Chapter 6

Another component that's lasted throughout the ages of mysticism and oral history is the protective properties of Silver. Hollywood and the Dark Ages specify silver as protection against werewolves, or revealing the true nature of other supernatural boogeymen.

But throughout history there have been accounts of small bits of silver or silver coins being used against curses, repelling evil spirits and even protecting against poisoning.

Again, this is seen in all cultures, even those that have nothing to do with each other.

One thing about silver that is not generally covered is that it burns.

-GW: Silver and Salt

Nine months previous...

Elizabeth had never been one to take any advice given at face value, so the day after James had helped her with her worries and fears for Ed while he was still in Portland, she took the time to do some (a tonne of) research into the superstitious hoodoo mysticism that James had been so hesitant to talk about.

She understood why there was some hesitation; most people would dismiss the advice as nonsense straight off the cuff and possibly had called the police for a wellness check or a psychiatric hold.

But the more that she looked into it, digging deep into the online forums and pagan websites, and slogging through dozens and dozens of pages on folklore origins; the more she found small bits of evidence that maybe some of the stuff she was reading was true, even if partially.

There was a saying somewhere about myths and legends once being truth in ages past, she was sure of it. Couldn't remember exactly how it went, though.

Salt had been used almost since the dawn of man in a variety of rituals throughout the eons; practically since the dawn of time, and was one of the most valued aspects of any pagan religion, often being cited for its beneficial uses in protection spells and charms and being spiritually pure, able to turn away the most vicious of evil.

Silver was right up there in high regard, too, and was used in a wide variety of things concerning the occult. She was going to have to deeper into all of this, because it was looking like most of the things that caught her interest was more along the lines of something called kitchen magic, which was far more practical than storybook wands and mystical sounding spell words.

Most of the things she was reading dealt in luck and protection against evil intent, but hell, she was at a loss about to give Ed an edge if he did come across whatever was stalking him and iron and silver would burn on contact if it was supernatural in nature. Or that's what the internet said.

Elizabeth snorted rather inelegantly. She knew better than to trust what she read on the web, but most of the stuff she did read had verifiable sources. It would take time to go through and verify it all, more time than she had if she wanted to help Ed even just a little, but it was a start, and it was enough for now.

She still had hours and hours before her daily phone call with Ed, and some of her research had gone on about certain plants that were very beneficial in spiritual protection. None of the plants would look conspicuous in her garden, either, which was a plus.

She was always looking for a new project for her backyard garden and the conservatory Ed had helped her to build, and pagan garden was a perfect opportunity.

Honestly though, Elizabeth had no idea what she was doing, and maybe it was just a distraction since she couldn't do anything real to help Ed, and the situation he was finding himself in was scary as fuck to begin with, but she didn't know what else to do, and it wasn't like she wasn't a believer in things that were weird and otherworldly to begin with.

After the... incident that took her parents' lives and left her and Ed with scars they would carry for the rest of their lives, Elizabeth had distracted herself by reading. And reading. And reading some more. It didn't matter what the subject was about, she read it all, and as a little girl desperately seeking answers she'd never get as to why her parents were gone, she had inevitably turned to otherworldly explanations.

There still hadn't been any answers for the little girl searching for a lost hope.

Even before the incident, Elizabeth had loved the old fairy tales, the real ones; the grim and dark ones that hadn't been commercialized. Not that she didn't love Disney, every child should love Disney, but she had always preferred the dark origins of fairy tales. After her parents died and she and Ed were floating adrift before finding their foster parents, she had started to read folklore and legends from all religions and spanning all kinds of different cultures

Hell, she was halfway sure that her foster parents, as weird as they were, were possibly not exactly human, which would explain so much, but she loved them too much to ever ask. Taking in young traumatized twins was never an easy thing, even for normal people, and they had done a spectacular job despite their strangeness, so she would just remain ever grateful to her foster parents for giving Elizabeth her life back.

She left the house, sending a text to Ed as she got her car started, asking him to call her when he was available, and she drove down towards the little antique bookstore she'd found the other week in her expedition to avoid her loathsome Ex. She was still kind of pissed that Zack had rattled her like that, but that wasn't important right now.

What was important was that she was sure there was an old book or two on some of the older pagan practices, since that was the direction she'd decided on, to do what she could to help Ed, even if only for her sake of mind. It also had the bonus feature of being fascinating research anyway, and could be useful in the post-apocalyptic romance she was still struggling to write.

