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Penelope Strathearn’s Journal–Meddlesome Men

Archivist note: This post is from an older recovered archive.

==Initial Post==

((Posted by Penelope Strathearn on May 10, 2010))

“Hello, Jed! What brings you to Wheatstone?” I smiled in delight as my friend entered the Cafe.

She shrugged. “I had to come by Militia HQ this morning; figured I’d stop in and see you on my way back home.” Jed pulled up a stool by the counter. “So. How’s married life?”

I laughed, blushing slightly. It still felt odd thinking of myself as a married woman. “Great! Except the work days seem so much longer now. I’ve been here at the Cafe only a couple of hours this morning, and I miss Zac already.”

She gave an amused snort. “He’s just on the other side of town, Nell. I don’t think he’s going to take the family silver and run.” Jed glanced over at the samovar. “So, I hear you’ve got some of that fancy Turkish coffee in. I’ll try some of that.”

I laughed and poured her a fresh cup of the day’s blend. “If you’re staying for lunch, today’s special is Tomato Basil Soup.”

“Sounds good, but I can’t. I’m supposed to meet someone at the Salon around noon. Client wants to see the office….” She took a cautious sip of her coffee. “Speaking of Salon, I saw your beau there a while back, just after you two got married. He seemed to have his back up at Moses. What’s up with that? A bit of the green-eyed monster coming out?”

I stared at Jed, startled and a bit upset by the description. “I’d hardly call Moses that! I mean, sure, he’s a werewolf, but he’s in full control–”

She stared back, baffled by my outburst, and then she laughed, raising her hands as if to ward off my words. “No, no, you misunderstand…let me rephrase that! What I meant was, is Zac jealous of Moses or something? They’ve always seemed to get along well before, but…well, granted, I haven’t seen them together in a while….”

“Oh!” I laughed. “No, it’s nothing like that. It’s just….” I floundered for the words to explain what I hardly understood well enough to be able to articulate to myself. “You know how Zac is about always wanting to protect me and keep me safe? I mean, sure, as my armsman it was his job, but sometimes he takes it maybe a little too seriously?”

Jed raised an eyebrow at me. “Right. Because, of course, Lupindo’s been behind bars for months.”

I rolled my eyes. “Ha ha. No, I know he’s still out there, but the thing is, he doesn’t really have any quarrel with me. He was trying to collect a bounty, but the Ducal House that was paying him to find me isn’t exactly in a position to pay their bill anymore, which pretty much neutralizes that threat. And I don’t have any other enemies, not in Babbage, anyway.”

“So far as you know.”

I sighed, nodding reluctantly. Jed was right; there was always the chance that a Forsythe or two remained on this side of the Portal even after our destruction of the Maldon Device caused this end of the aetherspace tunnel linking our two dimensions to disappear.

Jed sipped at her coffee. “OK, so Zac’s uber-protective. What does that have to do with his spat with Moses?”

I poured myself a cup and walked around to the other side of the counter to sit beside Jed. “Well, Moses is the same way. Exactly the same way. So I’ve got two stubborn men each doing his utmost to treat me like a sheltered little hothouse flower, only having completely different ideas about the best way to go about that. Zac’s way, if I’m understanding the unspoken man rules correctly, is to protect me all by his lonesome, 24/7, without anyone’s help, because that’s his ‘job’ both as my Armsman and as my husband. Or some crap like that. And Moses….” I buried my face in one hand and laughed softly. “His way is apparently to surround us–both of us–with so many of his household members that if one of us so much as sneezes, an Arcanian will be on standby with a handkerchief to wipe our little nosies.” I giggled. “All right, I exaggerate. But not by much. And I suppose it didn’t really bother me that much–well, at least not at first–simply because I grew up with a full Armsman staff, not to mention household domestics and a chaperone, so I’m used to a certain lack of privacy. I’ll admit, it’s all starting to feel a little more crazy-making even for me now. But Zac? I dunno. It’s really eating at him, much more than I can understand.” I took a sip of my coffee, pondering the bizarre situation. “But they both mean well….”

Jed nodded. “So basically, it’s just your typical male pissing contest. Neanderthal machismo. I gotcha. It’ll probably get old, and they’ll be back to their normal selves again. Eventually.”

I sighed. “I hope so. Or I might just lock them in a room together and not unlock it until they’ve either settled their differences or found creative ways of killing each other.”

“That could work too.”

We both laughed.


Jed had been visiting about half an hour when Zac showed up. I smiled at my new husband in delight as he entered the Cafe and greeted Jed.

“Well, hello! What brings the most finely honed Dagger in New Babbage out this way?”

“Militia business,” she replied, standing gracefully to leave. “Here, have a seat. Warmed it just for you.”

“Zac! What are you doing in Wheatstone?” I asked.

He winked at me as he slipped a clean bowl out of the cabinet beneath the counter, helping himself to some of the Tomato Basil simmering on the stove. “Having lunch with my wife.” Setting the bowl to one side to cool slightly, he turned back to our visitor. “Commodore, I’d love a few minutes of your time when you’re able to spare it. There’s a matter I need to discuss with you.”

Jed’s right eyebrow rose slightly at the formal address, and she got that look on her face that normally meant she was about to say something sarcastic. “Oh? What sort of matter?”

I wondered that as well, but found my husband’s thoughts inexplicably shielded from me. “Just…a few security concerns,” he answered, his voice sounding guarded.

Concerns which he evidently didn’t wish to bring up around me. I suppressed a sigh. That could only mean one thing lately, as far as I could imagine. It probably had something to do with Moses.

With barely concealed exasperation, I poured Zac’s soup back into the pot. “Jed was just heading back to the Salon; why don’t you go ahead and walk her back and say whatever it is you have to say that you don’t think you can say in front of me?”

He gave me the wary look of a man who knew he was being given a pass to escape danger only to be condemned to return to it later. “Sure you wouldn’t mind?” He glanced at our guest with what might have been a plea in his eyes, although with his mind so shielded, I couldn’t tell if the mute appeal was “Please may I walk you back?” or “Please save me from this irate woman!”

Of course I mind! “Not a problem,” I said coolly. “Business first.”


Jed looked from him to me, then back at him again, as if assessing the situation. Finally she nodded. “I can spare a few minutes.” I caught a wisp of amused sympathy from her, although I couldn’t tell if the feeling was meant for Zac or for me. “See you later, Nell. Zac?” She left the Cafe, Zac beside her, leaving me to wonder what crazy notions about House Mureaux he meant to fill her head with on their walk back to Babbage Palisade.


*Comment by Bookworm Hienrichs on May 11, 2010 at 6:52am
One can always count on Jed to get to the heart of the matter. *grin*

*Comment by Cadmus Lupindo on May 11, 2010 at 8:18am
slips into the dark alley and uses the secret passage door while muttering “Dang Arcanians can’t walk a block with out tripping over one.”

*Comment by Penelope Strathearn on May 11, 2010 at 10:30am
That’s precisely the point, Captain Lupindo.

And Jed does have a certain…pithyness, doesn’t she? *grin*

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