Lily 7 1/2

Normally by now I’d have figured out what the hell was going on at the museum, but since this isn’t going to be a book, I can just keep noodling around. Why can’t you just noodle around for a book? Because one of the many reasons people read fiction is to get a tidier version of reality. A book that just meanders, listening to people talk, gets annoying very quickly. This stuff is starting to annoy, especially since every scene with Seb in it has the same damn dialogue–Structure Rule #47 You Cannot Arc What You Do Not Know–but I’m getting the impression that you’re reading these more as short stories than pieces of a novel, so that’s good.

Still, I am feeling the need to put some grit in the oyster, so to speak, so when a new character showed up out of nowhere, I noodled.

I have a rule about not adding new characters after the first act, or at least no characters that haven’t been introduced or foreshadowed. No idea what most of the turning points are yet because I have no idea what the damn plot is, but I like the idea of Lily and Fin ending the first act with their fall, so I’m thinking the Guy in the Black Suit has to show up before Fin gives her the glasses, lurking in the background of some of the scenes you’ve already read. Well, I knew I had to add some diner regulars, so those add-a-character rewrites were always in the cards. But as rough structure, the beginning pieces in today’s stuff happens before the end of Act One, then Lily goes to give the glasses back at the end of Act One, then the rest of this stuff is in Act Two.

See, I have a plan. Kinda. Here, have a new character. Still no plot, and none of the pieces below are complete scenes, so this stuff goes nowhere, but since it was in my brain . . .


Cheryl caught Lily at the end of the dinner rush on Tuesday night. “New guy at booth one. What do you think?”

Lily looked over and saw a middle-aged man in a black suit with his back against the wall in the first booth, definitely not the usual Surprise customer. Well-dressed, moderately attractive in a stern way, sharp-featured, his hair graying at the sides, his jawline still mostly close to the bone.

“Professor?” Lily said, and then looked closer and thought, No. Professors came in all sizes and styles, but they usually did not have dead eyes. This guy looked like he’d risen from the grave. “Kind of grim.”

“Carrying, too,” Cheryl said.

Lily looked at her, wide-eyed. “He has a gun?”

“Shoulder holster.” Cheryl patted her shoulder. “He’s not going to rob us, he’s not the type.”

“Oh, well, that’s good to know,” Lily said. “How about going nuts and shooting up the place?”

“Nah,” Cheryl said. “He’s not crazy. I know crazy. He’s calm and hungry. So we feed him and he goes away.” She turned back to the kitchen. “He’s probably just a hit man, and nobody here has annoyed anybody enough to get killed.”

Lily looked at the black suit guy. “I might have. Seb’s pretty upset and his uncle is in a snit.”

“Louis?” Cheryl snorted. “Louis wouldn’t have the balls to put out a contract.”

“Seb might,” Lily said.

“We should do something about Seb,” Cheryl said, and put the black suit’s order in.


The next night, Fin sat down across from the black suit.

The suit regarded him calmly.

“The gun,” Fin said carefully, “is alarming the waitresses.”

“The redhead,” the suit said.

“Yes,” Fin said.

“The little blonde doesn’t appear concerned.”

“It takes a lot to knock Cheryl off her game.”

“Tell the redhead not to worry,” the suit said. “I’m not here for her.”

“If you could leave the gun at home,” Fin began, and the suit shook his head slowly. “Look–”

“Your name is Thorfin Anderson, an illustrator, presently finishing a commission for a writer named Stephen Corrigan. The man sitting with you is your brother, Bjorn, who works at the university, lecturer in literature. The little blonde is Cheryl Frey and she owns this restaurant. The redhead is her cousin, Lilyanne Frey. You come here to look at Lilyanne. None of you are part of my current plan. You are safe to go about your business. Nothing will happen to you.”

“Story of my life,” Fin said.


At eleven, Lily took the trash out to the dumpster, and Seb stepped out from behind it as she threw the bags in.

“We need to talk,” he said, no smiles or faux charm this time, although it was hard to see him in the dark. Then he looked past her. “What do you want?”

Lily turned and saw the guy in the black suit coming toward them out of the darkness, looking at Seb with those flat black eyes.

