Sunday, March 23, 2014

Chapter 101: Addison Meanders Around a Blessing and a Curse

Sat, December 12, 2074 12:05 pm: Loganberry Cafe, Tolsbury, Pleasantview

"Mrs. Lothario? I'm sorry that I'm late." Addison thought it best to omit his excuses. He would have to lie if he made them, and that would taint an interpersonal dynamic that was already predisposed toward the antagonistic, whether Adelaide knew it or not. The truth was that he'd spent his entire morning straining over whether it was in his best interest to have lunch with Don Lothario's daughter. Worse, whether it was in his best interest to have lunch with Isabella Tellerman's sister. In the end, he was indebted to Don in such a way that he could only begin his repayment here, in this restaurant, where he might abide in the half-lit region that existed between friend and foe. Addison could chart that region with his eyes closed, but that didn't make the journey any more affable.

The woman sipping a bowl of soup in front of him looked up so slowly and so wearily that for a moment, he felt abashed. The thought crossed his mind that he must have had the wrong table. But the eyes were a tell, that somber green like the underside of a forest canopy. Adelaide had her father's savage good looks and her mother's statuesque poise. She could be no one else.

"Not at all. Thank you for accepting my invitation. I ordered you soup. Maybe that's a little strange, to order lunch for someone you've never met." Addison took the seat across from her. The delicate way that she patted her mouth with her napkin made him feel like a Townie, but if he was uncomfortable, he would not let it show.

"It is, but I won't hold it against you. And this is not our first meeting," he said, folding the cloth napkin in his lap.

"Oh! Isn't it?" Adelaide's stare widened as though she had been caught doing something wrong, but Addison was quick to grant her amnesty.

"It was during the final settlement of the Mortimer Goth estate." Having said that, he was instantly transported back to Dina's well appointed office at Pleasantview Motor Industries where he tried and failed to transfer ownership of Fiorello Vineyard to the crown. In the end, Ethelden wanted nothing to do with Arbormoor. To Addison's mind, those bat-eared dogmatists deserved whatever came to pass as the result of their lack of governance. Certainly, they were as much to blame for Kelly's death as Kvornan was, as much to blame as Primo Fiorello, as much to blame as Alexei Garrison, as much to blame as Addison himself.

"Good lord! I suppose I would've been in diapers." Adelaide's voice brought him back into the present. She was twirling her spoon around her fingers.

"You were a tough negotiator. And thank you for the soup. Incidentally, it's what I would have ordered anyway." Adelaide sat back, the tension having lessened somewhat. Her keen eyes sparkled.

"I don't believe you, but you still get credit for... I don't know. Graciousness, I suppose?" Addison shook his head and fiddled with the table cloth.

"No one has ever accused me of that before," he said.

"Accused? You make it sound like a fault."

"I'd prefer to think of myself as being earnest rather than gracious. Graciousness is too inorganic. It implies a certain amount of deceit. A truly stable individual has no need for such pretenses." Adelaide laughed, and it was a pretty sound. Addison could not remember the last time that he had been on the receiving end of such a look as she was giving him just then. Perhaps only Kelly had ever looked at him that way.

"Good lord, you sound like my mother. Graciousness as a sign of instability! But I confess, earnestness is not your reputation, Mr. London. Quite the contrary." Adelaide's amusement was a luminous thing to behold. He looked away, briefly. It was with some trepidation that he realized that he found this woman, this pregnant married woman whose sister he would so dearly like to see dead-- He found this woman desirable. This was the wrong decision. He should not have been here. It made his job more difficult to be here and gained him nothing.

"My reputation is built on the simple premise that most of my human interactions happen from the end of a boardroom table. I can permit myself to be earnest only if the company is suitably charming, and I mean that earnestly." He'd felt very foolish the instant that was said. These were the pitiful flirtations of a man old enough to be her father and so out of practice that she might really have been in diapers when last he seduced a woman. Such flirtations arose in a bubble of hope mingled with defeat and evaporated when they came into contact with air. "But I'm sure that you didn't ask me here for soup and graciousness." Adelaide trailed her finger along her collarbone.

"If I had, I might have been disappointed when you earnestly ordered the poached salmon salad," she said. Addison sat upright in his chair.

"Oh, they have that here? Waiter!" Adelaide folded her arms over her chest in mock disapproval.

"You know, my father never liked you."

"Not without good reason." He could sense her drifting away then. What she had said, she'd said in jest but there was a lot of history built up behind it. Addison wondered how much of it she knew. "I am very sorry for your loss." A pause. Adelaide shut her eyes briefly.

"Once, very long ago, he told me that if anything ever happened to him, I should come to you." That was news to Addison but when he thought about it, he realized that he had been waiting for Adelaide's call from the moment he found out about Don's death.

