Crossbreeds 3: Chapter 54 What Are You Doing Here? by RedPhantom ()
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The next morning, Andy took Jo, Jaidu, Dae, and Ti to the library early. Steve left shortly after that, saying he had a meeting with an important client.
Not long after they had all left, the doorbell rang. Carla was in the shower so Ann answered the door. A woman stood there. Her posture and expression reminded Ann of her father’s sister, a very stern woman who thought that all the rank and privilege of being royalty was her right and tended to look down on anyone she thought was beneath her, which included everyone except the king and that was only because he didn’t allow it.
“Can I help you?” Ann asked. She felt her bearing become the same as she used for her Aunt Noyet or when she held court.
“I’m looking for my daughter,” the woman said.
“And you are?”
“Amelia Thompson,” the woman said as if Ann should’ve known.
“And your daughter is?” Ann persisted, although she knew.
“Joanne Thompson. She called me from here yesterday.”
“Please, come in.” Ann’s stepped aside. “Jo’s not available at the moment. Please sit.” She led Amelia to the living room.
What? He sounded as if she woke him.
Amelia’s here. I’ll come out and get you.
“Nim is in the guest house if you’ll excuse me,” she told Amelia.
Ti, Jo’s mother is here.
What do you want me to do about it?
I’m teasing. I did. Andy’s looking for a place to turn around.
She passed Remtani on the way out.
“What’s wrong?” He asked.
“Nasty Noble in the living room.”
Remtani smiled at the reference. Nasty Noble was a game they’d all played as kids. When a noble would come to the palace acting as though everyone was beneath them, the princes and princesses would sit with them, letting them act as if they were better than mere kids and then try to find ways to put them in their place without revealing they were royalty.
“I’ll sit with her while you get Nim,” he offered.
“Remember, here, you’re not a prince,” Ann reminded him.
“I’m always a prince.” Remtani smiled again.
“Just follow the rules and don’t mention Nim’s money.”
“Nim has money?” He feigned confusion.
Ann went to the guesthouse. Nim was dressed in a pair of slacks in a local style.
“Which shirt should I wear?” He had a few out on the bed.
“What no dragon skin today?” Ann teased.
He growled. “I want to make a good first impression.”
“That one, I would think,” Ann said, pointing.
He put it on. Ann helped him wrap his arm.
“What about my hair? It seems short hair is more fashionable here.”
“I think Jo would shoot you if you cut it. Brush it out and tie it back. Sit down. I’ll help.”
Nim did so and Ann put his hair up.
“Jo’s on her way back,” Ann told him.
“I know. I spoke with Ti.” He put his shoes on and stood. “How do I look?”
“You look presentable. Today, you are not Nim. You are Master Nimitinas, mentor of the White Wyrm, feared by young ones everywhere. You are the chosen emissary of the High Council, champion of princesses.”
Nim smiled and he unconsciously stood a little straighter.
“You can’t tell her that, but it doesn’t make it any less true.”
Nim nodded. “I remember.”
“I forgot walking logbook.”
Nim smiled grew.
“You’ve faced mad dragons and immortals. You stood up to the Council and protected outsiders more than once. You can handle your mother-in-law.”
“Mother-in-law?” He asked as they went to the main house.
“That’s what they say here. When you get married, your spouse’s family becomes your in-laws, mother-in-law, father-in-law, and so on.”
“Thanks. Things are so different here.”
“But you lived here.”
“For a few months, most of which I was sick in bed.”
“You always say it’s good to keep learning.”
Nim nodded. “It is.”
They reach the house. They could hear Remtani talking about something. He was going on and on, talking as if they were old friends although it was clear from Amelia’s expression she didn’t agree.
“Oh, you’ve met my brother, Remmy,” Ann said as they entered the room. “I hope he hasn’t been too excitable this morning.”
“Who are you?” Amelia finally asked. She stood as she spoke.
“I’m Ann,” Ann said as if it were obvious. “And this is Nimitinas.”
