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by A.R. Kirby
Dinner, discussion, and a dash
he rest of Friday afternoon passed quickly for both Tal and Liv. Liv spent a couple of hours surfing more news sites, then called it a day around four and headed home. Tal continued gathering information for his meeting with Paul Griffin on Monday, chuckling throughout the afternoon as he recalled the look on dean’s face as he lay sprawled on the grass of the quad. It was about five-fifteen when Tal walked into the house, greeted by the aroma of onions and garlic cooking on the stove. Leaving his briefcase in the living room as he came into the house, he walked into the kitchen to see Liv standing at the sink washing some mushrooms. “Mmmm, nice,” Tal said, walking up behind his wife and kissing her on the side of the neck. “Hello, love,” Liv said, putting down the fungi and turning to embrace her husband. She kissed him on the lips and smiled. “You are one lucky man,” she said, her arms around Tal’s neck. “Alice is spending the night at the Azbik’s, Monica is at work, and she’s going straight from there to a show at Thirteenth Cavern -- AND I’m cooking your favorite tonight.”
Committed by A.R. Kirby “What’s this all about?” “We’ve been through a lot since yesterday. I don’t know about you, but I think we need a night to try to wrap our heads around what’s happening to us. I thought it would be nice for us to have a quiet dinner on the deck, just the two of us, enjoy the evening together. Maybe we’ll just watch lightning bugs and relax.” “That’s a great idea,” Tal said, moving to the stove to stir the simmering onions and garlic. “I’ve got a funny feeling there won’t be many more opportunities like this anytime soon.” “All the more reason we should enjoy tonight,” Liv said, giving Tal a loving swat on the rear as she said it. “Now go get comfortable. I’ll have you a beer ready when you get back from the bedroom, and then you can help me set the table.” ---------Dinner was Tal’s favorite -- shrimp sautéed with onions and garlic, served with angel hair pasta and Liv’s scratch-made red sauce. They ate on the deck and watched the sun set. After clearing the dishes and straightening the kitchen, they made their way to the living room. Liv lit a few candles and then made herself comfortable on the sofa while Tal put Roxy Music’s Avalon in the CD player. Tal took a seat next to Liv and put an arm around her shoulders while Brian Ferry crooned his way through the title track. Liv snuggled a little closer to her husband. “I like this,” she said, looking up at Tal from inside the crook of his arm. “It’s romantic.” said. 2 “It’s his voice. The man is smooth with a capital S,” Tal
Episode 20 “In any case, I like it,” Liv said. “I liked it the very first time you played it for me.” “Really? When was that?” “Fairly early on when we were first dating, at your old house. Maybe we’d been seeing each other for three months or so, and it was a night a lot like this one, but you made dinner for me. After we ate, we sat on the sofa in your old house, drinking wine, and you told me you wanted me to hear something. And then you played Roxy Music for me.” “I remember. Do you remember what happened next?” Liv blushed slightly. “Well, if I recall correctly, the record -- along with the wine -- had the effect you probably intended.” She leaned up and kissed Tal gently on the lips. “It’s a good record,” she smiled. Tal eased further back into the overstuffed sofa and let out a heavy breath, then pulled Liv closer into him so her head rested on his chest. “Been one hell of a twenty-four hours, don’t you think?” “Good lord,” Liv sighed. “You sure got that right. I still can’t get my head around it. I almost don’t even want to think about it, but I can’t help it. How the hell are the two of us supposed to save the world?” “I guess we’ll just play it by ear. I imagine we’ll know what we’re supposed to do when it’s time for us to do it.” “You think?” “Hell, I don’t know.”
Committed by A.R. Kirby The chorus of “More Than This” swirled around Liv and Tal as they held on to each other in silence. After a few moments, Liv stirred and looked Tal in the face. “Are you tired?” “Surprisingly, no,” he said. “I ought to be completely worn out; I mean, last night was a big night, and any other time, today would have kicked my butt. But I feel great... I guess it’s these powers.” “I guess it would have to be,” Liv replied. “I’m surprised I’m not already passed out.” She laid her head back on Tal’s chest. “Tell me what it was like?” Tal gently stroked Liv’s hair. “What was what like, baby?” “Using your powers. I haven’t really done anything with mine. What was it like when you pulled the ground out from under Griffin?” Tal chuckled. “It just felt natural, somehow. It was like I was completely connected to the earth. All I did was think about moving it, and it moved.” do?” “Wow. That’s... that’s just wild. I wonder what all we can
“I guess we’ll find out in the morning,” Tal said. “Toby told me before dinner that we’d be working on our powers tomorrow; what do you think he’s got in store for us?” “I dunno. Maybe he’ll show you how to make a sinkhole appear under Paul.” 4
Episode 20 “I hadn’t really thought about that,” Tal laughed. “But I bet there’s all kinds of things we can do.” “How do you mean?” Liv asked. “So Gnorr gave us powers; you can control air and water, and I can control earth and fire. But he also said he gave us other powers -- speed, strength, and flight, right? I wonder how strong and quick we are?” Liv gasped as Tal snatched her quickly from the sofa and lifted her into his arms. “Not bad for an old guy, huh?” Tal smiled and kissed Liv on the nose. “Whaddya think?” “Hmmm. Is it that you’re so strong,” she said, rising slowly and gently a few inches into the air above Tal’s arms, “or is it that I’m just light as a feather?” “That is so cool,” Tal exclaimed, staring at his wife as she hovered in midair in front of his face. A sudden gleam flashed through his eyes, and Liv recognized the mischievous smile on his face. “What are you thinking about, Talmadge Hooper?” “Well... “ Tal pushed Liv gently with a single finger, then grabbed her wrist to keep her from floating through the dining room and into the kitchen. “I wonder if these powers of ours are good for things other than saving the world? Personally, I bet we can think of all kinds of uses for these gifts of ours.” He leaned in and kissed Liv deeply. She put her feet back on terra firma and winked slyly at her husband. “Race you to the bedroom?” she asked.