She stepped back, trying to think of something soothing to say so she could get out from between them.

“You are Sebastian Lewis,” the suit said. “You work at the teaching museum, under your uncle, Louis Lewis. You once worked beside Miss Frey, but since she is now on leave, there is no reason for you to talk to her. Do not annoy her again.”

Seb looked at her. “You hired a bodyguard?”

“I don’t think so,” Lily said.

“Miss Frey and I are in a relationship,” Seb said.

“No, we’re not,” Lily said.

“We could be,” Seb said, exasperated, “if you’d just listen to me.”

“No.” Lily turned back to the suit. “Thank you very much for wanting to help, but I can handle this.”

“I don’t want to help,” the suit said. “I want to talk to Sebastian Lewis.”

“Oh.” Lily looked back at Seb. “We’re not going to find his body in the Dumpster later, are we?”

“No,” the suit said.

“Well, then, I’ll just get back to work,” Lily said, and set off at a fast clip for the kitchen door.

When she got there, she looked back.

The suit was standing close to Seb, who for once was looking unsure of himself.

Hell, she thought, and went in and told Cheryl, who went out to the counter and told Fin and Bjorn–“They’re Vikings, this is what they live for”—who went out and came back to report an empty parking lot.

“Did you look in the Dumpster?” Cheryl said.

“Yes,” Bjorn said. “No body.”

“Pity,” Cheryl said and went back to work.


“So how is Viking sex?” Cheryl said Sunday night, when the three of them were on her couch, eating Van’s signature Four-Cheese-and-Five-Vegetables-To-Be-Named-Later pizza and ignoring Netflix.

“I’m happy,” Van said.

“It’s very good.” Lily picked up a piece of pizza.

“Really?” Cheryl said. “Better than Seb?”

“Of course,” Lily said.

“Because you used to be fairly enthusiastic about Seb.”

Lily nodded. “In the beginning,” she said around her pizza.

Van and Cheryl looked at each other and then back at Lily.

“What happened?” Van said.

Lily chewed and frowned. “After the first month, it began to dawn on me that I was mostly there as an audience.”

Van stopped chewing. “He didn’t pay attention?”

“No, he did,’ Lily said, trying to be fair. “He always cared that I was getting there. It’s just that after a while I realized that he cared because he wanted the applause, not because he wanted me satisfied. It was an ego thing.”

Van went back to her pizza. “Isn’t it always?”

“No,” Lily said. “Is it with Bjorn?”

Van looked thoughtful as she chewed. “Little bit, maybe. I think it’s a different side to entertainment.”

“Entertainment?” Cheryl said. “I’ve always found sex entertaining. Well, there were a couple of guys who closed early, but in general.”

“Bjorn’s not looking for applause, but he wants me entertained. He wants me happy.” Van took another bite. “I usually don’t laugh that much during sex, but with him . . .” She thought for a moment as she chewed “For him, sex is fun. It’s play. I mean, he gets serious at the end, but I don’t see him ever getting dark and dangerous.”

“Not a 9 ½ Weeks kind of guy, huh?” Lily said.

Cheryl frowned. “I hate that movie. Don’t leave the refrigerator door open, people, it’s bad for the appliance.”

Vanessa nodded. “Sex combined with food is probably Bjorn’s idea of paradise. Mostly there’s just no ego there. It’s amusement park sex. Enjoy the ride and laugh with me.” She tilted her head to look at them. “It’s actually really good. I’m always happier after I’ve been with him. I take all the tense stuff to his apartment, and he makes it go away without getting heavy about it. I think the laughing might be as much of a relief as the sex.” She thought about it. “No, the sex is more, but the laughing is great. I really like him.”

“That’s it?” Lily said. “Like?”

“We’ve both been through some stuff,” Van said. “We’re just looking for a clean, well-lighted place to come our brains out, so we’re both content with like.”

Lily nodded. “Fin worries about him, but he’s trying to keep his hands off.”

“Which is easier now that he’s got his hands on you,” Van said. “You haven’t said much about him.”

“There’s not a lot to say.”

“Oh,” Van said.

