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Cass and Keith: NorthWatch, #4

Cass and Keith: NorthWatch, #4

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Cass and Keith: NorthWatch, #4

Length:
422 pages
5 hours
Released:
Jun 20, 2022
ISBN:
9781622534593
Format:
Book

Description

Nearly 15-year-old Cass senses that more violence will come, and she wants no part of it. She abandons her presidential aspirations in favor of becoming the next Stephen King—higher bar but nobler pursuit.

Near the end of Cassie's last visit to Washington, on the night of President Glen and Nips's first state dinner, an assassin killed the Ukrainian Ambassador and Vice President Blaner. At the same time, OmegaTroopers attacked the Academy for Excellent Youth. Now, first daughter Cass and boyfriend Keith hurry the kids back to WatTechPrep. Cass's relationship with Keith continues to mature, but nightmares about funerals haunt her. She senses that worse may yet happen—this is the Watson family, after all.

EVOLVED PUBLISHING PRESENTS the fourth book in the funny, fast-moving, action-packed "NorthWatch" series of young adult coming-of-age mystery/thrillers. [DRM-Free]

Books by Mr. Cagey Magee:

  • NorthWatch – Book 1: "Cass and Wat"
  • NorthWatch – Book 2: "Cass and Logan"
  • NorthWatch – Book 3: "Cass and Nat"
  • NorthWatch – Book 4: "Cass and Keith"

More Great Young Adult Fiction from Evolved Publishing:

  • The "Chosen" Series by Jeff Altabef and Erynn Altabef
  • The "Darla Decker Diaries" Series by Jessica McHugh
  • The "Dirt and Stars" Series by Kevin Killiany
  • The "Noah Zarc" Series by D. Robert Pease

 

Released:
Jun 20, 2022
ISBN:
9781622534593
Format:
Book

About the author

Author, editor, teacher, virtuoso, Mr. Cagey Magee, graduated from modestly bookish, obnoxious kid to obsessive young-adult reader at around the age of eleven. He lived not far from an excellent library filled with novels that led him to faraway universes and fascinating people. He devoured them—the novels, not the people—and soon became obsessed with writing his own horror, young adult, mystery-thriller, and coming-of-age stories. Cagey’s first novel came in at the size of two long books. He quickly learned the error of his ways when he needed to print the thing out and carry it. His current novels are more compact but still a little offbeat. He inevitably falls in love with his characters and really hates to kill them. For Cage, the near future holds infinite marvels. No one is all good or all bad. He loves them for who they are and where they go next, and hopes his readers will hang in there for the bumpy ride.


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Cass and Keith - Cagey Magee

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~~~

CASS AND KEITH

NorthWatch – Book 4

Copyright © 2022 Mr. Cagey Magee

~~~

ISBN (EPUB Version): 162253459X

ISBN-13 (EPUB Version): 978-1-62253-459-3

~~~

Editor: Lane Diamond

Cover Artist: D. Robert Pease

Interior Designer: Lane Diamond

~~~

AUTHOR’S NOTE:

To my devoted readers and to those not:

Some characters in this book use language that might offend a few parents or teachers. If you have not reached the age of thirteen, you may wish to ask your parents for permission to read this series. If you have reached eighteen, please ask a tween for a recommendation.

Sincerely,

Mr. Cagey Magee

~~~

PUBLISHER’S NOTE:

At the end of this novel of approximately 88,616 words, you will find a Special Sneak Preview of THE TRACE by Adelaide Thorne, the award-winning first novel in the Whitewashed series of young adult sci-fi adventures. We provide this as a FREE extra service, and you should in no way consider it a part of the price you paid for this book. We hope you will both appreciate and enjoy the opportunity. Thank you.

~~~

eBook License Notes:

You may not use, reproduce, or transmit, in any manner, any part of this book without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations used in critical articles and reviews, or in accordance with federal Fair Use laws. All rights are reserved.

This eBook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only; it may not be resold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, please return to your eBook retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

~~~

Disclaimer:

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination, or the author has used them fictitiously.