Committed by A.R. Kirby Liv was gone from the living room in the blink of an eye, with Tal following close behind, both of them moving at unbelievable speed toward the boudoir. Anyone watching would have thought that they simply vanished into thin air. The only evidence of their dash towards ecstasy was a stiff breeze that followed in their wake and slammed the door shut behind them as they fell, giggling in each other’s arms, onto the bed. ---------It was nearly eight the following morning, and Liv was sleeping peacefully -- snuggled deep in Tal’s arms as he spooned her -- when a familiar sensation on her thigh stirred her from her slumber. Slowly opening one eye, she looked toward the end of the bed to see Toby matting the comforter just above her knee. “Rise and shine, lovebirds,” the cat said, still moving his paws up and down like furry pistons. “We’ve got a big day ahead.” Liv sat up, pulling the sheets up to her chest as she did, her tousled hair falling around her face. Once she was settled, Toby resumed matting the comforter around her. “You know, even though I’m not really a cat, doing this just feels sooooo good,” he said, staring at his paws as they moved up and down repeatedly on the comforter. “I don’t get it. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop...” He arched his back, and Liv scratched it. Tal stirred and rolled onto his back. Putting his hands behind his head, he looked at Toby. “What’s the plan, cat?” Toby pawed for a moment more before sitting down on his haunches to give the couple a serious look.. “There’s a whole bunch you two are going to have to learn if you’re going to save the world,” the cat told them. “You’ve got 6
Episode 20 powers, but you don’t know how to use them. And that’s why I’m here.” Toby puffed up his chest a bit as he said it. “I’ll be teaching you a lot in a short time. If you two are going to have any kind of chance, you’re going to have to do exactly what I say. Understand?” Both husband and wife nodded. “Well then,” Tal said, sitting up and swinging his legs over the side of the bed, “let’s get cracking. We’ll get dressed, and then we can all head out in the back yard to get started.” “Good thinking, genius,” Toby snapped. “Do you think Mrs. Donnelly will be impressed when you heave a boulder into her rose garden? ‘Low-key’ is what we’re going for here.” “He’s right, you know,” Liv said quietly. “I think we need to keep this hush-hush. We don’t want to attract too much attention.” Tal scratched his head. “Okay, so maybe that wasn’t the best idea I’ve ever had. Either of you have any ideas?” Toby took a seat alongside Tal, his legs dangling off the bed. “The best-case scenario would be the Empyrean training grounds, where the Royal Guardians learn their trade,” the cat said. “Unfortunately, we’ve got no way to get to Empyrea. Even if we did, and even with your powers, you’d both probably be dead within three minutes of entering the grounds. The Royal Guardians tend to be on the vicious side. Not that it matters. So for today, let’s see what we can work with...” Toby put a paw to his chin and thought for several seconds. He straightened, then turned to look at Tal and Liv. “We’ll be working on flying, so we need some wide open space. Outside somewhere. That will give us air and earth to work with, too. Water would be good. I doubt we’ll be able to do much 7
Committed by A.R. Kirby with fire, though. It’s too bad you don’t live near an active volcano. That would be the best.” “There’s the big field next to the lake at Oak Mountain Park,” Tal suggested. “That won’t do,” Liv said. “It’s a gorgeous day outside. The place will be packed.” Closing her eyes, Liv searched her brain; she knew she had been somewhere recently that met most of Toby’s criteria. And then there it was: the old Louisville and Nashville railroad switchyard which her firm used for a photo shoot a couple of months earlier. “I’ve got it,” she said. “There’s an old rail yard just east of town. It’s been abandoned for years, and nobody ever goes there. It even has a quarry lake, and a couple of old broken-down locomotives. It will be perfect!” “Well, look at who had the bright idea,” Toby snarked, then hopped off the bed, headed for the door. “So be it. We leave in five minutes.” To be continued...
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