Today’s excerpt comes from part three of my trilogy, Society of Night and Lies. This one takes place eleven years after the first book. Much has happened in the years between, a good portion is covered in book two which is to be re-written. Just to note, this story was my second NaNoWriMo novel and is still quite raw.
Time has healed many emotional wounds but not all. Sabrina hasn’t come to terms with the deaths of her friend and her husband though some things have happened in the interim. She is visited by her old friend, Jason Foxworth six years after he had disappeared unexpectedly to rekindle what had grown between them. He is in for a big surprise.
It was nearly noon before gabrielle finally crawled out of bed and wandered down into the kitchen to fix her morning coffee. She barely took notice of the cooks bustling about fixing the midday meal and preparing the night’s feast. She almost didn’t hear the cheerful greetings from the senior cooks pr the nervous mumblings from the new hires as she walked through and fixed her drink. It was all the same to her; a habit she rarely broke and was comfortable with.
Her chair was still by the window where she left, but this time there was a note addressed to her resting on the seat. She picked it up while she took a sip and sat down to enjoy her morning absolution. As she settled in to her waking routine, she opened the letter and read it. A smile slowly formed once she realized who it was from then set it aside to finish her coffee.
Before she was half way through reading, a young boy that looked more fox than cat scampered out from under one of the main preparation tables and hugged her legs with a happy squeal, “Momma! You’s awake! Yay!” then the impish lad looked up at her and grinned, “We’s gotta a guest, momma. He’s outside with Uncle Joseph and Shell-Shell.” He ignored the humor filled grumbling of the chefs when he nearly tripped them in his exuberance.
Laughing, the black cat looked down at her adorable son and nodded, “I know he’s here, Jass. Thank you for telling where he is. Now, be a good boy and let him and your uncle know I’ll be there in just a little bit. Mommy needs to finish her breakfast and freshen up.” She then tousled her son’s hair and sent him on his way with a pat on his rump before she finished up her coffee and headed back up stairs to bathe and dress with the note clenched in her hand.
Almost an hour went by before the cat made her way down to the formal gardens where she knew Joseph and Jason were waiting. She took her time so she could gather her thoughts and consider the things she wanted to talk to him about. There was no way she could tell right then if Jason knew about his son or not. She had no way of knowing if Joseph said anything or not to him or if the boy even spoke to the silver fox.
Thinking of her son, whom she named after his father, always made her smile. He was a joy to have though she had almost lost him during birth. Jass was all that she had left after the fox left without warning or even a note saying why he had gone. Until now, the boy only heard stories about his father when she felt in the mood to talk about him. Now, Jason was back. But for how long, she didn’t know.
Once outside she noticed her son and Meeshelle playing near the fountain in the courtyard. She had to set those thoughts and the misgivings she had aside. The bright summer’s day conspired to brighten her mood to get her through all that was about to happen. Not a cloud was in the sky and the gentle breeze carried the scent of the high mountains.
As gentle as the breeze was, it still toyed with the hem of the short dress she wore; making the tiny floral design dance about like the ruffles on the loose sleeves and neck line. When Jason and Joseph glanced her way, they were caught unaware by the view she presented to them. She was a vision of summer beauty to them until she walked close enough to see the shocked gaze on the fox’s face and the wry grin the mink had.
“Sa.. Sabrina? Is that you?” stammered the fox when he finally got his wits together enough to speak then stood and walked over to her with open arms.
Gabrielle returned the hug while both she, and Joseph, chuckled at Jason’s reaction. “I’m Gabrielle now, Jason.” she finally said to him after he let her go and leaned back to look her over, finally noticing that she wasn’t the same out of the clothes he was used to seeing her in. “I don’t need to hide anymore so I went back to my real name.”
“Yes,” stated the mink, “Gabrielle has changed a lot over the years since your last visit. Changed for the better I would say. Wouldn’t you, comrade Jason?”
