Chapter 1

CEDRIC STOOD OVER HIS HOT STOVE. The flames licked around his cast iron pan. The smell of sizzling bacon made his five dogs salivate. They paced around the large kitchen.
“You’ve eaten.”
“Yes but master, it smells so good,” one of his dogs replied.
Cedric just stood there gazing at the food. A bright yellow bowl sat next to the stove filled with large eggs. He grabbed one in his hand, cracked it and the contents fell into a neat sunny side up formation. His flannel robe was open at the waist and his night clothes hung loosely on his trim body. 
Cedric sighed and turned his thoughts to the disturbing dreams he had last night. Children dying. The Queen in hiding very nearly dead. The haunting images made sleep over the last few nights difficult. He felt an arm reach around him and he jumped. 
“Aw Ceddy. Did I frighten you?”
“Really not used to having a woman in my home.” He tried to catch his breath. “A little warning next time..”
“Okay. How’s this?” She slowly lowered her hand along his torso and under the elastic band of his pajamas. He put his hand on her wrist.
“Susan, I’m trying to cook.”
“That’s a lot of food, come to think of it. I don’t like to fly on such a full stomach.”
“Believe me little miss hands all over my body, you’ll need your strength,” he growled.
“You are so naughty Cedric.” 
“The floor?”
“Your butcher block table with me on top.”
He grabbed her and kissed her while running his hands along her shapely form.
“You are so beautiful.”


Across town Jenna sat in a chair with her knees tucked up under her chin. Her nightgown served as a little tent from her neck down to her toes. She rested her head on her knees. 
I love how the flannel feels against my face. Couldn't I just stay like this forever?
She could not shake the powerful images of the nightmares that seemed to plague her over the last year. Yes staying indoors and resting her head on her knees seemed like a good idea, though hardly comforting. Her phone rang. She snapped her head up but she didn’t want answer it. It went to her answering machine.
“Hey Jenna, it’s Bobby and I know you’ve been a little out of sorts lately what with Daniel dying a year ago today and all. Still, I thought it’d be nice to get together, go see a flick, take your mind offa things. Anyway, I’m at the Buena Vista today so stop in. I’ll make an Irish Coffee and we’ll toast Daniel. Okay, you’re not picking up. Call me. Better still, stop in. ‘Bye.” 
She could hear the line go dead before the machine clicked off. Jenna sighed, touched the gold and diamond locket that rested on her neck and began to cry. Her phone rang again. She began to scorn its existence as if it were an enemy.
“Jenna? Shelly. Listen, Donny wants his cappo extra hot…oh pick up the fucking phone for Pete’s sake.”
Jenna stretched her legs out from under the weight of the now cumbersome material but lost her balance. She fell out of the chair to the floor. 
"Only me god-damnit."
She stood and grabbed the phone. 
“Donny dick-head? Really? You know the get paid clock doesn’t start ‘til I show up at the gallery,” Jenna huffed. 
“Relax. Got ‘ya covered.”
"What? Really? You mean all this time...."
"Hey, what're best friends for. But get down here. He's being a jerk."
"You mean more so than usual?" They had a laugh. "Okay, coming."
Jenna hung up the phone and started to walk.
"OW, my knee. Damnit." She rubbed it as she limped across the room too her bathroom to get ready for the day.


