Emily and Riverbend went for a walk while it was still light out. It was cold, but Emily felt she had to school the girl quickly in certain human behaviors before they got too far along.
“Don’t worry,” Riverbend said. “I showed up an hour before we came to the airport. I told my sad little tale and your mother asked if I would like to come and fetch you since Tyler was not home yet. That was all.”
“Good, now about the lying.”
“I know. Humans don’t lie, unless they have to.”
Emily could not really argue with that. “Good, then you understand it would be best not to talk about you being an elf. You must try to appear human as much as possible. I think we can use the idea that you were raised in rural china to our advantage, but even that can only go so far.”
“Of course, I have to think who I might share the truth with, and I have to watch out for Tyler. You realize he will probably follow you around.”
“I think he is cute.”
Emily’s eyes got big before she squinted at the elf. “You are not allowed to encourage him. He is at a very vulnerable and impressionable age, is that clear?”
Riverbend lowered her head for a second. “Yes, majesty.”
Emily paused on that word majesty, but decided, “Good.”
They were coming back to the driveway when a car raced up to a stop across the street. A man got out of the passenger side and a woman out of the driver’s side. She shouted, “Emily.” Emily blinked and Riverbend was thirty feet away with a bow and arrow pointed at the man and one eye on the woman.
“These are armed,” Riverbend said.
“Captain Riverbend!” Emily shouted. “That is my brother David and My friend, Marion.”
“Oh,” Riverbend straightened out and the bow and arrow appeared to vanish. “Pleased to meet you,” she said and held out her hand for David to shake.
“Pleased to meet you, Captain.” He saluted before he shook her hand.
“And pleased to meet you,” Riverbend stuck her hand out again for Marion.
“And you,” Marion shook the hand but looked at Emily. Riverbend also turned her head as Emily walked up.
“I practiced that,” Riverbend said, proudly.
“Uh-huh,” Emily responded as she gave her brother a big hug. “We didn’t really expect you.”
“I didn’t either,” he said. “I saw Marion at the bus depot and she kindly brought me. So who’s your friend?” He could not take his eyes off the elf.
“Really?” Marion was excited. David just stuck his hand out again.
“And pleased to meet you.”
“Pleased to meet you,” Riverbend said and shook his hand again while she managed a slight curtsey in her slacks which was surprisingly graceful. They lingered in the handshake and looked eye to eye.
All Emily could say to Marion was, “I don’t think that was supposed to happen.” Then she tried for Riverbend’s attention. “David is in the real army.”
The hands separated with a bit of awkwardness on both sides. “National Guard, not the real army,” David said. “But I have been deployed oversees so much it might as well be the regular army. In fact, I am thinking of a career.”
“Were you in actual battle?” Riverbend sounded interested.
David nodded. “But behind the lines. I work in surveillance.”
“I’ve done some of that work,” Riverbend responded with a smile. “Of course, it was a while ago. Back in the Second World War, in fact. Doctor Mishka, the one you call Zoe, needed some help with a delicate situation in London.”
“Oh, sorry. I never knew humans could be so gorgeous.” David turned red, but recovered nicely.
“I was just thinking the same thing about elves.”
“Were you?” Riverbend looked up into his eyes again.
“Alright soldiers,” Emily said. “Now is not the time for fraternization. David, into the house. Hug Mom and Dad and beat up Tyler.”
“Yes, ma’am,” David saluted, picked up his duffle and started toward the house.
“Riverbend, no one said you were dismissed.” Riverbend, started to follow David, but turned to face Emily just as David took one last look back.
“But I like him.”
“I can see that.”
“A real elf?” Marion asked, not that she doubted it.
Riverbend lifted her hand and her glamour fell away. She was skinny, though not terminally so, and still carried her attributes well. She also had the pointed ears and the long legs, arms and fingers one would expect. “Do you think David will like the way I really look?” She raised her hand again and the glamour returned.
“I’m afraid so,” Emily said.
“Not my department.” Marion grinned. “Though I would not mind another look at that Roland fellow.”
“Oh, no,” Riverbend said. “Sir Roland is very married, and to someone who was once human.” She looked again at the house.
“Coffee?” Emily looked at Marion.
“That would be nice, thanks.” Marion said as they got Riverbend between them with the better hope of keeping an eye on her.
Next Monday, just a single post for the week, an addendum to chapter 12, Christmas Break. It might be called Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch… In your meanwhile, enjoy the holidays and Happy Reading.