Nim shook her hand. “Mrs. Thompson, please to finally meet you. Joanne will be back shortly.”
“Where is she?”
“She was going into town for a bit but when she heard you were here, she changed her mind.”
“Can I get you anything?” Ann offered.
“No thank you.” Amelia shook her head. “Is this your house?”
“No. It’s my in-laws’ place. I own the boarding house Joanne used to live in back in Chicago. I live on Torthoc. I have a couple of places there. I should let Carla know they have company. If you’ll excuse me.” Ann left.
“I need to check on Jaidu,” Remtani said excusing himself.
“Mrs. Thompson, please have a seat,” Nim said. “What brings you out this way?”
“You may call me Amelia. My daughter ran off with a man. I think I should meet him. Do you have a problem with that?”
“No. I’m just surprised. I was in Chicago for months and you never came by. We were a lot closer then.”
“Joanne’s lived with plenty of men. You’re the first she’s actually run off with.”
“I still could have come to Chicago before Jo left, had you asked.” He assumed Emeton would have permitted him to use the gate for that.
“Are you sleeping with my daughter?”
“Excuse me?” The question surprised Nim.
“Oh, of course you are. The girl’s a little slut. She wouldn’t have run off with you if you weren’t. What are your intentions for her?”
Nim wasn’t sure how to answer. He thought Jo had told her they were getting married, but perhaps she hadn’t. If she hadn’t, he didn’t want to say anything without knowing her reasons. Fortunately, he didn’t have to.
“Mother, what are you doing here?” Jo asked, storming into the room.
“Jo, calm down. She just wanted to meet me,” Nim said.
“After two years?”
“Jo…” Nim started.
“Two years ago, you told me you weren’t even living with him. Now, you’ve left the country, move to some remote island with no phones.”
“I tried to call you before I left. As usual, you wouldn’t take my phone call.”
“That’s why I came instead of asking you to come to Chicago,” Amelia relented. She sat down again. Jo and Nim did too.
“You flew all the way to Colorado?” Jo asked.
“Your father had a business meeting here. I came with him.”
“I’m glad you could meet him in person,” Jo said.
“So, as I was saying before Joanne came in, what are your intentions? She said you two were going to get married. Are you truly intending to do that or did you figure a proposal would be a good way to get into her pants?”
Nim almost went mad-dragon at that. Jo’s grip on his arm kept him from it. She’d get hurt too.
“Mother!” Jo cried.
“Mrs. Thompson, among my people, to say something like that about your own daughter would be unthinkable, even if it were true.” Jo and Amelia both looked as though they believed he had just implied Jo was a slut. He continued. “And in this case, where it isn’t, it could be grounds for banishment. I’ve met plenty of people in my travels. A number of them would be labeled sluts. Jo is not one of them. My people do not condone immorality and we would never marry someone like that.”
“So, you are still planning on marrying her?”
“Mother, we’re already married,” Jo said.
“We were married a month ago.”
“You’re not wearing a wedding ring.” Amelia pointed out
“So?” Jo shrugged.
“My people don’t exchange rings as part of the wedding ceremony. We only give out engagement rings. If it’s a big deal, I could have one made.” Nim shrugged.
“Made?” Amelia asked.
He nodded. “So it matches the engagement ring. I had that made for Jo too.”
“You did?” Jo a surprise.
Nim nodded again. “The blacksmith Kith used to work for is also a jeweler. Kith had taken over most of the jewelry making, but he’ll still do a piece now and then. He made Sapphire’s ring too. Do you want a wedding ring?”
“You know the answer to that.”
He turned to Amelia. “Do you feel it’s needed?”
“If you’d don’t do that, there’s really no need is there?” Amelia asked.
“Our cultures are very different. We sometimes compromise.”
“It’s up to Joanne.” Amelia shrugged.
Nim shrugged also. “As she said, I know how she feels.”
“So, do you have any kids yet?” Amelia asked.
“We’ve only been married a month,” Jo said.
“But you’ve been together for two years.”