Books by Mr. Cagey Magee

NorthWatch

Book 1: Cass and Wat

Book 2: Cass and Logan

Book 3: Cass and Nat

Book 4: Cass and Keith

~~~

Cagey Magee at Evolved Publishing

What Others Are Saying about CASS AND WAT (Book 1)

This is an engaging story filled with humor, a novel with strong themes of family, coming-of-age, and intrigue. The story is beautifully told, with elements of the setting well captured.... Character is one of the author’s strengths and I loved how Cassie, as well as other characters including Senator Glen Wat, are developed. The relationships and intrigue come out brilliantly. The young protagonist is a fascinating character with a unique perspective on life, one that helps to deepen the use of humor in the story. The reader will want to unravel the mystery, to identify the mind behind Cass’s predicament, and to find out if she can live up to her goal. This novel is hilarious, highly engaging, and entertaining. ~ Readers’ Favorite Book Reviews, Christian Sia (5 STARS)

~~~

"Cagey Magee brings new meaning to coming-of-age thrillers in Cass and Wat... brings his characters alive with vivid personalities and redeemable qualities. The plot appears simple; kidnap kids so the father will drop out of running for the presidential seat. There is so much more as Glen and Nat’s technology is used against them. The story is told from several points of view when characters make a move in this mysterious game of chess. Cagey Magee applies all the elements of a good thriller; an exhilarating plot, intelligent characters, and several mysteries in one book that slowly unfolds. I found the characters consistent throughout the novel, which can be difficult when you have many. The language and mature events would deem this a novel for older teenagers, but overall, I was spellbound. I was impressed with the ending and look forward to more novels from this author." ~ Readers’ Favorite Book Reviews, Peggy Jo Wipf (5 STARS)

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"...this is a genuine page-turner. It’s tightly written and witty, with exceptional pacing and characters that come to life. I loved it and look forward to jumping into the second book in the series, Cass and Logan." ~ Readers’ Favorite Book Reviews, Jamie Michele (4 STARS)

BONUS CONTENT

We’re pleased to offer you a Special Sneak Preview at the end of this book, in which you’ll enjoy the first three chapters of THE TRACE by Adelaide Thorne, the award-winning first novel in the Whitewashed series of young adult sci-fi adventures.

~~~

~~~

OR GRAB THE FULL EBOOK TODAY!

FIND LINKS TO YOUR FAVORITE RETAILER HERE:

The WHITEWASHED Series at Evolved Publishing

Table of Contents

Copyright

Books by Mr. Cagey Magee

What Others Are Saying

BONUS CONTENT

Dedication

CASS AND KEITH

PROLOGUE

PART ONE

Chapter 1 – Home

Chapter 2 – Cass and Trish

Chapter 3 – Advanced Device Science

Chapter 4 – History of Entertainment

PART TWO

Chapter 5 – Lunch with the Folks

Chapter 6 – New Kids, New Digs

Chapter 7 – Meg and Everybody

Chapter 8 – Bipa, Bipi, Buppie

PART THREE

Chapter 9 – Let’s Play Doctor

Chapter 10 – School Days

Chapter 11 – The Last Boat

Chapter 12 – Past and Present

PART FOUR

Chapter 13 – Bang

Chapter 14 – The Package

Chapter 15 – Knocked Down

Chapter 16 – Dummy in a Bee Hat

PART FIVE

Chapter 17 – The Battle of the Buses

Chapter 18 – Comfy

Chapter 19 – Sickies

Chapter 20 – Big

PART SIX

Chapter 21 – Beacon

Chapter 22 – Life of Keith

Chapter 23 – Bayview

Chapter 24 – Young Love Almost

PART SEVEN

Chapter 25 – Downeast

Chapter 26– Coming Out

Chapter 27 – Grand Tour

Chapter 28 – ThreatInocs and UnderBlocs

PART EIGHT

Chapter 29 – The Flies and the Ivy

Chapter 30 – The Picnic

Chapter 31 – Clambake Eve

Chapter 32 – The Watson Clambake

PART NINE

Chapter 33 – Pa and Grandpa

Chapter 34 – Glen’s Circle

Chapter 35 – Castle Love

Chapter 36 – The Iron Key

PART TEN

Chapter 37 – A Family Affair

Chapter 38 – Pa

Chapter 39 – Memories

EPILOGUE

About the Author

More from Cagey Magee

More from Evolved Publishing

Special Sneak Preview: THE TRACE by Adelaide Thorne

Dedication

Dedicated to Mr. Stephen King.

