Lily 3

One of the things that is probably becoming clear is that discovery drafts are really sailing into the unknown. Why is Lily seeing a therapist? I dunno. Why is she working in a diner? I dunno. What does Fin have to do with her past? I dunno. Who’s the antagonist? I dunno. This is the part at the beginning where I just write whatever comes to mind. It used to drive Bob crazy. “What is this stuff doing in here?” “I dunno.”

But your questions are good ones, the few I can answer and the ones I can’t, and there are a lot of great ideas generated by them–Why is the diner a Faraday cage? I dunno–and good reminders–Where the hell is the cat?–so we’re corking right along here. You wanted Fin’s PoV, so that’s the first scene below, and then there’s another one after that that’s pure info-dump so there will be massive rewriting, or there would be if this was going to be a book.

This is not going to be a book.


“That Lily sure is cute,” Bjorn said when they were outside.

“Yep,” Fin said, and thought Lily.

Masses of curly red hair in a sloppy bun on top of her head. Big brown eyes, like velvet with sparkles. Deep dimples whenever she smiled. Cheerful and efficient and naturally bouncy and smart and—

“My kind of woman,” Bjorn said.

“No,” Fin said.

But there was a shadow behind her eyes. Something was wrong there, and there should be nothing wrong there, Lily was made of light. A soft pink light–

“What do you mean, no?” Bjorn said. “That is my kind of woman.”

“Your kind of woman wears push-up bras and tight tank tops and hangs out in bars,” Fin said. And does drugs, but it would not be helpful to mention that.

“You don’t know that she isn’t wearing a push-up,” Bjorn said.

“Yeah, I do,” Fin said, remembering the soft movement under the pink uniform.

He wasn’t even sure she was wearing a bra. It wasn’t helpful to think of that, so he tried to move on, but he’d been having a lot of pink uniform thoughts ever since she’d come down the counter to pour his coffee—he hated coffee, but if that was what it took to get her to walk toward him, he’d drink it–and he stuck there for a minute–

“I saw her first,” Bjorn said.

“No,” Fin said.

He’d seen her, outside the diner, talking to some dark-haired guy who was standing too close, so close that she kept backing up. The shadow probably had something to do with him. He’d have stopped the shadow guy but he didn’t know her. That was all she needed, another guy in the mix–

“You didn’t even flirt with her,” Bjorn said.

“Yes, I did,” Fin said.

And then she’d gone into the diner, and he’d told Bjorn he wanted a burger for dinner, and Bjorn had said, “We had a diner burger for lunch,” and he’d said, “So order something else,” and followed her in, and watched while she put her apron on and laughed at something the cook had said—the cook was also hot, he’d pointed that out to Bjorn—and then waited for her to come down the counter to him–

“I did not see you flirt,” Bjorn said.

“She did,” Fin said.

At least, she saw the specials menu. A woman with shadows behind her eyes did not want a full-court press. Take it slow. Also she was fun to draw. All those curls. Those big eyes. That apron–

“I’ll flip you for her,” Bjorn said.

“No,” Fin said, and stopped walking, and met his brother’s eyes for a long look.

“Oh,” Bjorn said.

“Yes,” Fin said.

“The cook is really cute,” Bjorn said and walked on.

“Yes, she is,” Fin said and followed him.


There’s no beginning to this next scene (DISCOVERY DRAFT),it probably takes place a week after the previous scenes because Lily and Fin know each other slightly better. Yes, there will be other scenes in between. I’m just noodling around now, and this will have massive revisions because of info dump. Except not a book so no revisions. Argh.


“You have a master’s degree and you’re waitressing,” Fin said.

“Yes,” Lily said. “Do you want more coffee?”

“Yes,” Fin said.

She went down the counter for the pot, conscious of him waiting for her with no impatience. He was the most restful Viking she’d ever known.

When she was back in front of him, he said, “Does Van in the kitchen have a PhD?”

“No, she has a master’s, too.” Lily poured his cup and took the pot back to the hot plate, and when she turned around, he was sipping his coffee, calm as ever.

I could do this all night, she thought. It was like doing laps with a reward in the middle. He was like human valium. If she stood next to him, she was in the calm of the storm. Kind of. That wasn’t exactly why she wanted to stand next to him.

He’s a Viking, she told herself, and then went back down the counter to him anyway. It was half an hour to closing. There weren’t many customers.