Elizabeth smiled briefly at the clerk behind the counter as she made her way into the narrow aisles filled with stacks of old and rare books. She started with fairytales and drifted off in religious history and new age practices, and wherever the books took her, inhaling the invigorating of ink of old paper.

Old books were one of her favorite smells, right alongside oil paint and chrysanthemums.

She found a half dozen books, paid and left the bookstore, intent on getting started with finding seeds and such from the garden section at the hardware store. She also wanted to find a decent selection of silver, the little bits that can be used discreetly. There was a local flea market about an hour away that always sold bits and things for jewelry making, and they were going to be open this weekend, so that was something to look forward to.

Her cell went off as she was digging through little packets of seeds, and Elizabeth grinned as only Ed could be calling her so soon after her text. "Hey, Brother Mine. You got a minute?"

"Sure, we've stopped for lunch, so I've got some time. What's up?"

"Well, after last night's panic, I ended up getting some advice from a friend," She told him all about James' advice, from avoiding heavy wood as too breakable to the stranger use of silver and iron and salt, and she added the little bits she'd learned from her own research.

"... All right. It's a little odd, but we've both seen weirder. I think I have an idea, too, and it'll be easy to do because of the seminar here. I assume it's safe to say that you're looking into other aspects of esoteric paganism?" Ed asked her with a knowing grin evident in the light tone of his voice.

Elizabeth couldn't help but smile herself. "You know me all too well, Brother Mine."

"Of course I do; once you find something that interests you, you kinda go balls to the wall with it. What else are you looking into?"

"Plant stuff. Most of the herbalist mysticism is incredibly fascinating, and some of the research I've already done is dead useful for my book."

"Always a bonus. How's the book coming along, anyway?"

Elizabeth went through the self checkout in order to focus on her call, ringing up the seeds she'd gathered with the potting soil and other bits necessary for her burgeoning garden project. "It's coming along; I figure I have about a third of it written now. Might have to go back and rewrite some parts, though."

"Thanks to the new research?"

"Precisely. Anyway, I should let you go, since you're on your lunch break." She wanted to keep him on the line, her gut twisting with unease as her instincts told her something was coming; something was going to happen.

"Thanks, Sis."

"Anytime, Brother Mine. Have fun, and be careful."

"Sure thing. I'll call you tonight."

Ed never called her that night.

Ed was running late, with his bad luck, of course he was running late; he'd wanted to be safely indoors by the time night fell. As it was, he was going to miss that mark by a mile. But as winter was already fast approaching, the nights were growing longer and coming sooner, and the incoming winter weather, solemn yet ominous in dark and heavy storm clouds rolling thickly off the mountains, made sure that the chilling darkness of night fell even faster.

He honestly hadn't meant to stay out so late, and after the day's seminar and demos were over and done with, he'd followed up on the advice Liz had called earlier about and found himself a weapon; a classically hand forged iron mace. The weapon was originally going to be a piece in the blacksmith's portfolio and personal armory as a notch in the belt, so to speak, but Ed had managed earlier in the week to befriend the blacksmith and had managed to convince the guy to sell the mace to him, and it had cost him a pretty penny, too.

If this worked, though, it would be fucking worth it.

Ed had also driven out into Portland city proper and found himself a church, one of many that were scattered among the suburban neighborhoods and old city blocks, and he was just barely able to steal some holy water, which in retrospect he knew he should feel guilty about, and rather oddly, he didn't, but again; if it worked, it would be worth it.

And what was that expression; it was better to beg forgiveness than ask permission.

It was totally a cop-out and a crock of shit, but he'd take it.

After he'd used the holy water to basically bless his new mace, Ed went off in search of silver. It didn't matter to him what form it was in, just that it was silver. The result was a long length of fine silver chain wrapped carefully around the spines of the mace and carefully tied off around the hilt just above the fine leather-wrapped grip.

The thing about this whole... rather unsightly mess was that he'd lied to Liz about the severity of the situation, and he'd never liked lying; in fact, he hated lying, especially to his sister. But in this case, he'd felt that it was a case of a necessary evil. Yes, he was being stalked; but he could feel the other's presence all the time and not just when he was alone or from a distance. Yes, he was being watched; but it was more like a constant surveillance that he could never really drop his guard around. Yes, he'd caught a glimpse of what was hunting him; but it wasn't just the once-off that he'd implied to Liz but rather a sighting every day he'd been up here. It was why he hadn't questioned too deeply when Liz had spoken up about more obscure, occultish methods of covering his ass.

