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This take place near the end of Year Eight – Wren is living in the Village, as she graduated at the end of Year Seven.
"We could do this, you know."
Nydia looked over at Wren uncertainly. "This?" She looked down at the cake they were making. "You mean, the planners idea?"
"Exactly." She piped another rose onto the edge of the second tier. "Cy’DJ, cy’Maureen, we’d make a good team. We could go into business together in a small city, use the stipend Regine gives us as seed money, and raise our kids together." She tilted her head towards the penned-off playroom where her two and Nydia’s two were playing together. "They get along, and we get along…"
Nydia blushed furiously, a lovely indigo color over her unmasked complexion. "I don’t like girls, like that," she whispered.
Wren smiled reassuringly. "I don’t either, not really," she whispered back. "But that’s not what I meant. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with two friends living together, is there?"
"No, of course not," Nydia answered hurriedly. "It would be nice to have someone else to help with the babies." Dysmas had expressed some interest, when he was still in school, but since he’d graduated, all he’d done was send cash-filled cards for holidays and Cory’s birthdays. "But… boys? I mean, it might be nice, once in a while, to have a man around."
"I know," Wren nodded wistfully. "To have someone to take care of the heavy lifting, literal and figurative."
Nydia thought about that for a moment. "And figuratively," she echoed. Was that what she’d been missing? Wren had seemed rather happy, the year Elfred Kept her. And then with Kellagh the next year, but…
"I don’t want to be Kept again." She’d loved Dysmas. She still loved Dysmas. But she didn’t ever want to be under the collar again.
"Me, neither," Wren agreed thoughtfully. "But there’s nothing saying we have to. Look," she said, putting the last touches on the cake. "We can do this. We can offer love, and hospitality. Both as a business…"
Nydia was beginning to understand. "…and at home," she nodded slowly. A man didn’t have to be Keeping them to take care of, as Wren had said, the heavy lifting. "I like this plan."
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