“No,” Lily said. “It’s good. It’s very good. Good solid sex.”

Van shook her head and picked up another piece of pizza. “Boring.”

Lily frowned. “I got tired of Seb’s big productions, the whole ‘let’s try this,’ always looking to up his game, after a while it was just exhausting. Fin is not exhausting. Fin is satisfying. And . . . safe. If I wanted anything more, he’d give it to me, but right now, I just want good, solid, head-banging sex with a guy I trust.” She picked up another piece of pizza. “I have come to the conclusion that exciting is often not good. When I was younger, exciting was . . . exciting. Now it’s just annoying. I want my pulse racing, but not because I’m anxious or tense. I want it racing because I’m with a guy who’s everything I’ve ever wanted and who gives me everything I’ve ever needed.”

“Whoa,” Van said.

“Yeah.” Lily considered what she’d just said. “I may have overstated that. It’s just hard to say ‘He’s better than exciting.’ Because he is exciting. It’s just a quiet kind of exciting. Deep exciting. Steady exciting.”

“Contradiction in terms,” Van said around her pizza.

“And yet, still true. This is really good pizza.”

“All my pizzas are really good.”

“I know,” Lily said, “but it’s important not to take any of them for granted. This is very good pizza, and we should pay attention and not take for granted that since it’s your pizza, of course it will be good.”

“Kind of like the guys,” Van said.

“Yes. They are good guys. We should not take for granted.”

Van nodded. “Good point.”

Lily looked over at Cheryl. “You have become uncharacteristically quiet.”

“I’m thinking about having sex again,” Cheryl said.

Van raised her eyebrows. “Got anybody in mind?”

Cheryl frowned. “Maybe the black suit.”

“The hired killer?”

Cheryl shook her head. “I may have jumped to a conclusion there. I think he’s the law.”

Lily sat up. “The law?”

Cheryl shrugged. “Our choices are gun nut, hired killer, and the law. He’s not paranoid or a braggart and he does not appear to be compensating for a small penis, so that leaves either a hired killer or the law. And I don’t see hired killers hanging around for three weeks, asking for the ketchup.”

“The law seems more credible,” Van agreed. “I don’t think there are that many hit men just floating around.”

“It is New Jersey,” Cheryl pointed out. “But yeah, odds are he’s law.”

“So what is he doing here?” Lily said.

“Eating dinner,” Cheryl said. “Appreciating the pie. Possibly having sex with me.”

“So he’s got a full schedule,” Van said.

“The days are just packed,” Lily said.

Cheryl looked thoughtful and then nodded. “I will have to consider him. In the meantime, give me the basics about your love lives so I know if I approve. Do the Anderson boys go down?”

“Yes,” Lily said.

“With enthusiasm,” Van said.

“Do they get the job done?”

“Absolutely,” Van said.

“I’m responsible for my own orgasm,” Lily said.

“Do you have to be?” Cheryl said.

“No. Fin’s very good at completion.”

“Are they carping, critical, or controlling?”

“Most laid-back guy I’ve ever slept with,” Van said.

“Very open-minded,” Lily said. “Sex-positive. Hung like a . . .”

“Yes?” Cheryl said.

“ . . . a well-hung person.”

“You may sleep with them,” Cheryl said grandly.

“Thanks, boss,” Van said.

“Wait’ll I tell Fin,” Lily said. “He’ll be so happy.”

Cheryl nodded. “Now all I have to do is get the law into bed.”

“It’s a two-part process,” Lily said.

“You start by telling him you’re not a creeper pervert,” Van said.

“I don’t like to lie,” Cheryl said. “Can I just tell him I’m not a creeper?”

“Sure,” Lily said. “You do you.”


The next evening, the guy in the black suit motioned Lily over. He was looking a little confused, but then he’d just talked to Cheryl, so not surprising.

“Yes?” Lily said, bringing the coffee pot with her.

“The little blonde waitress just told me she’s not a creeper.”

“That’s Cheryl,” Lily said. “The creeper thing is the first part of a two-part pass.”

“I see,” the black suit said. “What’s the second part?”