She leaned against the pie case to consider him while he sipped his coffee, the thick china cup held close in his hands. He had great hands. Not that she had a thing for hands. Or him. Still, those were great hands.

She picked up a cleaning cloth from the counter and began to wipe down the pie case, which was already immaculate because she’d just wiped it down an hour before.

Maybe he kept coming back for the pie. He always sat across from the pie case.

She turned around, and he smiled at her. Say something. “So you really like pie?”

“Not particularly.” Fin tilted his head a little, as if he were considering her, and her kicked up a beat because all his attention was on her. “How about a deal?”

“A deal?”

“You answer a question for me, I’ll answer one for you.”

“Like Truth or Dare?”

“No,” he said. “Like Truth and Truth.”

“That’s harder.”

“You can start,” he offered and smiled at her again, and she thought, I bet the whole world gives you anything you want for that smile.

I certainly would.

No, I wouldn’t.

She straightened. “I don’t have any questions.”

“I do,” Fin said. “Why are you waitressing if you have a master’s degree?”

Lily leaned back against the pie case again. “My father often asks me that.”

“I’m not your father.”

“No kidding.” Lily caught herself. “My dad is odd.”

“My dad is odder,” Fin said.

“You can’t know that,” Lily began.

“You know my brother, Bjorn? He’s a twin. Guess what his twin’s name is.”

“Leif?” Lily said. “Erik? Something that means ax-wielder?”

“Bjorn,” Fin said. “He named them both Bjorn. Do you know why?”

“He really liked that name.”

“So he could call the second one Bjorn Again.”

“Wait,” Lily said. “Is that a joke?”

“It is,” Fin said. “One he’s been telling for thirty years. It’s also true.”

“He actually named Bjorn ‘Bjorn Again’?”

“Yes,” Fin said.

“He’s a horrible person.”


“What did he name the first twin?”

“Bjorn Free.”

“Okay, this has to be a joke,” Lily said, straightening from the pie case.

“It is. My father’s joke. For thirty years. My other brother has it worse, whenever Dad sees him, he whistles the theme from Born Free. My brother can’t look at a lion without shuddering.” He sipped his coffee. “We don’t see him a lot.”

“That’s hard on your mom,” Lily said.

Fin smiled. “What a great thing to say. My mom is fine. She dumped my dad long ago, and we see her all the time. We all cheered when she left him.”

“All?” Lily said. “There are more than a Fin and two Bjorns?”

“Nope, my turn,” Fin said. “You’ve had your question.”

“I didn’t ask a question.”

“You said, ‘Is that a joke?’”

Lily considered it. He probably wouldn’t ask anything horrible. And if she had to answer a question, she could talk to him longer. He’d probably notice if she just leaned on the pie case and yearned for him.

Just hell, she thought. I’m falling for a Viking. Well, that was going to stop now.

“Why are you waitressing?” he asked, and that was an easy one, so she went down the counter and poured herself a cup of coffee and then went around to sit beside him.

It was good beside him. Warm. He was big, but he didn’t crowd. Kind of like sitting next to a shade tree. An oak.

“I have always worked at this diner,” she told him. “Van and I started here when we were in high school. Then we did our undergrad out at the university and kept this as our college jobs. When we graduated with our BAs, the job market wasn’t great and we could both get teaching assistantships in our specialties, so we went to grad school and that pays nothing, so we kept working here. Yes, I know we shouldn’t have gone to the same school for the MAs, but we like it here. And the school is good.” Lily sipped her coffee. It was hot and rich and good, and she thought, This is a good diner.


“This is a really good diner,” she told him.

“I know, I eat here often. So you got your MA . . .”

“And I took a job out at the college as an adjunct, which pays nothing, while I looked for something permanent, and of course I needed another source of income, so I kept working here. By that time, Cheryl considered me part of the décor, so I had a lot of flexibility in my scheduling. Vanessa had her MBA and she saw the diner as a kind of petri dish. Cheryl, as you may have noticed, is not averse to change, so Vanessa’s been running a diner experiment for the past five years. Between Cheryl and Vanessa, this really is a good diner. Vanessa has a cookbook out now, it’s doing really well, and she’s working on her second one, and she says that working the kitchen keeps it real for her. This is her career.”

“My question was about you . . .”

Lily used her coffee to stall for time, trying to find the easiest way to get through the next part. “I got a research job. Something bad happened. I was placed on temporary leave, so I’m working the diner full time because, while I still have benefits, I do not have a salary. Also I like it here. This diner is home. It’s a safe, warm place with food. I belong here.”

