[SESSION SUMMARY REFERENCE: ACCESS MISSION DATABASE]
Celeste Summers writes in a leather-bound journal every day. Her penmanship is a delicate arrangement of swooping, elegant calligraphy pressed to each page using the rosewood fountain pen that was a gift from her uncle, and ink the color of spring.
The following is a selection of vignettes from various entries Summer has written — encompassing personal notes, thoughts, and poetry. While they largely appear in chronological order, those marked with the archive tag reference the out-of-session timeline and past events.
Morning tea is non-negotiable. My Mam insisted this was the way of things — how are you to face the day, mo stoirín, without a proper cup of tea to warm you? Daddy called the blend 'Irish Breakfast Tea' to annoy her; some of my earliest memories are of Mam glaring over the teapot at him, the corner of her mouth twitching with stifled laughter — because that, too, was part of the routine.
If one is in America and desperate, the blend is sold under the Irish Breakfast Tea label, however; the proportions are never what they should be. The ideal is a confluence of black teas, weighted heavily towards at least two varieties of Assam and mellowed only slightly by Ceylon. It’s then steeped and honeyed, and blended equally with milk heated just shy of scalding.
This morning I was presented with a reason to share my routine: Ingrid. Our first time falling asleep — and waking up — together. Bliss.
I made the tea. And she, true to her nature, wanted to know every detail about the process, the memory, the feelings. We drank it together over breakfast, and made plans for the future.
There was an initial wave of disappointment when I opened my eyes this morning to find her place in my bed was empty.
It was chased away just as quickly by the sound of the kettle whistling in the kitchen. She remembered every detail.
Ginny got me a gift — an artifact steeped in magic, to use every day. The kettle sings. Happy Christmas.
I’ve been asked a not insignificant number of times how it is that Ginny and I continue to be so happy together. The key, I find, is routine. There are things which she and I always make time for, and those expectations allow us to be entirely confident in our role in each other’s lives.
Today was a typical day Wednesday. I awoke to a song coming from the kitchen, to an exhausted fox against my hip and trilling protest at the hour, to the scent of assam tea and fresh fruit. After brushing out my hair and attending to Finn, who by this point is inevitably worming his way into my lap for attention, I look at my phone and address anything which can not wait the hour and a half or so it will take me to get into the office. When I make my way to breakfast, all work ceases — mornings are ours. It is a rule we adopted early, and one we sorely needed. Two women with complicated careers and demanding schedules can easily become overworked and, even worse, distant from each other.
I don’t enjoy preparing meals — Ginny does, and so I leave her to it. Every time I walk towards the kitchen it is with the hope of a glance of her before she notices me, a glimpse of perfection peering intently at a selection of fruit or pouring tea. When she is clued into my presence there’s always a smile, one that radiates outward and fills the room, and I remember the exact moment I fell in love with her for the first time. This morning, like every one before it, I fell in love with her again.
We compare our calendars — Wednesday is the day for changes and updates. Ginny wants to go back to France, and we’re planning a trip for the summer. We shower, we debate with Finn about his attire for the day, we kiss goodbye. Ginny is poetry given physical form, and this morning I sent a simple thought via text message — I want to be with you until my last page.
This morning I see Connor and Kit waiting for me in the parking garage. He is holding my second cup of tea for the day — good. They are standing together and not actively bickering — good. She has my schedule and to-do list in hand, and it appears to be written on paper rather than a glass screen — good. She is looking at his phone rather than preparing for the day — bad. He is distracted and not keeping an eye on their surroundings — worse.
Finn loves helping to train my new Foxes and Hounds. I set him to work before Connor and Kit see me, which is not a difficult task, as neither of them has any idea what is happening anywhere in this parking garage. With an enviable amount of finesse, Finn is able to sneak up behind them and announce his presence.
The result was quite the performance:
Connor screamed and threw my tea at Kit.
Kit yelped, caught the beverage, and then promptly dropped it and everything else she was holding before sitting down on the ground.
Connor was knocked over by Kit’s movements, rendering them both prone and sitting on a swath of tea-soaked concrete.
I gave my keys to the valet and approached, with Finn carefully onboarding himself into my shoulder bag, Kit rising to her feet, and Connor working very hard to hide his embarrassment.
There were, as there have been every time I’ve caught the pair of them off-guard, a number of apologies and assurances they would work on their issues. I am confident I wasn’t wrong about their potential — still, I will never greenlight their applications if they can’t conduct themselves as Foxes and Hounds should. Each pair must be inseparable — entirely trusting of one another and keenly aware both of their own responsibilities and how their actions affect their partner.
Clearly drastic measures must be taken. Vicki will have some ideas.
Oh. Yes. Between the Lucky 13 and the device Vicki has in mind we will have something to cultivate the protective instinct in both Connor and Kit. I wonder how quickly Research and Development will have things ready?
Leading Team Hotel is an exercise in delegation. Largely, everyone manages themselves and their time expertly — each has their own team, just as I have the twisting branches of the Fox and Hound and all of its inner workings. As such, neither Deirdre nor Vicki nor Jade need to be told what I will do for them, or how they should proceed. On the contrary, what they need is to know I will support their endeavors and make suggestions when they require intervention — and more often than not, that insurance is enough to keep things working properly.
This is something I’ve noticed with the newer Agents. Given a modicum of responsibility, infantile team leaders strive for control. Why? Loyalty and resources take you much, much farther.