“She asks you if you want to have sex. I’m Lily, by the way. And you are?”

He nodded. “Arthur Mortimer. Pleased to meet you. She couldn’t have started with the second part?”

“She wants you to feel safe.”

He regarded her for a moment. “Why wouldn’t I feel safe?”

“Cheryl is a very interesting woman,” Lily said. “But she does have an edge.”

“I live on the edge,” Mortimer said, deadpan.

“Well, play your cards right and you can have sex there, too.”

“Really.” He looked back at Cheryl, now explaining mindfulness to a very confused older couple. “What kind of cards am I holding, Lily?”

“All aces, Mr. Mortimer,” Lily said. “You don’t have a heart condition, do you?”


“Just checking. Very few of her lovers stroke out.”

“Good to know.”

Lily filled his coffee cup and went back behind the counter, leaving him looking bemused.

“What were you doing with my prey?” Cheryl said.

“Setting up your next move,” Lily said. “His name is Arthur Mortimer. Go ask if he wants to.”

“That fast?” Cheryl nodded. “I like this two-part pass thing. It’s efficient.”

Fin and Bjorn came in and Lily moved down the counter to them. “You’re late.”

“Sorry, Mom,” Bjorn said. “We had things to do.”

Lily leaned across the counter and Fin leaned, too, and she kissed him. “You can do me later,” she whispered.

“Planning on it,” Fin said. “What’s new?”

“The guy in the black suit is Arthur Mortimer, and Cheryl’s going to have sex with him.”
“Does he know?”

“Yes. She told him she wasn’t a creeper, and I tipped him that sex was next. She’ll be completing the pass shortly.”

“This diner is going to get a lot more popular once people figure out the special,” Fin said.

88 thoughts on “Lily 7 1/2

  1. Ok, that made me cackle.

    Btw, where is this set? I was sure someone mentioned Ohio earlier. Here Cheryl says New Jersey. I could be wrong because it’s been a while.

    1. New Jersey.
      First Meet: Lily says, “Vikings” and Fin says “Ohioans, we’re from Cincinnati.”

  2. Nice!
    The name Riley rang a bell, and I realised there’s a Riley in Fast Women. Did you pair him off permanently with Suze, or was it more of a fling on their part? I’ll have to do a re-read. So is this the same Riley, a bit older, or are the names just coincidence?

    1. I KNEW I’d used that name before, but I kept thinking it was Buffy instead. I’ll have to change that.

      1. I must admit that Buffy was my first thought, but I seemed to remember a Crusie Riley too, and some cogitation and googling brought him back.

        1. I really liked that name for this but it must be changed. Riley wasn’t anything like this.

          1. I dunno. If you can have three Nicks and Fin & Phin, then why not multiple Rileys? If he says he’s Riley, would he ever answer to any other name?

          2. Riley is a happy-go-lucky name, so it never really fit.

            Arthur Mortimer/Mortimer Arthur is plot. I just have to figure out the best configuration.

      2. NO! Riley is perfect for a lethal, bemused guy in a black suit. Change nothing. Please.

        1. As long as people see “Riley” and think “Suze,” it’s not going to work.

          1. I don’t remember Ford having dead eyes or graying hair, but I’ll have to do more work to distinguish him.
            Or not. Lots of people haven’t read Faking It.

  3. I just had hysterics at ‘ “I don’t like to lie,” Cheryl said. “Can I just tell him I’m not a creeper?” ‘

    Riley makes an excellent addition to the landscape, and I fully support Cheryl in her plans to seduce him. And I’m loving the way they’re all using the two part plan.

    1. Oh, so did I! I literally laughed aloud, no control, had to do it. The whole Creeper Meme is a keeper.

      1. I’m loving the way it’s become a marker for ‘You’re with us’ – if Lily has told Riley/not–Riley about the two part plan then she’s willing to consider him for a part of their team and she’s accepted him.

  4. I love Riley and I love the girl talk. It brings the sense of community that you do so well.

  5. I like these scenes best so far. I think it’s because the characters seem to have their own independent goals they’re pursuing, actively, but I’m not sure. Maybe I’m just in the right frame of mind.