Because if Ed was being honest with himself, what he'd seen, quite frankly scared the shit of him.

Last night had left him filled with icy dread in his belly and a staccato rhythm of terror in his heart, because after the others he'd met and networked with throughout the metalworks seminar had decided to continue the party along by going clubbing, Ed had ducked out early, not wanting to get drunk while freaked out of his mind (always a bad idea), and had decided on a relatively early night in.

He'd seen what was stalking him for only a moment, but practically clear as day and terrifying in its boldness. A couple of blocks down from the amphitheatre his seminars were taking place, starkly lit beneath the flickering glow of a streetlight stood a tall, disproportionate figure, a foreboding sense of not-normal not-right in the long disjointed limbs and hunched torso and a wrong, sinister gleam of unbridled apex predator darkly mirrored in cat's-eye shine.

A rustle of wind through the trees to scatter the light and it was gone, faster than he could track, vanishing like smoke in the night.

Regardless to say, last night had really freaked him the fuck out.

This is why Ed was desperately trying to pack up and get his car sorted before night fell in case he had to make with a clich├ęd getaway, complete with driving off in the dead of night, and he was failing at that so simple task because it was getting darker by the second, and his backpack and laptop was still in the motel room.

Fuck it. He'd chance spending the night in the room. As Ed slammed the trunk of his car closed, the skin on the back of his neck crawled as the air went still and silent as a tomb around him, much like a breath held in anticipation or fear; the tension before a lightning strike.

A few houses down from the edge of the motel property a dog started barking and wailing frantically until just as quickly, it was silenced with a choked off and dying yip. A hulking shadow appeared out of the dark at the other end of the parking lot, a low menacing rumble of a growl reaching Ed's hypersensitive ears as he watched, still as stone as fear doused him in a cold sweat. Ed slowly reached down and grabbed the iron mace from where he'd laid it next to the taillight of his car and bolted for the stairwell, looping the thick leather strap around his wrist as he ran.

It charged after him, thundering for him at a frightening speed, much faster than he could ever hope to run, and Ed barely passed the threshold of the stairwell before the flickering light was smashed to pieces, raining down shards of glass, and something wicked sharp and deadly latched onto his leg and he could feel the bones grinding together in a powerfully heavy grip as flesh and muscles were torn and shredded and - shit, those were claws dancing fire along his ribs!

Ed twisted his spine against the burn of too long nails on his flank, bringing his mace around with the momentum and had a brief impression of a huge hulking figure, at least a foot and a half in height on him, and twice as broad in the thickly corded shoulders before the heavy bite of the mace to the thing's head stunned it enough to loosen the rusted razor grip on his leg and he pulled himself forward in a frantic crawl.

There was a faint burning smell hanging in the air as the silver chain glowed dimly where it had made contact.

Ed swung the mace again, gaining just a tiny bit of distance as the blow from his weapon forced the thing back flailing outside the stairwell, but it was enough room to maneuver and he took the opportunity to bolt up the stairs as best he could with a ruined leg. The motel stairwell was cramped, even for him; it would slow the thing down enough to get away.

He knew he was losing blood fast, he could feel it dripping copiously down his leg and soaking into his jeans and weighing them down, but the blood loss wasn't yet enough to incapacitate him, and the adrenaline and terror was effectively keeping the pain away.

He knew he didn't have long; he already felt a little dizzy and his sight was going a little grey at the edges.

The monstrous thing roared behind him still so close and it was nothing like Ed had heard before. There was intelligence and there was malice in that harsh grating bellow of fury, and it promised an agonizing revenge for the damage Ed had managed to inflict.

His ribs sung fiercely and his leg was on fire, a brutal symphony of painful sensations like rust-edged knives and acid that arced up his spine and he knew he was doing himself no favors with his shambling run, gritting his teeth as he felt the damage grow the longer he used the affected limb, grimacing as he felt flesh and muscle begin to tear.

There was no other choice, though, unless he wanted to get caught by whatever was hunting him.

Because this was most certainly a hunt, and he was very much the prey.

He did not want to be caught.