“I can see that,” Fin said. “The diner isn’t just great because of Cheryl and Van. You’re here, too.”

Lily smiled in spite of herself and gave a little shrug. Then she went back to her coffee cup. That was one safe place, that coffee cup.

“What was the bad thing that happened?” Fin said softly.

“Nope, it’s my turn,” Lily said. “You got your answer.”

Fin nodded. “Fair enough. Go.”

“Why are you following Bjorn around?”

Fin blinked. “I’m not following Bjorn around.”

“You are a successful illustrator. You could be anywhere. But you came to this podunk college town and you stick with Bjorn and you watch him constantly, and he does whatever you tell him to.”

“Now how do you know all of that?” Fin said, drawing back a little, as if he wanted to see her better.

“I can google,” Lily said. “Also that’s another question from you, so just answer the first one there, truth-teller.”

“It’s not my truth, it’s his,” Fin said.

“Oh. Okay.” Lily got up.

“Wait.” Fin closed his eyes and sighed, and then spoke faster. “Something bad happened to Bjorn, too. He needs some help right now. He got the job out at the university, and the family was concerned about him being on his own. I can work anywhere, so I came along.”

“You’re baby-sitting him?”

“No,” Fin said. “I’m his sober companion.”

“Oh,” Lily said. “Oh, I’m sorry, you’re right, that’s none of my business.”

Fin shrugged. “He’d probably tell you if you asked. He’s pretty cheerful about it.”

“He’s pretty cheerful about everything,” Lily said, as Van stuck her head out of the kitchen.

“You, the one goofing off with the Viking. A little help here.”

“Gotta go,” Lily said.

“Hey,” Fin said as she went behind the counter again. “That was nice, what you said about my mom, being worried about her.”

“Well, she has to be a great person,” Lily said. “Look at you.”

Then she escaped down the counter to the kitchen, sneaking one look back as she went through the door.

He was watching her, a half smile on his face, so she gave him a quick little wave and went into the kitchen.

“You have Viking lust,” Van said.

“I do not,” Lily said. “But, oh, he’s darling.”

“The dishes are not and Mike has left early,” Van said. “I’ll help bus the tables, but I really need–”

“Of course,” Lily said, picking up a dishpan. “I’ll hit the dishes right away and then go bus what’s left. I’ll lock the doors, too. If anybody wants in, they can knock.”

“It’s okay,” Van said. “Don’t lock the Viking in. Unless, you know . . .” She wiggled her eyebrows.

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Lily said, but when she went back out into the diner half an hour later, she was a little disappointed that Fin was gone, his usual five buck tip stuck under the paper clip of the specials list.

She pulled the bill out and looked at the specials menu under it. He’d drawn the waitress again, holding a cup of coffee, but this time there was somebody standing beside her, a big guy, holding an umbrella over her while the rain came down in straight lines around them, not touching her.

Oh, god, she thought, and then realized that she must have said it out loud because Van came out to see what was wrong.

She was trying not to cry, but the idea of somebody taking care of her had pretty much knee-capped her and the drawing was all blurry now, so she handed it to Van, waiting for her to say something snarky so she could laugh and stop feeling so much. When Van didn’t, Lily looked at her.

“I think you’d better reconsider your stance on Vikings,” Van said.

Lily wiped her eyes on her apron and took the specials list back. “Maybe.”

She looked at the drawing again. The guy with the umbrella had a helmet on. It had horns.

Not historically accurate.

But darling.

“Oh, just hell,” Lily said.

92 thoughts on “Lily 3

  1. Oh please, keep the sketches coming. I do love Lily, Van and Fin already.
    And i don’t care if this turns out to become a book or not, it’s such a pleasure anyhow.

    xxx doris

  2. That was lovely. I really liked Fin heading off Bjorn over Lily, and I love Fin seeing that Lily has shadows, and I just adored the drawing he did of Lily and the Viking with the umbrella and the effect that it had on her.

    1. And now I’m side-eyeing my poor quarantined husband, wondering why a. he’s not a Viking, and b. why he’s never drawn me a cartoon.

  3. Very sweet! I really like it.

    Umm, you know, you don’t need a humongo conflict involving reincarnation and stuff like that. You might like to “not” write a straightforward romance. This Lily seems softer than the one who met Nadia.

    Of course, it’s fun to imagine what Lily did to get temporarily suspended (?) from her job. Whack a Viking? Insult a Viking? Throw an ax (at a Viking)?