    I think it’s because I’m not there yet with Fin falling for Lily – like Van explaining how Bjorn makes her feel, I need to know why Lily feels like that about Fin – I know this will come 🙂 I don’t know why the man in Black wants Seb, but I feel like he’s decent, competent, he helps Lily, but in pursuit of his own goals.

    Anyway, a long way off saying I like it. Of course, if that’s the Riley we already know and he has dead eyes because of something to do with Suze, well. I’d never be able to reread Fast Women again.

    1. A long way OF saying I like it, not off. Woah, when one f changes the whole meaning!

      1. Thank you for pointing that out. I’ve been asking myself, “WHAT Riley? I don’ see no steenkeen Riley!?!”

  6. So I know because you have told us (and I listen, I really do) that these are not part of a book, but they are such lively bits of a story that I do not care. I have a deep and abiding affection for your early drafts that you hate. They bubble along. You (I think?) find them meandering, sometimes repetitious, and feel like you have to dig the point of the scene out of it (correct me if I’m way off base there). For me they are a delightful peek into some new characters and different situations than the ones I am living right now.

    For an analogy, lemme try art. Your finished books are definitely large paintings, with under painting to assess values and shading and establish a palette and all the necessary details on display and all the unnecessary details shaded over or eliminated completely. But there is real delight in seeing pencil sketches of the piece before it was started, and pencil sketches are also a viable media for artwork in and of themselves. You are (if I may) delighting us with a series of quick pencil and ink sketches of a story using techniques we know and admire and love, and for some reason you keep apologizing that it is not a finished painting.

    We do not care. We, clearly, love this process and are grateful to you for showing us.

    that is all

    1. Remember the beginning of Nita with Mort when Nick was the Devil? Definitely preliminary sketch.

      1. I do remember, and I loved it then as much as I do now. It was a different thing.

        All the iterations get you closer to what makes you delighted with (or not irate with) your own work.

        I have a deep and abiding affection for work where I have to do more thinking. Most of my favorite graphic work from other people is very loose pen and ink work – the scritchy-ness and the corrections through iteration rather than erasing and redrawing, watching someone reaching for a concept or a depiction I find really exciting. It feels like watching you writing.

        1. I love watching people sketch to find the heart of the image. Which is a good thing since I started out as an art teacher and did a lot of watching,

          My favorite drawing lesson was negative spaces. Kids would look at a still life and see a pear and draw the pear in their heads, not the pear in front of them. So I’d make the draw the spaces in between the objects, the parts that weren’t there because those were abstracts and they’d have to actually draw the space in front of them. They loved it because their drawings were so much better.

          I think that’s basically my approach to romance writing, too. I don’t want long sections of people gazing into each other eyes talking about how much they love each other. I want air conditioners and stray dogs and food and drawings in the margins of the specials menu. The spaces in between the talk.

  7. I just had to laugh with the 1-2-3 of Van and Lily explaining the two part pass. and Cheryl saying “I don’t like to lie”.

    The flat eyes made me think he was a bad guy, but if Cheryl likes him, then he’s okay.

    Thanks for the additional scenes.

  8. The pass is becoming like the muffin/donut thing and I love it! XD the dead eyes did make me think evil character, so hard to turn him into someone Cheryl likes so quickly, but realistically there’s more time passing there.

  9. The two-part pass theme is really singing for me. I love it… and the line killed me: “This diner is going to get a lot more popular once people figure out the special,” Fin said.

    I am loving this process. Not looking down is certainly a great way to make art….

    Thanks for sharing.

  10. So Riley is Ford Brown! That makes sense. But a bit close – can’t he be a bit more of a cross between Ford and Joey/Shane? For some future story, it’d be fun to have a spin that the assassin is a woman – have you read any of Dana DeLeon’s Miss Fortune stuff? Fortune being a kick ass female CIA agent/assassin.

    1. Nope. Ford Brown was FBI and he didn’t look anything at all like Character-To-Be-Renamed-Later. No dead eyes.

      I’m not sure who this guy is, but he’s not the law and he’s not a hit man. Given the way these pieces are going, he’s some kind of hired fixer, working outside the margins (“I live on the edge”), in the dark, not illuminated.

