Subject: Sooooooo coolio!
Date: 1 August 10:23pm
Hey chicky, I’m back from the trip to London. Ahmed at the Tongue and Groove club says hi (yeah, Holly’s brother Peter got us into the club, which is majorly coolio, let me tell you!). Anyhoo, when I got home last night, Brother was all I’ve got a secret. You know how I hate it when he does that. Why can’t I have a normal father? One that doesn’t play with medieval torture devices?
“Your secret is that you get turned on by thumbscrews?” I asked, watching with more than a little concern as Brother toyed with a reproduction thumbscrew (one of his fellow professors at Oxford has come up with a line of torture toys stuff based on the originals. Brother says it’ll make millions. I say why didn’t he think of that so we could have millions?).
“No, of course not,” he said, his Unibrow all scrunched up into a frown.
“Because if you and Mom are getting into kinky stuff, I don’t want to know about it,” I warned. “I’m only just managing to forget that horrible thing that Mom said to me last year.”
His Unibrow furrowed even more. “What horrible thing?”
“That you guys have a healthy sex life. Bleh.”
Brother sighed and looked upward for a couple of seconds, like he was praying or something. “Emily, why does every conversation I have with you end up being about sex?”
“Because you’re obsessed with it,” I said gently, and even patted him on the arm so he wouldn’t think I hated him for it. “But that’s OK, I’ve learned to live with it. So which of you is the boss, and which the grunt?”
He blinked at me. “What?”
“Which of you is the dominate partner, and which the submissive?
His eyes did that Ricky Ricardo bugging out thing, which, combined with the Unibrow, kind of makes him look like a pug dog. An old one. “Dominate? Submissive? Where did you hear that?” he roared.
I held up my hand to stop him in case he thought about charging (he looked kind of deranged, like he might). “Brother, this is the twenty-first century, not the first! Everyone knows about kinky stuff like that!”
His hand ruffled through his hair, which probably would have formed his usual hair horn, but did I tell you he got his hair cut last week? He couldn’t get in to his regular guy, so he went to a new one, Mr. Manny, who buzzed his hair instead of doing the old guy ‘do, so now Brother looks kind of like Boris Karloff. With bulgy pug eyes. “That’s it, I give up. I formally renounce my fatherhood. I officially recognize the fact that even though you sprang from the fruit of my loins, I have no control over you whatsoever.”
“Welcome to the real world,” I said, patting him on his arm again. “So what is this news you have?”
“There’s much to be said for vasectomies,” he muttered as he plopped down in the chair behind his desk.
“You’re quickly slipping into the EW-zone. The news? For me? That you heard and you’re not telling me?”
He sighed heavily like it was such a big deal to tell me, but finally said, “Do you remember a few weeks ago when I told you about Dr. Morrison’s daughter who was going to find herself in Nepal for a month?”
I started jumping up and down even before he finished talking. “I got the job, I got the job!”
“Yes, you got the job. Dr. Morrison spoke to the head of the zoology department at the Bolte Museum with the upshot that you will be allowed to fill in for Melissa for the month of August.”
I did a very cool victory dance around the room. “I got the job, I got the job.”
Brother made a pretend frown. “You’re not having some sort of attack, are you? All that jerking of your arms and legs…oh, wait, you’re dancing.”
“Ha ha.” I stopped long enough to whap him on the arm. “So funny I almost laughed up my spleen. I have a job! Coolio!”
One half of his Unibrow rose. “Aren’t you even interested in what the job is?”
“Nope. I like animals, so it’ll be OK.” I started toward the door. “Gotta call Holly and tell her she’s not the only one who will be making oodles of money.” I paused at the door and looked back. “It does pay great huge gobs of money, right? ‘Cause it’s a museum job? I need money, Brother. That allowance you give me is positively miniscule.”
“You get a perfectly acceptable allowance—“
“Yeah, it’s fine if you don’t have a life or anything, but excuse me, I do! I want to go to movies, and buy CDs, and clothes, and makeup, and presents for people, and go to places like London. I’m seventeen, Brother! Money is not just an option when you’re seventeen, it’s a requirement!”
“You’ll find out the pay rate when you go in on Monday,” Brother said, his voice tired. I stood there for a minute looking at him. You know, really looking at him. There were black circles under his eyes, and with his hair cut all butch, he looked old. Really old. Older than he was, and we both know he’s ancient.
“Are you all right?” I asked, suddenly worried about him.
He looked surprised, rubbing his forehead before answering. “Are you inquiring into my general health or mental state?”
“Brother, we both know your mental state is Fruit Loop city,” I said, trying to squish down the sick feeling of worry that was boiling up in my stomach. “You don’t like have cancer or something and you’re not telling me because you don’t want to ruin my last month in England, the last and greatest month because not only is Dru coming to visit for a couple of days, but Fang will be coming home from New Zealand in a week, and I’ll finally be able to pin him down about the whole girl/guy thing? You’re not hiding the fact that you’re going to croak soon, are you?”