    I think the biggest difference between the Viking Age (793-1066 in Britain which really isn’t an end because the Normans were Vikings) and 2020 is the level of violence. Sure, we have guns and bombs and refugee camps, but in early times beating, pillaging, and rape were common everywhere, and Vikings, Brits, Angles, Saxons, et al were doing it.

    My point is that the sheer terror of recalling that time would be enough to totally freak Lily out. So her experience of bouncing between, say, 800 and 2018 could completely change her. Maybe that’s what I’m trying to say — Lily before reincarnation memories would be a different woman from Lily after reincarnation memories. And, the concept of a potentially good Viking would change radically from the moment she first recalled living in 800.

    Okay, what if Lily met Fin before she discovered that she’d been reincarnated then saw him again afterwards?

    1. Yeah, reincarnation is turning into a mess here, but it must be important.
      I have no idea what happened with Seb.

  4. Gosh, I’m all swept up in this! I particularly like that Fin sees the shadows in Lily’s eyes. I understand what you say about info dump, but it didn’t read that way. It was conversation, and two people getting to know each other. It probably don’t make a final version of the non-book, but it was definitely fun getting to read.

    I like the hints about the other guy, crowding into her space.

    And, I like the reasoning behind her still working at the diner. Thanks for that! My take away is that Lily is practical, and empathetic.

    Bjorn Free and Bjorn Again. That’s a laugh!

  5. Maybe she has to go to a therapist because the school is mandating it to keep her job? And she has to find a therapist that works with her, otherwise it’ll never work and she’ll never get her job back?

    Can we see the scene with Sebastien next? And should he be some form of viking?

    1. I don’t think so. I think the Viking contingent is pretty well held down with Fin and Bjorn.
      I kind of like the Celt thing that keeps coming up in the comments. Seb’s dark. Hmm, I don’t have a placeholder for Seb.

      1. “Seb’s dark”, the Spanish also invaded Ireland and I think that’s where the term Black Irish comes from.

        1. Any chance of further along in the story there will be a Viking reenactment scene?

          1. I would say no, but I do know now that Lily worked as a researcher for a teaching museum, so anything is possible.

      2. See’s dark. Hummmm. I see Set as a nerdy Richard Gere, back when Richard was still dark and not white.

          1. I saw ‘See’s dark’ and immediately went to See’s candy that’s made here in L.A. Kicking myself because I didn’t buy five pounds of it before they had to suspend operations.

  6. I love them! Fin is awesome and Lily shines for me. Van and Bjorn are already characters that I feel are real.

    So sweet, funny, and romantic!

    It’s so fun to see these scenes. : )

  7. So Vanessa seems to be financially stable with the cookbooks selling well, but unless she’s sharing that money, how much stress is Lily under about student loans? If the diner is primarily serving students, they’ll be running very close to the margins, unless they get frequent enough foodie customers to pay larger tips.

    Loved the Fin POV. Excellent conveying of personality, and his dynamic with Bjorn was cute.

    Now I’m thinking about Vanessa participating in kind of “street racing, but for cooking” competitions, which would provide a setting that could trigger Lily’s memories of more stressful Viking attack times, with all of the yelling/cheering and fire and smoke and knives and slabs of meat and rushing for ingredients and people in leather jackets/pants and such, especially if Fin’s family is really getting into the atmosphere.
    And it would strongly contrast with a quiet Academia/Monastery setting where Lily and Fin can connect over art.

    1. Yeah, I don’t think the cookbook can be out yet. She’s just finished it.

      The thing about cookbooks is that unless you’re a celebrity chef, they don’t make much money. But it would drive traffic to the diner. So that needs a lot more cogitating.

      Discovery draft: there will be mistakes.

    1. Somebody was talking about cellphones not working in the diner and I thought, “Faraday cage.” Or just really bad reception because of the buildings around it, but that seemed weaker.

      A Faraday cage is an enclosed space that through one means or another blocks electromagnetic waves, aka shuts down cellphones and internet services. It’s a little more complex than that (a lot more) but the bottom line is, your devices are blocked. I used to stay at an apartment in the Village in NYC that had a hallway that was a Faraday cage. It was an old brownstone, and the hallway had been reinforced at some point in its history with metal rods, and the staircase was wrought iron, and some how the combination had inadvertently created a Faraday cage and made the hallway a dead zone. I figured something like that could have happened in the diner.