      I don’t know what’s going on with that motif, but it does keep popping up.

      1. Insurance Investigator. Doesn’t care who did what to whom nor why. Just wants to determine the extent of the company’s liability.

    2. Is Ford Brown the undercover guy in Faking It? Because there was an echo for me, too. Which I’m sure will go away when he’s developed further.

      1. I think that it is just that he is quiet and competent. And possibly has a false name.

    1. Well, Bjorn is an English prof and it was Van’s minor.

      I’m toying with the idea of the black suit telling Lily his name is Mortimer Arthur. Bjorn and Van would have a good time with that, although Black Suit would have to be an idiot to do that in a college town. Unless he wanted the reference.

      1. Who is Mortimer Arthur? Someone in literature? Because I don’t remember the name, and I was an English major at one point. Of course, I don’t remember my name, half the time, so that doesn’t necessarily mean anything.

  11. On please have Clea stop a stop by. I would love to find out a snippet about how the the gang is doing. I bet she could have a thing with Uncle Lewis or someone else shady.

    1. I have no idea what Clea is doing, or even how old she is now since Nadine is in her early thirties. I don’t even know where she is, but I’m positive she wouldn’t be in a New Jersey diner or in a teaching museum.

  12. Off-topic for Lily, but not for Argh… a trio of Georgette Heyer books are on sale on Amazon right now: Frederica, the Grand Sophy, and Arabella. Search for Georgette Heyer’s Greatest Hits. Even if you own two of the three, as I do, it’s still cheaper than buying any one of them separately.

    1. I’ve been re-reading Heyer like mad. The Grand Sophy never fails.

      When I started writing a million years ago, I wanted to be love child of Georgette Heyer and Dorothy Parker. I thought if I could make anybody as happy as Heyer made me every time I picked up a book, I’d have justified the space I took up and the air I breathed. Parker was there for the razor wit and the layers upon layers upon layers (“Trapped like a trap in a trap”) but Heyer brought the relief.

      If you don’t have the books already, buy the bundle, Argh people.

        1. You would like The Talisman Ring and The Grand Sophy. Sophy in particular is a kickass heroine, and Sarah in The Talisman Ring is one of my all time faves, although it takes her awhile to get on stage. And they both get exasperated heroes they deserve. They’re fun.

          Warning: Like most historical, they start slow. And they’re both stories that establish communities, the family Sophy rescues and the band that forms in Talisman, so there’s a lot of set-up. And warning: Sophy has an anti-Semitic subplot, or at least a subplot that casts the only Jew in the book as a criminal lender, so I just skim that part.

          But I purely love the proposal at the end of Talisman, both the way he frames it and the way she answers. So not Romantic, but such a clue to how incredibly happy they’re going to be.

        2. So far as this bundle goes, Arabella was my first Heyer (and first adult book, aged 12), and is a good entree into her Regency world, since the heroine starts in a hard-up Yorkshire rectory and the world of aristocratic London is alien to her. And Frederica is another old favourite, with a great family (and dog) at its heart.

          1. Love Frederica. Arabella, not as much.
            My top three are The Grand Sophy, The Talisman Ring, and Cotillion (Freddy!).

      1. I was just lamenting that the libraries are still closed, b/c I want to re-re-re-read Devil’s Cub–the ending is just a French farce, and I love it.

        1. I just ordered Acting on Impulse, a collection of Heyer contemporary stories which were published in magazines. Also, I have to check to see which titles I already own of The Early Georgette Heyer Collection which contains The Transformation of Philip Jettan, The Black Moth, The Great Roxhythe, Instead of the Thorn, and A Proposal to Cicely.

          I added the Unfortunate Miss Fortunes to my order, too! I’m really surprised that I haven’t read that yet.

          These were all off Amazon.

  13. Oh boy, did this make me laugh. Thank you, Jenny, for making a stressful day a little easier to bear. I hope you are having as much fun writing it as we are reading it.

  14. Ooh! Ooh! and ooh! Love all these people. Except for Seb, Lewis and Jessica.

    1. You haven’t even met Jessica. Keep an open mind.
      Actually, I have to keep an open mind; too easy to fall into the another-vapid-blonde trap.