PROLOGUE

—2037—

No middle ground exists.

Mariyinsky Palace. Kyiv, Ukraine. May 15. 10:00 PM. Dr. Samuel Bok.

"Yes, Dr. Bok, that’s exactly what I mean, and I assure you that we shall use your children if you refuse. We’ll bring them here whether they agree or not, and you can be one big happy family again while you all work for me."

Attempting that would be dangerous, Madam President. The Watsons are protecting them and know no boundaries or limits. And that is precisely the way I want it.

"I am quite familiar with the Watsons, Dr. Bok. I own a few, and Logan and I are old and intimate friends, but you are the one under house arrest. You broke our previous agreement but shall now reconstitute The KidTrove Project or never leave this house alive. That includes your wife and children. All I need to do is call Abe Bush."

"Where is my wife, Bipi?"

"Madam President, if you please. Pru and Julija are safe. They don’t like each other much but are more loyal to me than you are, thank God, though not nearly as knowledgeable. You are the expert in and teacher of International Studies, Espionage History, Cryptography, Device Science, and Information Propagation, which you have dubbed InfoProp. You also have considerable experience in the Intelligence and Security services. You and Mac Beverly established the machine our faithful children utilized. Now you have all turned against me, and I shall not tolerate that!"

"And you co-opted and misused that machine. You exploited my children and their friends. You want now to reinstate that exploitation for your benefit with no regard for the damage it will do to every child involved and to the United States. I’m an educator, not a subversive. I taught at your V. N. Karazin Kharkiv National University until you forced me back to The Academy and the college in Van Wert, Ohio.

I didn’t want to waste your citizenship. She shrugged.

What you want is for me to construct a new misinformation machine, harness bright kids, including mine, to work against my own country, and to help keep you in office forever.

Glenny baby is against me too, just as his wife Skooter was, so he needs to go by one means or another, just as she did.

You failed.

Yes, but with Glen Watson, opportunities abound. He’s so cordial, almost as much so as his father.

You can’t keep me here forever. I won’t help you.

You will—you just don’t know it yet, and you’d be surprised how long I’ve kept my enemies here. As far as you’re concerned, Sammy, all I expect is for you to follow orders without question. You are either loyal to me or not worthy of life. Scant middle ground exists. It’s only because of your remarkable brain that I am allowing you a second chance.

You’re a bitch, Madam President.

Yes, and I have not forgotten 2014. And while we’re on the subject, your wife works for me and always has!

PART ONE

You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.

~ Steve Jobs

Chapter 1 – Home

—2037—

Lying isn’t just for Washington anymore.

WhisperChop. Near Liberty, NY. May 21. 10:50 PM. Cassie.

A white flash lit the sky outside of the Whisper Chop. Cass cringed. Pip? she whispered across the aisle to her little brother. Ten or not, he was the brains of the family and would be heading to college this fall.

Micrometeorite, Cass.

No, it’s not.

I didn’t say it was.

Whatever. Cass’s thighs sweated, and her butt ached. That should not happen to the only daughter of the United States president.

Despite her beautiful months in Washington, DC, she was spending far too much time in WhisperChops and away from WatTechPrep, and she owned an interest in the place. Whisper or not, the damned plane’s silent vibration had caused an outreach campaign for her butt.

I refuse to accept my excess assets.

Her family owned this fancy, semi-comfortable plane. In Washington, she’d flown in clunky-loud presidential choppers—they resembled teen boys without the farts.

Love ‘em but leash ‘em.