"Oh God my back." Cedric sat up on the kitchen floor and leaned against the kitchen sink cabinet. He rubbed his back and looked over at Susan.
"You okay?"
"I told you to let me on top. Better balance."
"Your head took a pretty good knock. I have something for that."
"Yes, the potions master always has something." 
She sat up and stared at him. He reached over to touch her cheek. She took in a sharp breath and pulled her head back. His eyes opened wide.
"Who hit you?" He demanded.
"No one I just..."
"Are you still seeing that warlock Warren?"
"Now Ced before you get a head of steam there," she tried to explain but her words fell on deaf ears. Cedric yelled and hit the kitchen floor with his fist and all of his might leaving a dent.
"Wood floors. Boxing bags. Walls even." He grabbed her arms and pulled her into him.
"But this beautiful face, gorgeous cheeks, sweet nose and lovely eyes, that's only meant for a lover's caress and nothing more." He stroked her face and they kissed.
"What would I do without you?"
"He is a deceiver, an oath breaker, the very..."
"Yes I know what the definition of a warlock is. He's also a friend of my parents."
"Well that doesn't mean you have to date him," Cedric snapped.
"You've obviously never met my parents."
"Yes, I have. I didn't like them centuries ago and I like them less now."
"Don't be terse. Come on Ceddy, what were we doing?"
"Well I was making breakfast but my girlfriend attacked me."
"This time, I'm on top," she growled.
"Your wish is my command."
Their passionate cries made the dogs howl.
"Do you have more eggs?"
"Is this the same woman who said, and I quote, 'I don't like to fly on a full stomach?'"
"Yeah, bite me and gimmie some more of your very tasty eggs."
Cedric sighed, stood and went to the stove. In a short time, more eggs appeared on her plate.
"Ced, why don't you just do what other witches do and point? You know making things just magically appear?"
"This is Earth and I like to cook. Besides I love you and what better way to express my love than to cook for you?" Cedric took a gulp of coffee.
"So, when do you want to get married?" A question she soon regretted.
Cedric's gulp was now spray all over her. He coughed while handing her a napkin. He took another gulp of coffee just to tame the incessant tickle in his throat.
"My new robe," she complained.
He was still coughing. "Hang on," he gurgled. He turned away and had one last large cough. That seemed to do it.
"Don't ever do that again," he griped. Susan giggled.
"You are an incurable romantic, Ceddy."
He walked over to her. "Stand up."
She stood. He pulled a cloth out of his robe pocket and dabbed it across the coffee stains which, upon contact, disappeared. 
"I think I got them all. Sorry about that but you did catch me by surprise, to say the least."
"Aw come on Ced. You're not in love with me, not really."
"Yes, I am Susan."
"What were your dreams last night?"
"I uh..."
"The war? Your wife? Your son?"
"Stop it."
"The Queen's children, calling after you. That's what your dreams..."
"I said stop it."
"Have you seen her? Your wife, your son?"
"No," he said quietly.
Susan sat back down. "I haven't seen them either."
"Look, Susan..."
"I love you too, Ceddy. But it's the Queen you need to find and ultimately marry."
"Well, actually I..."
Susan covered her ears and began to sing loudly, "La, la,la,la..."
"What the hell are you doing?"
"Isn't that what mortals do when they don't to hear something? Look, Cedric I can't know where she is. If you tell me I have to tell the witches Council and they will snatch her back without context. She won't know anything."
"So what is the latest that the Council is working on?"
"Whether witches should marry mortals."
"I don't see what business it is of theirs?" He griped.
"And there it is. This is why we don't talk shop when I come to see you."
"Master?" Cedric's dog Sage came into the kitchen.
"Every household should have a magical pet," Susan said.
"Hello Mistress. Where's Missy?"
Susan looked around. "Missy," she called out. Susan's dog walked into the kitchen followed by Cedric's other dogs.
"Missy," she was stern. "You shouldn't have wandered off."
She patted the nose of her white Standard Poodle. 
Missy turned her head towards Cedric.
"Master? Your older dog Gloria is not doing very well. I was just visiting with her."
"Yes." Cedric began to wonder what more sad news there was.
Susan turned to the dogs. "Master and I have to talk."
Sage and Missy barked and all the dogs left the kitchen.
"So, Susan, more sex? You know before you leave."
"Oh God Cedric. I don't know what I'd do without you. Could I have some more bacon instead?"
"Thrown over for a slab of meat."
"Naughty thing I'll have your slab of meat later."
"Now who's the naughty thing? Hey, does Missy want some bacon too?"
"No, and I probably shouldn't either, come to think of it. I do have to get to the Council."
She stood up and as she did so Cedric took her in his arms and kissed her.
"You remind me very much of Caroline, you know."
"What a sweet compliment. Thank you. She was my best friend. Do you miss her?"
"There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think of her, miss her and our son."
"War is about loss, Ceddy. You more than anyone knows about that."
"I wish you'd let me escort you back to the realm."
"Such a romantic."
"It's more than that, Sus. I have a bad feel..."
"It was just a dream, my love. You have to go to work and I have to get back."
"I still say that I should..."
"I'm fine Ceddy. And I have Missy. Kiss me good bye."
He held her tightly and they kissed. "I love you," he whispered.
"I love you too."

The quiet and solitude didn't seem to set right with Cedric. He read the paper but nothing stuck. As he reached across the table for some more coffee, Sage ran in.
"Master, Mistress is in trouble."
Cedric jumped to his feet and was dressed as he did so. 


by Alison J. Marshall