CHAPTER FIVE HUNDRED and FORTY
Monday early morning — 5:00 a.m.
When Nelson’s alarm went off at 4:10 am, he groaned and turned it off. He woke up at five and got dressed in his work out gear. He came out of his bedroom and went to the kitchen to make coffee.
Mari was leaning against the kitchen bar. She held out a cup of coffee. He took a sip, and then looked at her.
“Perfect,” Nelson said. “How did you …?”
“Hedone,” Mari said.
“Hedone has been here?” Nelson asked.
“Of course,” Mari said. “She wanted to make sure you were safe.”
Nelson blinked at Mari for a moment before grinning.
“So it’s going to work?” Nelson asked.
Mari just smiled at Nelson.
“What?” Nelson asked.
“Dear boy,” Mari said. “You are simply such a sweet human. That’s all.”
“Why?” Nelson asked with a scowl.
“You care about this family so very much,” Mari said. “It’s sweet.”
Mari opened her mouth to say something else.
“Whatever,” Nelson said. “I’m going to work out.”
“I shall go with you,” Mari said.
She pointed a finger at herself and she was wearing workout gear. Her hair was pulled back into a simple ponytail and she was wearing workout shoes. He was slightly surprised that she was small, not more than five feet.
“I can make myself taller,” Mari said, reading his mind. “Fin does that. He didn’t like that Jacob is taller than he, the Royal Prince. So he stretched himself. It’s simple magic.”
“Sissy says that I need to get used to just being me,” Mari said. “She says that I’m really great but I don’t know it because my brain is clouded with ridiculous magic.”
“It’s true. My brain is clouded with magic,” Mari said. “The more I am myself, the more I like myself. Mostly, I’m short because it’s pleasing to the misogynist. You know, I’m the one for sale at the highest bidder.”
“Gross,” Nelson said.
“But factual,” Mari said.
“Was factual,” Nelson said.
“Ah, yes,” Mari said. She grinned at him. “I am my own woman now.”
Nelson smiled at her, and she blessed him with a genuine, non-magic smile.
“Does your boyfriend care?” Nelson asked.
“About my height?” Mari asked. She thought for a moment. “I’ve never asked him. He’s a healer so my magic isn’t that interesting to him. He’s much more interested in the fact that I am ruthless, not that I’m short.”
“I guess that’s good,” Nelson said.
Mari laughed, and Nelson smiled. They started toward the stairs to the basement when Mari stopped walking. Nelson had this odd sense that the world around him flickered like an old film movie stuck between the scenes. He spun around to face Mari.
“What has happened?” Nelson asked.
“You could feel that?” Mari asked.
“It felt like the world, I don’t know, stuttered?” Nelson asked.
Mari gave him a bright and beautiful smile. He pointed at her.
“No,” Nelson said. “No trickery.”
“Actually.” Mari took such a deep breath that her shoulders rose and dropped. “You’re right.”
“What has happened?” Nelson asked again.
“Your beloved is a badass,” Mari said.
Denver Cereal continues tomorrow…
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