Washington had been fun, though—Camp David would remain Cass’s favorite. They lost Peter and Lem for a couple of hours when they took off exploring, and the same thing happened later in the Smithsonian with Pip, Peter, Lem, Macee, and Lep. Keith, Cass, and Trish had wanted to see specific junk in peace and told the gang of ten-year-olds they could go wherever, as long as they stayed together and didn’t touch anything. The Smithsonian kept guards and attendants all over the damned place. What trouble could the boys possibly make?

How five ten-year-olds, one in a wheelchair, could become invisible for that long baffled their WatTechGlobal private security guards, the Secret Service, and even Cass. It didn’t matter much, though. No damage was done, and Gang-10 returned by feeding time.

Shit, they’re cute. Clean up your language, Cass. You’re not in Washington anymore.

Today, Nat was piloting with Tandy co-ing next to him, sound asleep. Mike Watson was supervising and snoring in his cushy seat at the back of the plane—school principals could get away with that.

Trish and Cass were sitting together. In front of them, Peter and Lem had remained awake most of the way, looking forward to seeing their new school. They’d crash soon—the boys, not the plane. Keith, Macee, and Lep were sleeping and farting across the aisle, oblivious to the scents of other life forms.

A bright light flashed through the sky again. This time it left a long red tail, and the plane shook slightly.

Pip? Cass asked quietly.

Micrometeorite, Cass.

No.

I know. Pip turned in his seat, faced the window, and appeared to return to sleep, but then got up and went to the front of the plane to talk to Uncle Nat, Pip’s teacher and mentor. Only Nat’s brain approached Pip’s.

Boys! Only tween and teen girls, the TT-Club, understood and could manage them competently.

Hey, Trish, Cass asked, do you want me to introduce you lot as triplets or as twins with a smarter big sister? Lem and Peter are identical, but you look older, and you aren’t a boy.

"Your perception is astounding, Cass. I am a girl. And yes, please announce us as triplets. We promised. Besides, being annoying doesn’t disqualify Lem and Pete from being two-thirds of our triplet-hood. They look and act younger than me because they’re boys—no maturity, tiny frontal lobes, bathroom senses of humor, all that, which doesn’t include Pippykins, of course. And what was that flash?"

I feel the same way about Pip. He’s so out-of-the-box brainy that you start to think of him as an adult. I should point out, though, that he sometimes giggles hysterically over some dumb bathroom joke and exposes himself as being ten, not forty. Triplets it is, and I don’t know what the flash was.

"I know." Peter looked back at Cass and nodded wisely before whispering to Lem.

Cass discerned the word ‘shields’ in Pete’s whisper. The WhisperChop contained automatic emergency shields. Is someone attacking us?

Hey, Cass, Trish said, "when Meg intruded into The Academy covert server, Lem and I thought she might be a worm. Should I take a ‘gotcha’ or a ‘sorry-about-that’ attitude when I meet her in person? I’m good at both, but intelligent computer entities can be pissy."

"Yeah, Meg can be pissy from time to time and did know you since she recognizes humans by their genomes. Regardless, don’t tell Meg she’s a worm."

Okay, but why?

"Because she’ll laser-zap your belly button—she goes lower with boys. No matter what you do, she has or will recognize you. She might even tell you what she was up to at The International Academy for Excellent Youth—but that’s after she gets to know you. Don’t bring it up, but tell the truth if she does. By the way, I doubt that she asks questions unless she already knows the answers."

"Yeah, like lawyers—Lem wants to be one when he grows up. He’s dying to meet your big brother, Todd.

Gram calls him Toad, and I’m sure he’d be willing to spend some time with Lem.

"Good. Will The Academy reopen in Washington? It was our home away from home, a good one for a time. We had some terrific friends there. Never mind that we were spying on the country and trying to change public opinion to order."

Sure, it’ll reopen, soon too. It will be a Washington sister-school for WatTechPrep or, considering the times, a gender-neutral sibling-school, I suppose. Same clientele but without the international intrigue.

Did your dad know about our activities?

"No idea what he knew—he never says, never has. I’m sure he considers it naughty to use kids for espionage and misinformation distribution. As far as The Academy is concerned, there’s no telling what secrets flew out of there or might still be hiding and waiting to leave by a back door. Of course, there’s also no telling what secrets WatTechPrep conceals."