Ed slammed the door to his room shut with a percussive bang, and in the background of his terror and the racing of his heart, he heard the neighbors yelling and he sincerely hoped that there was at least one call to the police for a noise complaint; he could use whatever help he could get.

He locked the surprisingly sturdy and heavy door and threw himself into pushing the motel-provided dresser in front of the door and lunged for his phone that lay on the crappy little bedside table, dialling 911 with trembling fingers that refused to stay still. Behind him, there was a horrendous howling noise filled with a dreadful hunger, ripping an icy full-bodied shudder through Ed as something slammed into the blocked door, shaking it within its frame with the power and force backed by an immense weight. Already, Ed could hear the wood start to creak and splinter under the malevolent onslaught.

"Hurry the hell up! The door won't hold that long!" He yelled over the dispatcher's forced calm script, rattling off the address to the motel as he cowered on the far side of the darkened room away from the door, hovering furtively by the window as he watched the door splinter and crack further.

The door wasn't going to last.

Ed distantly heard the dispatcher demanding he stay on the line, but he wasn't paying attention to the phone that now lay at his feet (he couldn't remember dropping it) as he waited for the monster on the other side of the breaking door, hefting his mace with both hands.

Flashing red and blue lights flickered through the flimsy curtains as the door shattered into a million tiny pieces, the shitty dresser meeting a similar demise and Ed flinched harshly as the monstrous thing lunged and threw him down to the floor with a crash and a fiery bolt of pain as at least two of his ribs snapped from the impact, dragging a pained scream from his throat.

Ed caught a close up glimpse of course ragged fur, snarling teeth, and twisted limbs as he struck out blindly with his mace, but he lacked the proper momentum and the weapon only glanced off the monster's hulking torso, earning him a harsh slap and a ringing head for his trouble, even as he smelled acrid smoke and sizzling flesh from the blessed silver and salted iron.

The monster halted any further attempts for Ed to defend himself by pinning him on his front with a too heavy and distorted hand caught between the taut planes of his shoulders, a warning prick of claws curled around the edges of his spine, leaving Ed blind and feeling terribly exposed as the glimmer of sharp teeth scraped dangerously along the back of his neck, shivering as damp hot air was panted into his skin.

Out of the corner of his eye, Ed gained a glimpse of vaguely human features, but they looked - wrong. It was like looking at a sculpture based off a Picasso portrait; none of the features (eyes nose mouth) were quite in the proper place or with the right proportions, looking twisted and skewed and somewhat animalistic with coarse dark hair creeping too far down what should have been sharp cheekbones and a powerful elongated jaw.

The world narrowed until all Ed could hear was the grotesque heavy panting above him; all he could see was sharp teeth and cruel intelligent eyes, glimmering with a red-amber glow that promised nothing but a long and drawn out death; all he could feel was the massive weight pinning him from shoulders to knees to the ugly shag carpet of the crappy motel room, and the scrape of fangs along the back of his neck, and the scratch of scalpel-sharp claws through the thin material of his flannel shirt.

He watched as the monster paused, canting its head curiously. It leaned in even closer to him, and inhaled deeply at the point just below his ear. The tension in the air shifted to something new, something much more dangerous as a low growl rumbled through its heavy frame, enough for Ed to feel it in his bones.

Suddenly, this thing didn't want to kill him, but in his mindless terror, Ed couldn't fathom what it wanted instead.

The monster jerked forward, and Ed suddenly heard screaming and shouting ("Police! Put your hands up!" "Oh God, what is that thing?!" "Shoot it, shoot it! Open fire!") and the clawed hand on his back shifted to grab his neck and there was a feeling of motion, but he couldn't breathe-!

A crash of shattering glass sounded in his ears and he dropped, flying through the air and the creature dropped him out the window in its escape from the bullets raining down on it, and his vision greyed out from the pain of his body bouncing off a car and slamming into the asphalt of the parking lot. A fuzzy sort of static filled his ears as a wavering vision of a handful of people running towards him was the last thing he saw.

There was a floating feeling, odd and light and fuzzy in his skin. He tried to move, but his limbs didn't want to work right, and distantly he could hear noise, a shrill beeping that stabbed at his brain behind his eyes, bleeding white-hot on his psyche.

He thought there was pain (why was he hurt?) or maybe it was the feeling of intense pressure everywhere but he couldn't make sense of it.

Maybe he didn't want it to make sense.

(Why? What happened? Did he care? He didn't know.)