      Except I think it’s not needed, probably. It’s one of those things we put a pin in and move along, and if the need arises it’s there. Otherwise, it goes.

      1. I would think that not being able to get on the internet or get a call while at the diner would have a significant effect on how often the college crowd came in.

        1. Depends on the food and the crowd. We used to sit around a table in a local bar (Larry’s) and talk for hours. Of course we were grad students. And progressively drunk. We talked about dumb things, like “What’s the classic in your field that you’ve never read?” Mine was Moby Dick. Somebody else’s was The Scarlet Letter, which boggled my mind because it was so short. You can power through The Scarlet Letter. Moby Dick, on the other hand, is full of fish.

          1. Oh, I could never power through Scarlet Letter – and was supposed to read it two different times in high school. And then turned around and did a real-life Hester Prynne, so…that. Don’t recommend, should have stuck with the book.

        2. When I was in undergrad four years ago, we cared if there was wifi/ cell coverage in coffee shops, because that’s where we did homework. But a lot of college (in my experience) is actively avoiding doing homework, so I don’t think we cared about it any place else. More important was: do they have cheap stuff on the menu and will they let us hang out for hours? After that it was proximity to campus, divided by how packed it already was with other students you wanted to avoid.

      2. I know some buildings that have cell reception issues because they were right next to hiking-level hills. Might be useful if that “fall off a cliff” flashback stays.
        Most diners offer free wifi now, though.

      3. Maybe Cheryl created the Faraday cage on purpose, in a crusade against cell phones?

          1. I was thinking more technology based, a blocker of some sort… Not assigning her cosmic powers 🙂

          2. I know, but I don’t think Cheryl would know a Faraday cage if she fell into one. She emotional, not technical.

      4. My Mom’s house is basically a Faraday cage. She’s got the older, thicker aluminum siding on the whole house. Standing by a window helps, usually, with cell phone reception.

  8. Oh gosh I loved this. The interaction between the brothers was particularly fun.

    I have only two comments. First the coffee thing. My Swedish (well, American daughter of Swedes) grandma was shocked when she came to stay with me for a week and learned that my mother had never taught me to drink coffee. It seems to be a Swedish obsession these days as well, so I was kind of surprised by the idea that Fin would hate coffee, plus that he would drink it anyway.

    Second the pink outfits. I’ve been envisioning the diner staff wearing pastel aqua, which is what they all wear at the Tastee (except the cooks, who wear gray with grease spots). Pink kind of seems too girlish for Lily, although that’s probably just me.

    1. I think that’s the point. The fact that the girlish uniform doesn’t become Lily emphasizes that she is not your typical waitress.

      1. Also, it’s a uniform. People don’t tend to get much say in that, whether it suits them or not.

    2. Lots of blue or green-eyed redheads (all shades) in my family and all the females like to wear pink and most of them look awful in it. Its like it turns their skin really pink. Of course, Lily is a brown-eyed redhead so she probably doesn’t have that semi-albino shade that many in our family have. It’s like I have a 6 ft tall sister who instead of embracing her size wears lots of frilly things and bitty jewelry when she would look truly amazing in large chunky jewelry and clothing with some drama. Go figure. I just look nondescript whatever I wear.

  9. Thank you! I loved it. Especially him drinking coffee he doesn’t want to get her to come over. I don’t know why I love men doing stupid shit/ mildly suffering to get women’s attention, but I do.

    My questions for what’s next: Who’s the guy she was talking to outside of the diner? Unless you answered that in Lilly 1, in which case my question is “How does Fin find out who he is, and how’s he going to complicate the story next?” Also, Lilly seems softer in this scene, which I liked, so I guess my question is what happened in between Lilly 2 and Lilly 3 to get her to the crying over a napkin stage of soft?

    1. 1. The guy is Sebastian her old boss/boyfriend. I have scenes with him but you haven’t seen them. That’s where Fin meets him, too.

      2. I know, that’s why I said a while back that Lily was getting too wimpy. I have a much better grip on Fin’s character than I do on Lily’s but that’s okay, that’s what discovery drafts are for.

      1. Also, I am never my best self after a session with a therapist. Even a good one, or especially a good one makes for an emotional and difficult session.

        Of course I am always jittery after a mammogram too, and those ladies are wonderful. It’s just me.