Jason could only nod his agreement while he looked the black cat over several times and mentally beat himself for leaving. His old friend and former girlfriend had definitely changed a lot since he last saw her. He had changed a lot as well while he was away but whether it was for the better or worse, he couldn’t tell. “So… what have you both been doing all these years,” the fox asked the both of them as he took his seat. His eyes never left the cat. As far as he was concerned, the years had been very kind to her even if the emergence of a few white hairs could be seen.
Joseph grinned at the fox, knowing how he must be feeling. He was the same while he was courting his long dead wife. Seeing another with the same expression brought back those memories, but he didn’t let on as he spoke. “Business as usual, comrade. With the clean up from the Great War almost finished, I stand to make a greater profit from the domestic sales.”
Rolling her eyes, the cat smirked then said, “That is all he thinks about, Jason. Profit, profit, profit. But, his business sense has allowed us to live comfortably. The children couldn’t be happier though if you listen to Meeshelle, you would think she was being tortured by her tutors.”
All three of them laughed for a minute or two before Jason commented, “Isn’t that the way it is with all kids when it comes to school? I was pretty much the same.” then, his smile faded as something about what Gabrielle said sunk in fully, “Did you say… children, Sabs?”
The laughter died as the cat nodded. “Yes, children. Meeshelle, who you know I helped her father raise, and Jass… my son.” Gabrielle watched as her words sank into the fox’s psyche. All she could see were his eyes widening with the realization before they clouded with regret.
Wisely, the mink sat back and stayed quiet. He had been after his feline friend to tell the fox about the boy for some time, but the cat always seemed to worm her way out of sending any notes, calls, or messages. Now, she had to tell him. The news hit the fox like a ton of bricks. He didn’t know what to say and had only noticed Meeshelle since he showed up earlier that day. The fact that his jaw hung open didn’t escape him, but the sinking feeling that he was too late addled his thoughts.
“A… a… a son? You have a son, Sabs?” he stammered out then shook his head and sighed, before mustering a wan smile, “Congratulations. I’m sure you and Joseph are very proud of him.”
Gabrielle kept her expression neutral, trying not to reveal too much while she spoke. “We are both very proud of him. He’s a very special little boy; so full of life and energy, just like his father,” then gave Jason a very pointed look.
Sensing that the cat was building up to actually telling, the mink simply nodded and remained quiet. It was purely up to her to say something, even if the way she was going about it was annoying. After being out of the cloak and dagger business, she still kept secrets and used subtle means rather than simply coming out with what she wanted to say.
Not catching any of the subtle hints or the meaning f her expression, Jason looked to Joseph and offered his gloved hand to him and grinned, “Well, then, I guess I should congratulate you…” The fox trailed off as he felt his heart sink lower and lower.
Waving his hands in front of him, Joseph chuckled, “No, no… no need to congratulate this old mink. I only help raise the boy.” His smile grew, more out of good-natured humor at the discomfort Jason was feeling.
Once more shocked, the fox stared at Joseph then looked at the cat again. “Not… his?” He couldn’t believe what he was hearing, but he knew he didn’t see anyone new hanging around the mansion; unless they weren’t there for some reason.
Gabrielle slowly nodded as she smoothed out her skirt and crossed her legs after taking the empty seat Joseph offered to her. Before she answered the fox, she looked over her shoulder and called out, “Jasser! Come here, please. I have someone for you to meet.”
The little boy came almost immediately with Meeshelle walking along behind him to make sure he wasn’t going to trip or fall. A smile replaced the neutral expression as her child came to her. Dressed in a simple red shirt and denim shorts, Jass was a typical little boy.
The blend of fox and cat made him look quite a bit like his adopted uncle, even down to the dark gray fur. Cat-like eyes and a fox-like tail made him look so adorable that Sabreela couldn’t help but to smile at him. Jass bounced right into her open arms and gave his mother a big hug before she turned him around gently and spoke next to his ear, “Jass, I want you to meet your father.”