Maybe there were voices, too. He wasn't sure, and he didn't (couldn't) care at that moment.

There was a heavy scent of blood (a lot of blood) and something chemical, harsh and astringent in his nose, and he couldn't make out why that would be.

(Is that why he was so dizzy?)

He felt so tired, even with the fuzzy gritty feeling coating his tongue. Even the small effort of shifting in place drained him of whatever energy he had, so he let the warm, welcoming darkness swallow him up again.

He woke up slowly, clawing his way by inches, unable yet to open his eyes. There was a slow steady beeping somewhere to his right - a cardiograph - and he could feel the scratchiness of the blanket beneath his fingers, even if he couldn't yet do more than twitch them.

(That small motion was exhausting, draining almost pulling him under.)

A dull, foggy sort of ache pervaded throughout his weary body, but it was a distant thing, not important, not worth thinking about yet.

Where was he?

What happened?

Ever so slowly, he dragged his eyes open, feeling like he was fighting his way through thick molasses, and he was greeted by a blurry sort of darkness, only cut with a dim sheltered light somewhere else in the room. He could make out the outline of a door in front of him, and a shifting to his right brought a vision of a bunch of machines he couldn't be bothered to identify all lit up with whatever readings they were monitoring.

There was something on his face, a mask covering his mouth and he wondered at it before he realized it was helping him breathe easier, relieving some pressure of his ribs.

Why was he in a hospital bed?


Oh, right.

He shut his eyes against the phantom pain of his memories of the attack, memories of the monster returned with a vengeance and it was all he could do to keep his laboured breathing even against the onslaught of different hurts and aches as he became excruciatingly aware of every bruise and broken bone and abrasion across the battered landscape of his broken body.

Looking away to scan the rest of the small room was challenging, and he groaned at the effort it took him, and the slim figure sleeping in the chair next to his bed jolted awake and he took in the worn pallor of his sister's face.

Ed tried to smile, however feeble, beneath the mask feeding him oxygen but probably failed in the endeavor as Elizabeth scooted the uncomfortable hospital chair she'd claimed as close as she could to his bed, tearing up at the sight of him.

"Oh God, Ed..." She breathed out, a little more than a broken whisper and tears spilled down her face, glittering in the dim lit from the door. She looked like she hadn't slept in days, eyes bruised with exhaustion and bloodshot from obvious bouts of tears, which saddened him because he hated seeing Liz cry. She held his hand like he was fragile (maybe he was.)

"I'm okay." His voice sounded broken, even to him; hoarse and raspy and barely a whisper.


"I will be okay. Better?" His pained smile became easier with genuine affection as she nodded fretfully.

"I'll take it. How are you feeling?"

"Pretty good; I think I'm on the really good stuff. Hard to think, though." Ed moved his free hand to his face with Herculean effort, his trembling fingers feeling out the new growth of stubble along his jaw, grimacing at the days-old grime as he rubbed at his tired, tired eyes.

"I've got some ice here," She brought a small cup close to his mouth, pushing the oxygen mask aside, and began feeding him ice chips, giving him enough time between each heavenly-cold sliver to melt and drink the water down, instantly easing his dry and aching throat. His resulting sigh was blissful.

"I should tell the doctors you're awake." She didn't move yet; loathe to actually leave his side for even a moment. Ed couldn't blame her one bit.

"How long was I out?"

"...Three days." Surprise flickered across his face and she nodded to confirm it.

"Really, that long? Do you know what happened?"

"Not really. I got the call while you were on the way to the hospital. All they could really tell me was that you'd been attacked. No one really wants to talk about it with me... I keep getting the feeling that everyone's pretty unnerved about the whole thing." Elizabeth explained, looking a little scared and uncertain.

"...I don't know what it was, but whatever attacked me wasn't human, I don't think. Too much like an animal, or something, but nothing like I'd ever seen before."

"... What are you thinking?" Here, Ed hesitated, knowing full well how out there and fantastical his answer was going to sound, and if it literally hadn't happened to him, he'd never believe it himself. But, it had happened and it was real and their reality now.

"Honestly, if I didn't know any better, I'd say it was a fucking werewolf, Liz. The iron and silver and salt worked, Liz; I could smell its flesh burning when I hit it." He shrugged helplessly as Elizabeth stared at him unblinkingly as the ramifications of his words ran through her head. She opened her mouth and closed it a few times as she struggled for words.