  10. This has rekindled my faith in my romance-loving heart. I’ve been in a reading slump (really saddened by a lack of heroine’s I like and want to root for …), and this reminded me of why I fell in love with this genre in the first place. Thank you 🥰

  11. This. This is perfect. A wonderful antidote to all the darkness in the world right now.

    I agree the second scene is not info dump. It shows the relationship growing between Lily and Fin, moves the story forward, and Lily /the relationship are in a different place at the end of the scene. Isn’t that what a scene needs to do?

    1. Yes. It just feels like people trading information to me.
      But then it’s discovery draft, so that’s okay.

      1. Trading information is how we get to know each other. It takes time to learn from observation and we have to do something until then if we want to get a feel for who a person is.

  12. Much to my frustration I cannot draw. If I could draw, I would sketch:

    1) Fin sitting at the counter with 12 empty cups in front of him and another cup in his hand. Behind him a shadowy figure stands in the doorway.

    2) Lily standing next to a cake display case, because you can write messages on top of a cake. Beware of Vikings bearing gifts.

    3) It would have to be the drawing of Fin and Lily under the umbrella. I can see why it melted Lily’s heart.

    Those three images have been stuck in my head since I read the above a couple of hours ago. I really like your information dump.

  13. See, it doesn’t feel like an info dump, because they are legitimately finding out about each other. What they choose to share (or skirt around) and how carries the info shared and progresses the relationship. IMHO

    Also it shows there are things we don’t know yet, which also mitigated the info dump feeling, without adding that horribly irritating “foreshadowing” so beloved of mediocre writers.

  14. Does Thorfin have an established middle name? Given his father’s scents of humor, I expect something like “Tuna,” or some play on two. After all, there are bluefin and yellowfin tuna.

    1. His mother named him. His father demanded the right to name the next one, which was twins, and he named them while she was asleep after delivery. She named the next baby: Elsebet. The last little girl, Dad named. I have no idea what.

        1. I thought about Hel. And she could tell people it was Helen. But I haven’t put much thought into it because the sisters aren’t in this. I think.

  15. Very enjoyable

    Can believe a father naming twins Bjorn, some people take Dad jokes much too far.

    Like that poor girl, who’s parents called her Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii, the judge actually took guardianship from her parents to change it, because of the detrimental effect on her life.

    1. My mother was appalled because there was a family in town who named their daughter Christa Shanda Lear. People will do anything.

      1. I’m sure I’ve mentioned that when the late wife and I were discussing the future dotter’s name, one of my suggestions was Brandy Alexandra. She won the first name. Jennifer, as a matter of fact.

        1. My eldest son’s suggestion for naming our youngest son was Casserole. Or Fludger. We didn’t go with either of those options, but they both think it’s hilarious now.

          1. My eldest granddaughter wanted to name her little sister Dinosaur Pants. I loved that.
            They went with Emmylou instead, and I also love that.

      2. We get a fair amount of Shithead’s around here. Pronounced Shi-theed. I kid you not. Oh, and I got a Felony, and Metallic when making library cards.

  16. Jenny, I’ve had a smile on my face ever since I read these this morning, and just went back and re-read them.

    1. Did we met Seb somewhere before? Will we meet him soon?
    2. What kind of research is Lily involved in, that she does with an MBA??
    3. What bad thing happened to Bjorn? Hopefully, he tried to murder his Dad and couldn’t pull it off? (Jeez, Dad humor at its worst!!!)
    4. Where’s the cat??

    Thanks for writing these, I now anticipate Mondays!

    1. 1. I’ve met him (I have more scenes than I’m showing here) but I can’t remember if you have. Lily’s boss/ex-boyfriend Sebastian.
      2. She’s not an MBA, that’s Vanessa. She’s got an MA, or possibly an MFA. She’s employed by the university’s museum, which is a teaching museum, the kind designed for kids with activities and displays, not a lot of valuable stuff in it. I think the university has a good teaching program. No, I haven’t put a lot of thought into this.
      3. Bjorn has a substance abuse problem that got him into trouble. What? I dunno.
      4. The cat was home in the apartment, although he took a trip to a park with Lily. Trouble ensued. I don’t have a grip on the cat, either. DISCOVERY DRAFT!

      1. You try to take my cat to the Park and more than trouble would ensue. We would see blood.

        But the neighbor had a cat that follows her everywhere, usually to my house where the cat came in to eat my cats’ food, tried to join the group snuggling on my lap and indicated that I could use another cat. The neighbor was not amused.

