Addergoole has a landing page here.
There was a bouquet of flowers and a dead raccoon waiting for Wren and Nydia at their new apartment.
Nydia took care of the raccoon with a muttered Working, while Wren unpacked a vase and got the flowers set. Neither of them talked about the oddness of the gift; neither wanted to admit that they weren’t sure if it was a normal sort of thing, out in the world.
Out in the world. They moved their stuff into two of the three bedrooms and didn’t quite look at each other, didn’t quite admit that they both wanted to crawl into a closet and hide.
“Lady Maureen and DJ will bring the kids in a week,” Wren said. Nydia already knew this, of course, but it was more what Wren didn’t say, anyway: we have a week to get our shit together.
“Of course we can.” Wren’s smile was bright and false. “Look. The job part, we know we can do. The mom part… we have practice at that. That’s not the problem.”
“No,” Nydia agreed. That wasn’t the problem.
“And we have this list. See? And that takes care of the rest.”
“Are we…” Nydia gestured incoherently. Wren smiled, seeming to understand. Of course, that’s why they were friends.
“Of course we are. We graduated from Addergoole. But, come on, don’t you think our former Keepers are, too?”
Nydia found herself squirming, but smiling at the same time. “Vampire,” she pointed out. “I always wondered… but I didn’t really want to think about it.”
“Control freak.” Wren picked up a box of cooking things and began unpacking, lining things up in a line against the back of the tiny kitchen’s counter. “And no, I didn’t consider adding either of them to the list.”
“Good.” Nydia knew she was lying every bit as much as Wren was, but there were some lies their friendship was balanced carefully on, and that was one of the big ones. “So who do we have to interview?”
“Eight men.” Wren tilted her head at the pink file folder. “One probably-just-human, three Faded, and four half-breed Ellehemaei. No Addergoole grads, but one of the Faded is a relative. Cousin of Kendra and Callista’s.”
“How many arms. How man… you said Faded.” Nydia smiled. “Okay, that sounds do-able. When do we start?”
“Tomorrow at noon. Lady Maureen set up the first appointment.”
There was a dead squirrel and three dead roses waiting outside the apartment the next moment. The squirrel went the way of the raccoon, the roses got hung in the entryway, and Nydia and Wren began setting up a life for themselves.
Storefronts were easy. The realtors that tried to sell said storefronts weren’t quite as easy, but Wren and Nydia knew exactly what they wanted, and they weren’t as easy to bully as they looked. Whenever the men started getting pushy, Nydia pictured Rozen and Baram, and the balding, middle-aged guy in the sweater vest didn’t seem scary at all.
“No,” she explained, again, “we’re looking for something with more space. The windows we can fix. The kitchen can be rebuilt. But this looks like you could, maybe, do a cookie shoppe out of here, if you didn’t ever want to expand.”
“Space like that is going to cost you. It might be better to start small and work up to a big place.” This one wanted to be paternal. Nydia had Opinions about that.
“We need a place that will suit our needs now. If you’re not capable of giving us what we want, we’re more than willing to take our money elsewhere.”
He looked like she had slapped him. “I just don’t want you girls to get in over your heads.”
“Girls. Are we girls, Nydia?” Wren was smiling. That was not a good sign.
“Five children between us, Wren, I’d say we probably deserve ‘woman,'” she agreed happily. “When’s our next appointment?”
“About… twenty minutes. If we leave now, we can get coffee first.”
“Coffee sounds delicious.” And like that, they were gone. Nydia felt a little bad – but just a little bad, over a thrill of naughtiness and empowerment that was completely new.
“What’s his name?” she asked, when the surge of pleasure wore off and she remembered what, exactly, their next appointment was.
“Oh, good question. James maybe, Jack? Jared?”
Nydia flipped through the paperwork. “Tate.” She giggles a bit. “We’re meeting with a Tater Tot?”
“Be nice, Nydia, he looks like a nice guy.”
“I’m pretty sure nice guys are not what we’re looking for.” They’d interview him anyway, of course. He deserved the chance and, really, he could be just what they needed. Or he could be a dud-spud.
Tate wasn’t quite a dud-spud, but he had all the personality of a french fry. Nice, handsome, strong… boring.
That was the order of operations for the whole day. Nice place, no foundation. Nice guy, no spine. Creepy place with great lighting. Jerk with a winning smile.
“It’s only day one.” Wren sounded as if she was trying to convince herself as much as, if not more than, she was trying to cheer up Nydia. “We have three more places and two more guys tomorrow. And two and three the day after that. We’ll find someone, and someplace.”
“I know.” By this point, Nydia wasn’t remotely surprised by the dead blackbird at their doorstep, or the box of chocolates next to it. “We have weird neighbors, Wren.”
“We’re only in the lease for three months. We can find a better place once we have everything else settled.”
“I hope so.” She glanced around to be sure they were alone, and dealt with the bird the way she’d handled the other two “gifts.” “I’m a little wary of those chocolates.”
“Sealed box,” Wren pointed out. “From the chocolatier next to the almost-good-place.”
“Great bones, no personality? That one had potential.”
“So did the boy right after that. We can refurbish the building…”
“But we don’t want to refurbish a boy,” Nydia agreed. “Not the sort of thing we’re looking for.”
“There’s always tomorrow.” Wren opened the box of chocolate and muttered a complex Idu charm. “Try the ones with pink.”
“Tomorrow,” Nydia agreed. She popped the pink candy in her mouth and wondered how you gave a boy a coat of paint.
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