"...What do we do? It got away, whatever it was."

"Dunno. Go home? Do some research? Keep an eye out? The fuck can you do against a goddamn werewolf?" He shrugged again, or tried to, as the small movement tugged painfully at the stitches along his ribs.

"For now, let's just focus on getting you home, okay?"

Ed smiled tiredly at his sister, squeezing her hand with what little strength he could gather, which admittedly wasn't much at all, even as his eyes drifted shut, exhaustion settling in deep. "Okay. Okay, I can do that."

"Get some rest, Ed."

The following week and a half was a blur of unconsciousness, drugs and doctors, as hospital staff ran whatever tests they needed and treatment plans were discussed at length, but it was all Ed could do to stay focused when he was awake and somewhat aware; they were giving him the good drugs on account of how messed up his leg was, and it was doing a number on his ability to concentrate. The dubious highlight of that time was when a couple of detectives came to visit during one of his more lucid states of wakefulness.

They watched him like he was some feral thing, sharp edged in caution and distaste, which baffled Ed as he was still doped to the gills most of the time, and wasn't he the victim in this scenario? One of the faceless, cookie-cutter detectives loomed by the door, arms crossed with a scowl plastered across his face in a manner that Ed felt was supposed to be intimidating, but he felt that the effect fell short of the mark. The second detective made himself much more approachable with a placid expression and sitting in the chair Elizabeth often claimed in her visits. All in all, it was a very classic 'Good Cop, Bad Cop' routine.

He was a little surprised to find that he was somewhat of a suspect in play of his own attack, since the evidence left behind told the authorities that Ed had been prepared for the attack (as much as he'd been able to prepare), and so were convinced, despite the lack of any concrete or circumstantial evidence, that he, at the very least, knew the identity of his attacker, so perhaps he could cooperate and tell them the reason why his accomplice had turned on him, and what was the purpose of the animal mutilations? What he engaged in some cult or was the mutilations part of some kind of ritual? They could help him, the detectives implored, if Ed was in some kind of drug or gang-related trouble, but only if he cooperated.

Ed had outright laughed at their probing questions, the sound bitter and false, pointing out that he had solid alibis for each of the mutilations, and hospital screenings had already proved that he was completely clean of drugs, and that the only reason they were questioning him like this was because they had obviously dug up the details of his past, starting with the gory and messy deaths of his parents and the attempted murder of his sister by their mother, caught in the throes of some kind of psychotic break.

He correctly reasoned that they were only looking at him as more than just a hapless and random victim was because more often than not, troubled kids with a violent and traumatic past ended up as troubled and violent adults, trapped in an ever-escalating cycle that only ended in jail time or a messy death by means of suicide-by-cop.

Bad Cop (as Ed had labeled him in his head; he couldn't be bothered to actually learn their names, which he blamed entirely on the potent painkillers in his system) had flushed a violent purple and Ed briefly wondered what would happen if the vein in his forehead burst or if he was going to have a stroke. At least they were in a hospital if that was the case. Good Cop gave him a false facsimile of a smile, the tepid expression not at all matched by the hard flint of intense dislike in his gaze as he watched Ed disassemble what they clearly thought was a clear motive for Ed's attack.

Ed was saved from further interrogation (or harassment, he wasn't sure yet) by a nurse storming into the small room, alerted by the spike in the readings of his vitals caused by his sudden mocking laughter, which wasn't so good an idea as pain, sharp like a wicked dagger, lanced through the mending cage of his broken ribs.

He scowled as the detectives were ushered from the room by a tiny but ferocious no-nonsense nurse, and later, when his daily dose of drugs kicked in, Ed lamented that Elizabeth hadn't visited. She'd probably been ambushed by the Rent-a-Cops, and that put him in a bad mood as he slipped back under into a mindless sleep.

Ed stayed in the hospital for at least another week, the days just beginning to blur together as his leg was casted and physical therapy started. He was eternally grateful to Liz who visited with him every day for hours. Together they kept going over the details of Ed's attack, to a point where Elizabeth started bringing in her legal pads to take notes.

"What are you planning with all these notes?"

"Well, I was thinking that together we could maybe... I don't know. Maybe we could write a book or something?"

"Um, I'm not sure there's that much to go on, but yeah, we could give it a shot. What about your romance novel? How's that coming along?"

"Ugh, don't remind me."