      1. I’d love for Jessica to be an underground cop, trying to figure out international art thefts 🙂

        1. I think Jessica has depths.

          What I really need to do is some noodling at the museum, probably in Dorothy’s PoV. She’s got to be fed up at this point, more clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am stuck in the. middle with Jessica.

          1. I was picturing her as either the antag of the museum, or the young competent ‘version’ that replaces Lilly. She’s good, not a bad person, and we only dislike her by she gained Lilly’s job. Lilly at first hates her, esp. for ruining the Viking display, but her competence wins over Lilly. And maybe she refuses Seb, a point in her favor.

  15. Love this! And was there a Calvin and Hobbes reference in there, or is Calvin and Hobbes referencing something else literary that I don’t know about with “The days are just packed”?

    And of course he is Cheryl’s type. She may be my favorite character at the moment.

    1. Yep, that’s Calvin and Hobbes. Lily loves Calvin and Hobbes. Of course, who doesn’t?

  16. Um, old engineer here; who is Mortimer Arthur to the college crowd? Unless this is a reference to Morte de Arthur, or however that is spelled?

    These snippets brighten my WEEK, Jenny; thanks so much for sharing!

  17. Is there any chance he’s Agent Coulson? I’m getting that image for some reason and I seem to remember you’re fond of the actor.

    1. I am fond of the actor and the character, but he’s too wry. I was thinking of Liam Neeson, I think, or another deadpan, spare-looking guy.

      1. Bill Pullman as he looks now, not as he looked in those beloved, decades-ago rom-coms?

  18. “He always cared that I was getting there. It’s just that after a while I realized that he cared because he wanted the applause, not because he wanted me satisfied. It was an ego thing.” Yep. Glad I didn’t marry that one!

    LOVE the continuing pass thing – I love your ability to demonstrate a community coming into existence.

  19. Love the noodling. Love the dialogue. Love haven’t something short and fun to read.

  20. HA! so much fun here. Thanks, Jenny!

    And thanks folks, I’m much better today. I just don’t know where that anxiety comes from sometimes.

  21. These were great.

    I have been thinking about art thief and how (apparently) most stolen art is used to secure drug deals and money laundering. The problem with this is by time the art is finally recovered, if it ever is, it is badly damaged from improper treatment. But what if the stolen art was properly treated and properly stored, like in a museum. And museums are receiving and sending art out all the time and know how to properly pack stuff. And museums have so much stuff in storage.

    This should be covered in some of your books on stolen art because I don’t know that I am getting it right. I am a little hazy on how you could make this work.

  22. I have more unsolicited museum advice. I’m thinking Lily must be a curator or exhibit designer unless she was a museum educator doing the curriculum/educational activities part of an exhibit (although every museum is different in terms of responsibility distribution). I would be very hesitant to date my boss, or any coworker in such a position. Not only is it iffy from an HR perspective, but finding a job like that in your own town is going to be hard and you wouldn’t want to jeopardize it. She would also be making a lot less than Seb (museums tend to be mostly staffed by women and most of the directors/heads are men, how surprising).

    There’s always things like the French public library that found out they had a First Folio when they were doing inventory – Seb/his uncle could realize they had something valuable that no one else knew about, or that had been misclassified somehow. Or they accepted stolen art by not doing due diligence with provenance paperwork or something.

  23. That was fun… reminds me of one of the more memorable lines in Castle

    “If you want to take advantage of a guy, just ask”

    Can see Arthur Mortimer, competent, mysterious and potentially questionable, he has the right kind of temperament to appreciate Cheryl. Maybe have someone check he is single, after all if Cheryl is going to give approval to the girls.

  24. I loved the whole discussion about “steady exciting.” That’s what I look for in reading (and writing) romance. I don’t care if the hero is alpha or beta or whatever – but I want the romance to have a solid core so you know that, when all the getting together hormones go back to normal levels or whatever, there is still fun and excitement and also foundation for a “real” life together.

    And I am also loving Cheryl. 🙂

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