“We didn’t jump into bed together the first day we met,” Jo insisted. She didn’t mention she had offered to sleep with Nim the second time they saw each other.
“We’ve only been sleeping together a month,” Nim said. He was starting to lose his temper.
“With Joanne’s reputation, it’s hard to know. If she’s been with a guy more than a few times, it’s likely she sleeping with him.”
With that Nim lost his temper, but before he could do more than raise his lip to growl, Ann outburst in.
“How is everyone doing?” She asked cheerfully. Nim! Watch your manners, She sent sharply. “Carla sent refreshments.”
“Jo, hazelnut coffee. Nim, tea.” She’s goading you. Don’t give in. “Mrs. Thompson, Jo gets her love of coffee from someone. I’ll bet it’s you. How do you take it?” The smile she used was the same she used when dealing with the Elven Council of Elders.
“Cream and two sugars, please,” Amelia said.
Ann put the cream and sugar in Amelia’s coffee and handed it to her.
“Let me know if you need anything else,” Ann said again and left. Nim whatever you do, do not let her know you’re a dragon or where we’re from.
I don’t know, just don’t.
“Are you alright, sweetie?” Jo asked. She could tell when he was using telepathy.
“I didn’t take any painkillers this morning,” Nim told her. “Maybe I should have.”
“What happened to your arm?” Amelia asked.
“I burned it trying to help a friend.” Nim shrugged. He didn’t feel he should tell her about the surgery.
“Oh my, I’m sorry.”
“It’s improving. I’ll have quite the scar, but that’s life.”
“Is Ann from Torthoc too? I don’t recognize her accent.”
“She is.” Nim nodded. “She is one of the people I tutored.”
“Her accent is different from yours.”
“We’re from different clans.”
“What did you tutor her in?”
“Physics.” Nim shrugged. From what he had learned and what Ann’s had told him of her studies here, physics was closely related to magic.
“Physics?” Amelia looked surprised. Nim wondered what kind of answer she expected.
Nim nodded. “She’s a smart one.”
“Melissa wanted me to tell you ‘hi’ next time I spoke with you,” Jo said. Melissa was her cousin and one of the few in the family who hadn’t gone along with Amelia’s insistence that they had nothing to do with Jo. It was at her wedding they had found the gate to Chicago. Her in-laws were the owners of the country club in which the gate was located. Melissa allowed Jo there as a guest. To Jo’s knowledge, she didn’t know about the gate though. That was in a portion not open to the public and Melissa didn’t help with running the place.
“You still talk with her?” Amelia asked.
“That was before I left for Torthoc,” Jo said. “We have no phones. It’s difficult to talk to anyone here.
“How long will you be in Colorado?” Jo asked her mom.
Amelia shrugged. “It depends on how well your father’s meeting goes. He also wants to meet Nimitinas. We want to take you out for dinner. Your father wants to try this new barbecue place.”
“Nim doesn’t eat pork,” Jo said.
“He doesn’t?” Amelia raised an eyebrow. “They also have chicken I believe.”
“It’s fine. I can eat pork. It’s just not something I prefer,” Nim said. “Chicken will work too.” He thought he might have seen a look of disappointment in Amelia’s eyes. Was that some kind of test?
Carla came in at that time. “Please forgive me for neglecting guests. I was in the shower. I’m Carla Mathis.” She offered a hand to Amelia who shook it.
“I’m Amelia Thompson.”
“Amelia Thompson? Are you related to Curt Thompson?”
“He’s my husband, why?”
“Oh, no reason.” Carla waved her off.
“I really can’t say. Client confidentiality,” Carla explained. “My husband is Stephen Mathis.”
Amelia frowned and then Nim saw recognition on her face. “Oh. Okay.” She stood suddenly. “Joanne, I need to go. Your father and I will pick you up around seven.”
“Okay. See you then.” Jo nodded and Amelia hurried out.
“Well, if it was that easy, I should’ve done it sooner.” Carla smiled and walked out of the room.
“What just happened?” Nim asked.
“I don’t know.” Jo was just as confused as he was.