"I helped start The Academy part of The KidTrove Project, although the computer hooks and pullies, and I think the direction, came from somewhere else. Pretty naive, huh?"

The secret stuff’s on a disintegrating cloud somewhere, likely. At least that’s what Nat and Gramps say, Cass whispered. "They haven’t found it yet. Hey, maybe they’ll keep the spook stuff and call the new school The International Academy for Excellent Teen & Tween Spies."

Conspiratorial giggles overtook Trish and turned into a fantastic smile. Cass hadn’t seen her acting-sister smile more than a few times. She knew that it looked odd for a fourteen-year-old to be friends with a little kid, but she didn’t care. Brains mattered, and, like most of the other kids on the plane, Trish’s brain danced to a tune way older than her age.

Cass had always wanted a sister, more-so after they adopted Macee and Lep. If the situation proved temporary until Trish, Lem, and Peter’s folks turned up, she could live with that, she guessed. She might even need to be nice... well, at least civil to Biggie Bok since older siblings possessed status no matter what they weren’t, and Trish and her brothers definitely loved him. If their parents never turned up, he would be their last living relative.

It must be nice, Cass. Your father is president; your school, tops; your family, a kind and legal mafia; and your bank accounts are full.

"I think it’s all legal, Trish. We have our peaks and valleys like any other family, but there’s lots of loving and plenty of other good stuff. The inside info is great, too. Last night, Gramps told me that we’ve begun hiring for the new Academy and that it will reopen in the fall. Advertising will start once they decide on a new name. Our teachers at the White House were auditioning for jobs at the new school and at WTP. Gramps hired Keith, Pip, and me to text him reviews. I imagine that Nips has a hand in the final picks, though."

"I could have written some reviews to help out."

"I know, Trish. At that point, I don’t think the powers-that-be wanted to broadcast your presence to anybody. It got out anyway. Triplets in the Whitehouse stick out. I guess both Logan and Mike are good friends with your parents and are determined to keep you safe. Prepare for sheltering to suffocation. Just remember that Watsons always know more than they admit." Including me.

"Friends and relatives, Trish corrected. Our grandmother is your great-aunt, and why do we really need protecting, much less sheltering? Lem, Pete, and I just want to go to school and be kids for a change. Who would want to kill us now?"

Another flash answered her.

Micrometeorite, Pip repeated without really waking.

No, it’s not, Cass whispered back. Someone who knows what you know, Trish, but doesn’t want you to repeat it. More than one might want to end you. The world is all about secrets. Pa says that lying isn’t just for Washington anymore.

"Does he lie?"

Of course he does. He’s the president.

When WatTechPrep appeared in the distance, Lem and Pete looked back at Cass for confirmation. Her nod moved them together into the window seat, their eyes spread wide. The campus stuck out of the dark, a bright and shining little city on a hill, now a much more heavily protected hill than before, according to Gramps.

The Bok kids would go astonished when they saw the WTP’s Fourth-of-July. That was also when a massive influx of kids, seven to eighteen, would return from vacation for the Scholar Term. They were the best of the best in the let’s-get-ahead group—no one needed more than two vacation weeks to recharge their engines.

Chop-chop! Mike suddenly appeared from nowhere with his mouth open. Chop-chop-chop! Ladies, gentlemen, and others, open your bright little eyes and smart little brains, everyone. Actually, he emerged from the back of the bus, like so many principal types. Uppy, uppy, students and sharpshooters. There’ll still be time for a nap in your own little beds before the day starts, so jump into the stretch directly. Don’t dawdle.

Uncle Mike wore so many hats that Cass sometimes wondered if Nat, Pip, and Meg might have created him from scratch. Where are our new triplets going to nap, Uncle Mike? The whole Bok family will need our special attention; this place is brand new to them.

The Bok Triplets want to stay together for now, Mike said. The new suite across the hall from the boys is for them but may not be quite finished yet. We’ll improvise. There’s also an empty new suite at the end of Watson Wing if any more cousins turn up. That one’s finished but not furnished.

