motions of making another one," I smile.
She blushes furiously, but I can tell the idea has a lot of appeal to her.
Behind her, I see Brian grinning broadly and mouth the words 'Thank you.'
I simply nod and continue to watch Geoff and the puppies at play. He'll be good and tired by the time they're done with him. The boy will sleep soundly tonight. An earthquake wouldn't be enough to wake him up.
It feels good being part of a family, every once in a while anyway. Maybe, one day, I'll even let myself settle down and stay put. The question is where?
My family homestead is nearby. I know it's just sitting there empty, waiting for me. The problem is that there might be another who's also waiting for me, within its walls. A person I made a promise to, that I failed to keep...