They went and found Carla.
“Thank you for whatever you did,” Jo said.
“Oh, you’re welcome. Ann said she was in there giving you trouble. I never realized Curt was your father. It wasn’t until your mom introduced herself that I made the connection.”
“How do you know them?”
“Curt’s been a client of Steve’s for years.”
“How? You’re here and we’ve always lived in Chicago. Father doesn’t travel that often.”
“Steve has firms all over the country. He’s mostly retired but your dad is one of his biggest clients so he still works with him personally.”
“Steve is Dad’s lawyer?” Jo asked.
Carla nodded. “One of them. I know he has others too.”
“Is Steve the one my father’s meeting with today?”
“I would imagine. I really don’t know.”
“If Steve and Dad worked together, I wonder what upset Mother so much.”
“That, I have no idea.”
When they returned home, Thailyn found Ann pacing the guesthouse. She looked like she was talking to herself.
“Hi, Dad,” she said when she saw him.
“What did I tell you about calling me that?” He asked.
“You didn’t tell me anything.” Her smile sent shivers down his spine.
“What happened that woke you?”
“I can’t fool you, can I?”
“Ann doesn’t call me Dad.”
“Where are we? This feels like Andy’s world, but it looks different.”
“We’re in Colorado, visiting Andy’s parents. Do you remember we discussed it at the meeting? Why are you awake?”
“Something’s wrong with Jo’s mom.” Drepal frowned.
“I don’t know. She was purposefully trying to provoke Nim. She almost had him go mad-dragon. Fortunate, he didn’t let on who he was. I stepped in and he calmed down. He thought I was Ann. Then, Amelia wanted to take them to dinner at a place that serves pork and chicken. Well, that’s all she’d mentioned. They do serve beef. I think she was looking for proof he’s a dragon.”
“I don’t know. That’s more Dae’s skills. Let me talk with her and I’ll find out why.”
Thailyn growled. “You are not allowed to do that.”
“Then what good am I?”
“You see a lot we don’t. Who else knew what she was doing?”
Drepal nodded. “Thank you for not saying keeping Ann sane.”
“You are more than that. Does anyone else know you’re awake?”
“Andy, of course. He called. I told him what I told you. Ti will probably know when he sees me. It’s part of the reason I’m out here. I said I was going to lay down in dragon form, which I did.”
“Why not let Ann come back?”
“I’m trying. I need Andy’s help.”
“They said they’d be back for lunch. Perhaps he can help then.”
“That’s what Andy said. I told him I’d be okay until then. I hope he can help. I don’t like this place.”
Thailyn smiled. “I’m not fond of it either.”
“It’s not causing your heart problems, is it?”
The concern, coming from Drepal, surprised him. However, he didn’t let it show. “No, there’s no trouble. The distance from the eta-vie helps. I just don’t like not being able to use my magic.”
“This place is strange. The smells, the sounds, the way everything looks with the electric lamps. I don’t like it.”
“Dae said they’re on their way back,” Thailyn said.
“Did you tell her I was here?”
“No. She volunteered the information.”
He sat with her while they waited. Andy came as soon as he got home. Thailyn left to give them privacy. He needn’t have bothered. Drepal was asleep and Ann was back within moments.
Image Comments (5)
zaqxsw () 8:56AM | Wed, 30 June 2021
Excellent chapter and interesting twist... Do Jo's parents know about dragons and what legal matter brought them to Colorado? Whatever it is obviously Jo's mother is concerned about it or she wouldn't have run out so fast. Can't wait to see what happens next.
Leije () 1:18PM | Thu, 01 July 2021
Superb characters, nice decor and nice reflects in the table, excellent scene !
UteBigSmile () 2:03PM | Thu, 01 July 2021
Your new story and the related image are fantastic once again!
LevKornowska () Online Now! 9:53AM | Fri, 02 July 2021
Amelia looks exactly how we would picture her when reading this chapter :-) I would have needed something stronger than coffee if I had to deal with such a woman .... Great accompanying render too!