Why the frig did Mike do that? Cass’s bed for guests she rarely entertained and lovers she didn’t have quite yet would serve nicely.

Another flash erupted, brighter than the others and with a distant explosion. The plane moved sideways, slightly to the left—

Trish, Lem, and Peter.... Mike hesitated, then looked quizzical. "Just to make sure: you do still want to stay together? We’ve never admitted mixed-gender triplets before, which is odd, actually. Thanks to low natural birth rates and high infertility rates, there are so many deliberate multiple births and designer kids these days. You know: ‘I want a lovely little girl with fuchsia hair and six toes on each foot.’"

Yes sir. Pete’s voice possessed a lovely high tone; Cass could picture him singing Amahl and the Night Visitors. "We definitely want to stay together. We’re identical triplets except that Lem and I have penises, and Trishy keeps a vagina as her pet."

I agree completely, Peter. Mike smiled. He seemed to genuinely appreciate Peter’s often bizarre candor.

Cass wondered how long that would last.

Across the aisle, Keith opened one eye. Hey, Uncle Principal Mike, I’m not a lady, a gentleman, or an ‘other.’ Do I gotta wake up too?

You do because you’re all of those. Now and then, Mike let his doctorates and penchant for philosophy speak for him.

Sugar on Satan. Okay. Yes sir. Right away. Yes sir. Keith didn’t move. Yes sir, and headed back to sleep.

Cassie decided she’d had enough. She stood, totally awake but exceptionally in need of sleep, and loudly proclaimed, Move! Everyone! Wake up and move! Eyes opened and dead bodies reanimated, except the triplets, who were already awake with the excitement of a new place. Live, zombies. Live, she added.

"I’m a real person, not a zombie," Peter complained.

I’m a zombie, Pip added, but I’m sort of awake too.

Us too, Lep put in, as usual, speaking for both Macee and himself. We’re something too.

Nat’s back shook. Obviously, he could barely contain his laughter at the kids’ antics while the plane landed itself on the WatTechPrep pad far behind the school. According to PresPa, Nat laughed all the time as a child until his parents and four siblings died.

Through it all, copilot Tandy didn’t crack an eye. He was dead to the world, or maybe just dead—he looked it anyway, though the snoring gave him away.

Finally, Cass snarled, Yuk, walked forward, opened the hatch, and descended the ramp to the ground with Peter close behind her. When they reached the WatStretch, she said, Pete, this is Jess. She’s a bodyguard and driver and especially a friend. Jess, meet Peter Bok.

Hi, Pete. Any relation to Biggie?

He moved next to Cass and became an assistant greeter. No, Ms. Jess, getting high is frowned on when you’re ten. Eleven, not so much. And yes, Biggie is my big brother. Hello, Ms. Jess, and good morning. I plan to reform Biggie. He glanced up at new feet coming down the ramp. And here we have Trish and Lem, my siblings.

They both shook Jess’s hand, then hopped into the stretch.

Triplets, Cass? Jess asked.

Yep. Triplets.

And here are my other semi-conscious siblingesque little buddies, Pete announced, Macee, Lep, Pip, and, of course, Keith.

The boys fist-bumped Jess as they dove into the stretch and likely fell back to sleep.

Principal Mike then emerged and hurried down the short ramp, offered a quick, Hi, Jess, and followed the other kids into the stretch.

Cass and Peter joined him, Jess slammed the doors, and off they went very slowly—the school WatStretch had obviously grown armor. Cass recognized it from Washington. She wondered if they would experience another flash before reaching WatTechPrep, or even the old Girl’s School.

Mike, principal and judge, turned his announcement machine on to address the semi-conscious bodies in the stretch. Beware and be alert, guys. While you were in Washington, we thoroughly updated the automated and manual security systems. If you see, hear, or smell anything strange, please let me know immediately.

I smell Keith. Peter smug-smiled. He’s exceedingly organoleptic.