“No,” he said, rubbing his head again. “It’s not that.”
“Oh. Good.” I waited a few seconds for him to tell me what was the problem, but he didn’t. He just sat there looking old. Part of me wanted to just ignore whatever it was, but the other part of me, the really annoying part, had me adding, “I wouldn’t like it if you were sick.”
He stopped rubbing his head and did that old guy blink a couple of times. “Thank you Emily. I know how much that admission must have cost you.”
“I’d probably even cry.”
He cleared his throat in embarassment and rubbed the bridge of his nose. “Would you, indeed? I’m very touched. I didn’t know you cared.”
“Not in front of anyone, though,” I figured I’d better add. “Because you know how my nose goes all snot-locker when I cry, and my face turns red, and my mascara runs and stuff. But I’d cry where no one could see me.”
He sighed one more time. “No, I guess I couldn’t expect you to be snot-lockerish in front of people. Good night, Emily.”
“Nighty-night, don’t let Mom bite,” I said, snickering as I beetled off to my room feeling all warm and fuzzy. Sometimes you just have to let the ancient ones know they matter, even when they annoy you to death. Did I tell you that I’m not speaking to Mom? She’s trying to get me to start packing now, even though we won’t be going home to Seattle until the thirtieth of the month. Like I want to spend my last precious month packing stuff? Gah!
Anyhoo, I’ll let you know tomorrow how the new job goes. It’s bound to be fun working with animals in a museum, don’t you think? I thought I was going to have to end up working at the kids’ summer camp with Holly, but woohoo, I have a museum job!
How’s Felix the cat? What did you guys do this weekend? And are you getting excited about coming to England? It’s a real pain in the b*tch that your mom could only afford one week in Europe, but oh well, at least we’ll be together for four days! I can’t wait for you to meet my friends here. I can’t wait for you to drool over Fang.
I sure miss him. It’s been like forever since he went off to work on his cousin’s farm.
Tell all about what you’re packing!
Hugs and smooches,
Subject: re: Hippo birdies 2 ewe!
Date: 1 August 10:40pm
> Thank you for the birthday card and wishes. I spent the day helping my cousin repairing
> a fence that had been destroyed by cattle from the neighboring farm, but I appreciated the card
> and the CD you made for me. I’ll be home on the eighth, so stop worrying.
You had to work on your birthday? Sheesh! Oh well, I suppose that’s how they do things there. I’m so happy you’ll be home soon! I can’t wait to hear all about your summer in NZ…no, wait, you said it was winter there, huh? Whatever, I can’t wait to hear about it.
I ran into Aidan the other day. He’s just as icky as ever, although he didn’t go all potty mouth on me like he has in the past. And he asked where you were, which I thought was nice, and he said he is going to Oxford in the fall, so I guess everything worked out with him transferring schools. He didn’t ask about Devon, though. Guess he’s still mad about Devon beating him up after we got back from Paris. I know you and Dev had kind of given Aidan up, so hopefully you won’t be too hurt or anything that he’s still a poophead.
There’s loads more I have to tell you. It’s been really strange with you gone. I wish you had come back in July, like you were going to, but I’m not going to yell at you about that. Aren’t you impressed? I’ve been doing some thinking, Fang, and…um…never mind. I’ll tell you when you get home.
I’m really, really glad you’re coming back.
Subject: Want some cheese with that whine?
Date: 1 August 10:53pm
> so I won’t be back to England for a couple more weeks. I’ve got the villa to myself, which is
> good, but it would be more fun with you here. Any way you can come out for a few days? My
> uncle won’t be back from Rome for a few weeks, so it’s cool if you can come. You can even
> bring Holly, if her parents will let her go to Greece.
Man, I’d love to come to Greece, but I just can’t. I’ve got a job starting tomorrow—score! A real job, too, one in a museum and everything! So I can’t come, but thank you for asking. I miss you like mad! You may think it’s no fun not knowing anyone in Greece, but I know you, Dev—you’re a babe magnet. I bet you have girls crawling all over you.
I, on the other hand, am here by my sad and lonesome self. Fang is gone, you are gone, Holly spends most of her weekends on the phone with Ruaraidh, even Bess has been busy what with her witch training and stuff. My mom is obsessed with packing, and Brother is downright weird.
Anyway, I can’t wait for you to come home. You’ll be back before I have to go, right? You’re my best guy friend, Dev, even if you’re not my boyfriend anymore. Any guy who lets me barf on him (twice!) and still wants to hang with me is pretty fabu. I just couldn’t leave England without seeing you again.