  17. This is maybe the most trivial thing in the scene, but it was the thing that tugged on my sleeve and made me stop reading for a moment to consider it: If both twins are named Bjorn, and the family calls this one Bjorn (as they apparently do), what do they call the other one? What name does he actually go by in his everyday life?

    Also, Lily somehow seems to magically know that this Bjorn is the second twin without being told.

    1. I’ll have to check, but I think the Bjorn Again probably tipped her that he was second.

      The first Bjorn changed his name, so he’s not Bjorn any more.

      1. Right, but Fin doesn’t say whether Bjorn is the first or second twin, just that the first one is Bjorn Free and the second is Bjorn Again. Lily is the one who identifies him as Bjorn Again. (Compressed version of the dialogue below:)

        “You know my brother, Bjorn? He’s a twin. Guess what his twin’s name is. Bjorn. He named them both Bjorn. Do you know why? So he could call the second one Bjorn Again.”

        “He actually named Bjorn ‘Bjorn Again’? What did he name the first twin?”

        (These scenes were a lot of fun to read, by the way, since I didn’t say it before.)

        1. His middle name is Bert, and he’s in a band, so whenever someone yells “Play Freebird!” he can respond, “Someone call me?”

  18. Thank you for this. I was just about to go to bed because I’m so bored with myself (It’s 6 pm) and you rescued me.

    I think people can be hard and soft at the same time.

  19. I love that Fin uses drawings to connect with Lily.

    And I love how your character sat down to have a cup of coffee and tell you about herself, even though in the book you’re not writing this info would not be dumped.

    Thanks for letting us watch you discover!

    1. He looked like Fin.

      It’s amazing how long you can stay with a good-looking guy who only has one (huge) flaw. Or so I’m told.

  20. This all is absolutely fun.

    Methinks Lily encountered some historical artifact that created a past-life flashback. One that occurred in front of a high-school tour group. Another researcher intervened before it went to too far. But it was enough for a helicopter parent to insist she be fired. Researchers who actually want to stay in the podunk uni town are hard to come by, so the Dean suspended her pending investigation aka when things calm down and the parents forget. Lily is also required to go for therapy.

    1. I think that it is important that Lily chooses therapy in this one. Agnes had court mandated therapy, and that worked for her, but it adds to my understanding of Lily that she went for it on her own. She knew she needed help and making the decision to find it is hard. There is such a stigma in our culture against it…

  21. What if Fin has a concept for an illustrated manuscript which he wanted to create, but he needs some piece of information — certain dyes or something — that’s been lost since the year 1000? Therefore, he needs Lily to find a way to search back into a past reincarnation to look for a detail she didn’t notice at the time. Maybe she was working on a manuscript with the Viking-era Seb when the Viking attacks came. (Maybe she automatically assumed that her attacker was a Viking and only returning to the experience makes her realize it was Seb.) She has been urged by Nadia to search back to her Viking experience to figure out what has made it come to urgently haunt her. When she “returns” to that past life, she finds that Fin is there, too. She fixes something for him, solves her own fracturing reincarnation-time problem, and brings back the recipe for the dyes. Voila.

    1. I don’t think she can search back. This isn’t time travel. She only has memories.
      What memories? I dunno. Sigh.

  22. Well, I hope you’re at least having fun with this not going to be a book, because this excerpt pulled me back from the abyss, whither I was teetering after seven pp. of editing an academic proposal from a woman who writes the way she speaks, which isn’t good at all. She’s paying me, which is good, but still, there are only so many incomplete sentences, not to mention incoherent sentences, a woman can take, on top of COVID-19 news, and I don’t have any more of your novels here, so many thanks.

  23. I realise that these Bjorn Free and Bjorn Again names are supposed to be lame jokes, but don’t these so-called Vikings know about Umlauts? Then again, I seem to remember you saying that you are of pure German descent, Jenny, and you apparently don’t know about Umlauts either. I’m neither German nor Swedish, but I did learn German in school, and I do know that Swedes spell the name Björn, and that it is pronounced as ‘Bjurn’. This is because Umlauts change the pronunciation of vocals (hence the name, Umlaut means sound change). So to my ears the joke is not only stupid, but it also falls flat.
    It is not going to be a book – I know – but I can just see your translators scratching their heads thinking: now how do I make this palatable?

    1. Not pure German. Great-grandma was Swiss and I’ve never looked to see who else is in the tree.
      Not worrying about umlauts. We don’t even have an anatagonist, umlauts would just be swanning around.

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