"I can't imagine why," he said.

"I think you can."

"I'm afraid I can't." His tone was gentle, coaxing. He hoped that she was intuitive enough to read it. This was a refusal, not a lie. Adelaide looked off, out of the window.

"Did you know that my dad ran five miles every other day, puffing away at as many cigarettes as he possibly could for the duration of the run? He made a game of it. I think his record was something in the environment of seventeen. I mean, can you imagine that? A man of his age?" Addison did not respond. This was not an innocuous anecdote, and he was not sure that he liked where the conversation was going. She was, after all, Isabella Tellerman's sister. He did not know what he had intended to tell her when he arrived at the restaurant, but it all suddenly seemed so unwise. In the balance of things, he would have preferred to have been asked about Bella Bachelor-Goth. Adelaide plowed on. "Dad rarely ate anything that wasn't drenched in fat and grease, and he left his doctor dumbfounded every time he went in for a physical. His health was remarkable. He never got sick, not even with a cold. Then, on a day just like any other, he just dropped dead. Is that how I'm going to go, standing on my patio in a bath robe? No warning, just poof and I'm gone?"

"I wish that we were all so lucky, Mrs. Lothario." Adelaide was crumbling. Her eyes welled with tears.

"He got into a lot of fights as a young man. He lost several adult teeth. And do you know what? They grew back. I'm not asking you to betray any state secrets, I just-- I need to know-- What are we? Some peculiar strain of partling?" God, anything but that. Addison breathed heavily through his nose. His resolve was giving way. It was better that she was properly informed rather than misinformed, especially because she was Isabella Tellerman's sister.

"No, no. Much more exceptional and beautiful and rare than that," he confessed. Adelaide pressed harder.

"What then?"

"There are so few of us that there isn't a name for it." Adelaide slumped back in her chair, and Addison leaned forward, lowering his voice to a whisper. "Every living thing, everything that has lived and will live has an essential energy. For normal people-- Your husband, your mother, even for Faes that energy can be changed. It can be created and yes, it can be destroyed. But you and I are as we will be and have ever been. It isn't magic. It's much older than that. The Faes call it Ken-Creliqu--"

"The Ecstasy." Adelaide had a far away look. Addison could not know what she was thinking, but he filed her reaction away for further consideration.

"That's right. It is the energy that was made when the Ka and the Ren first sated their thirsts for one another-- their tarshna, as the holy texts say. It is the beginning of all things, a blessing if the unsated tarshna of the Ba and the Sheut is respected, a curse if it is not." Adelaide remained preoccupied with her own thoughts. "Do you know where Jorge LeCroix lives," he asked. Adelaide blinked back to life.

"Sort of. I mean, he isn't really one of us." This was a different 'us' than they had been discussing a second before. It left a sour taste in his mouth. He was attracted to a married, pregnant, full caste young girl whose sister he dearly wanted to see dead. But luckily for him, his discomfort would never show. Addison pulled his wallet and pen from his pocket. He began scribbling Jorge's address on the back of a business card.

"Arbormoor Manor, I'll give you the address. Meet me there on Monday at quarter to one," he said.


"I teach better by example." Addison handed over the card. Adelaide flipped it over but did not seem to be reading it.

"You know, when I asked you what we were, I was referring to my father and I. I never once thought you and I," she said. "But I think you knew that." He did. He bowed his head.

"You were right when you said that your father never liked me. It was mutual, I never liked him either. But as long as we knew that the other one was around, well, we were never alone. You are not alone, Mrs. Lothario."


  1. Iiiiiiinteresting. I was wondering what was up with the Lothario/Fiorello bloodline. At first I'd just thought it had something to do with their ownership of the vineyard--like drinking that wine all the time had some effect, or simply being in that area for prolonged periods--but fixed energy states would probably be independent of that, especially if it's not just the family.

    Interesting interactions between Addison and Adelaide. It's weird to think of Addison having sexual feelings. He's always seemed more like the sort of strictly-business, force-of-nature, monument of a man whose offspring materialize at the will of his mind.

  2. OMG, that is so on the money about Addison! I never in a million years pictured him having the head space for romantic thoughts of any kind (err, at least not now but when he was Adelaide's age, it was a different story). Then I put him in a room with Adelaide, and bang! It just seemed so natural that that woman would turn his head. Not that I expect he would ever do anything about it. That's way too complicated. But of course, I may be speaking too soon here.

    And ah-ha! But what if that area (and anything that grows in it) has the ability to stabilize living energies? That would explain why Jon Smith-Tricou thought that it was the answer to Fricorith's condition. ;) Also, what if Addison's family has a connection to Arbormoor and to the Fiorello wine? What if the Dreamers do as well? More on this when DBL continues.