We all smell Keith, Mike agreed, and in a few years, we’ll smell you too, I suspect. Puberty is pube-scent. Seriously, if anyone sees something suspicious, don’t linger to ponder. We don’t want System to zap anyone who’s not suspicious or an enemy. Even with Meg now in the supervisory mix, complexity glitches still linger and self-propagate.

Thanks a bunch, Uncle Mike. Now Peter looked worried. "I really don’t want to get zapped, glitched, or lingered. What will Ms. System think of my siblings and me? We definitely are new." He somehow managed to look concerned and perky simultaneously.

If that happens, Peter, Mike said, Nat will twitch his mouth and appear instantly. Just call him Samantha and give him a nice tip. He has already taken care of Ms. System and Mother Meg, where new kids are concerned, anyway.

Yes sir! Pete said, then whispered to Cass, What’s he talking about, and who is Samantha?

We actually began making security improvements after the parking lot blew up, Mike explained. "If something bothers you, guys, feel free to knock on my door or to use your SuperPhones to call Nat or me—we live together now. Logan and Bodil also don’t mind a call if they’re here. Logan, Nat, and I are joint security heads. It’s taken three of us to do Mac Beverly’s security role. You will also have Tandy and Jess to help out. Bev and Mildred are here too, part-time. Macee, you should benefit from that."

Macee half-opened his eyes and made a sound with his mouth for a change.

You’re still the principal, aren’t you, Mike? Trish asked.

Yes, I am, and Nips is still co-principal. She plans to visit more regularly now that she has settled into the White House a bit. She and I are remaining joint principals. And no, Pip, that does not mean principals of the joint.

"You really do do a bunch of joints, though, don’t you, Mr. Father Mike? Pete smiled sweetly. You’re a huge do-doer joint-uncle."

"Great-uncle, but true. I’m also a joint twin with Logan, a joint principal with First Lady Nips, and a joint owner of WatsonEnterprises, WatTechGlobal, WatTechPrep, and The Academy. I’m also twin-Logan’s partner in many other enterprises. The whole mess constitutes an extended family more than a conglomerate, though."

I’m sure that you have a penis too, Mr. Mike, brother-twin of Logan, so are you going to get married? Peter’s voice sounded sincere and straightforward, as if he were asking his grandmother to pass the sugar.

Mike smiled kindly. Well, Pete, with one exception, I’ll get married when I lose my mind.

Pete’s perk pooped. "That’s not nice. He does have a penis." Mainly to himself.

Apparently, penis is the word of the day. Cass, too, had wondered about Mike’s sex life but had seen no evidence that he possessed one.

"I know, kids. With all my joint-ships, I seem to be less than half a person in any of my roles. Incidentally, none of the security improvements are more invasive than before—they couldn’t possibly be."

In other words— Cass needed to get a word in to uphold her leader status. —In other words, Ms. System can still watch me pee, but now she analyzes it?

Pretty much, Cass. Mike didn’t look all that happy about it. School toilets do reveal many secrets. He yawned and relaxed back into the seat.

After the long, slow ride from the landing pad to the school, the stretch finally pulled up to the entrance of the Watson Wing. Cassie pulled herself out into the cool early-morning air, then looked back inside at her sleeping-beautifuls.

Pete slipped out of the stretch too, stood by Cass, and didn’t say a word, probably a first.

The limo’s engine died, and Jess joined Cass and Pete in looking at the graceless dead, now including Mike and Trish.

Should we just leave them? Jess asked.

Let’s. Cass smiled. I don’t think they’ll get up to mischief.

I agree. Pete’s face took on a strange dab of deviltry. They’ll behave for once.

Chapter 2 – Cass and Trish

—2037—

Watsongarch.

—1—

Liberty, NY. WatTechPrep. May 22. 9:30 AM. Cass.

When Cass awoke in her suite, the guest bed sat empty, and her bed sat full—full of Trish, which was a surprise since she was asleep in the stretch the last time Cass saw her.

As usual, a message awaited her on the phone. No classes this morning. Nat after lunch. Please orient and introduce the triplets. This is Mike, I think.

Thank God. After her

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