Deirdre is being forced to reopen negotiations with a young, petulant vampire. She has requested only my ear as her friend and coworker, and is confident — if annoyed — at the delay of completing the sale of an abandoned, and altogether uninteresting, house. The circumstances are suspicious, and the vampire rude, but the situation is in expert hands. Vicki and I have discussed, and the Lucky 13 will be supporting Deirdre in resolving things this evening. More likely than not, Deirdre will request the backup herself.
Jade is frustrated with a situation involving samples from deceased werewolves in Germany — the custody is in question, when all reasonable standards suggest they should be secured in his own lab. He is, I imagine, also annoyed that his own credentials haven’t been enough to grease the wheels of bureaucracy and get him what he wants. Marigold is going to send me a number of reports, which I will forward to the correct Agents in Germany, and this will be a simple enough matter to solve. It is, of course, quite a shame about the Agent from Team Alpha — to lose a teammate is one thing; to discover werewolf bites can transmit the condition and lose a teammate at the same time is something else entirely. Likely Vicki will follow up with Jun and his forward-thinking pack regarding this new information.
Vicki received word from Linda Beth that a black sarcophagus has been stolen, and has passed on the description and what few details there are available on to me. A good relationship with individuals manning ports of entry should never be underestimated.
I’ve been asked to consult on some ancient writings discovered within a cave. Their context points to a vampire origin, however; a Cunning Linguist can often only give so much information in these situations before requesting an expert — and this is where I come in. Memorization is useful, but it will not take you as far as etymology and an appreciation for the art of language.
I am not playing with him!
What is it about Holden? I have waited years to be able to be pursued by him. My feelings were instant, as they so often are, but of the decidedly long-lasting variety. Initial timing was unfortunate, but I am nothing if not patient. I waited for Ginny to be comfortable — she was still adjusting to Joy’s presence in my life, and we hadn’t been married very long yet.
And so, like the respectful and considerate creature I am, I waited. I’ve resisted giving him a nickname, and the only expression of love I’ve shared has been via flowers — and if he’s understood my messages, I can not say. It has been long enough that I can be sure, though, that I do not want to play with Holden. My feelings are sincere, and they clearly are not going anywhere.
Last week I talked over my frustrations with Ginny, and she suggested I ask him on a date. This is something I won’t do — but I did decide to let him know he could date me, if he so wished. I was going to tell him after work, perhaps over the phone or at his home. There was going to be a precise fluttering of my eyelashes, coy flirting, and a very gentle nudge towards expressing what I hope are mutually held feelings.
This is not what happened.
He makes me nervous. It’s something I hide quite well, I believe, under normal circumstances. I’m struck with the sensation of butterflies each time I hear his voice or catch a glimpse of him.
And so, I came on too strong, and — in spite of neither of us having plans, he did not ask me to dinner.
There’s a number of possibilities, of course. It’s clear he is attracted to me, but it’s possible this is where his interest ends — and that could be for a number of reasons. My lifestyle isn’t for everyone, I hold a position of authority at his workplace, he doesn’t enjoy my company.
Handsome, thoughtful, perceptive, capable Holden.
I’ve been in love with him for years, but it may be time to move on.
Ginny and I were only halfway through our first course — dessert, strawberry cheesecake — when I was notified about chaos at Deirdre’s meeting. Her lovely hand is once again broken, crushed by an overzealous vampire. The situation is curious, and I have a number of reports and information requests now to file — while assisting Deirdre with her own.
Orion is in Los Angeles. Once this matter is resolved, I can only hope he will leave.
We are destined for a late night at the office rather than a relaxing one at home. Still — my Ginny is going to come and keep me company, and later she says she’ll run us a bath.
Concupiscence: strong sexual desire; lust.
The word has Latin roots — cupere: to wish, to desire; concupiscere: to covet ardently.
It can be traced backwards to and is often a translation of the the Ancient Greek ἐπῐθῡμῐ́ᾱ, or epithumia, which shares its definition. Concupiscence appears upward of thirty-five times in modern translations of the Bible; in this context, it is also an inclination towards sin.
Orion is a problem. A charming, handsome, flirtatious problem. An expert gift buying, impeccably dressed problem. And this needn’t be a problem at all, but Deirdre has rules: all of her exes are off limits to me. The fact that I don’t agree with said rule doesn’t change how important the decree is to her.
Once you have decided you no longer want to have a relationship with someone, I don’t understand why it would then matter who they choose to pursue.
Most of the time, I don’t even like him. He was irritating when they were married, and his personality certainly hasn’t shifted in the years since. It never made much sense to me, my Deirdre marrying a vampire. She loved him, and she is a beautiful creature at all times — only magnified when she is happy and in love. I can understand, better than anyone I think, how often she falls in love.
What doesn’t make sense to me is the falling out of love and somehow forgetting all the things you used to savor in the relationship, in your former partner.
There’s a spark of love in lust, at least the way I experience it, but it’s a different process altogether. Sparks are ephemeral.
…Still. The chill of his arm against mine did nothing to soothe the tension between us. I find myself wondering at the sharp sting of teeth grazing over my pulse, the dueling sensations of winter chill and summer heat traced in turn along my skin.
And the only one who would fault me for the indulgence would be Deirdre — which has been enough to stop me from taking him up on any of his offers of attention. It is not enough, though, to remove the images from my mind.
The number of people who I am not permitted to sleep with is, in the grand scheme of things, staggeringly insignificant. The urge must pass. How fortunate it is that I rarely have occasion to interact with him.
is a rose petal
a dream of smooth skin
a delirious whisper