|Collard greens, hoagie buns, pork chops, caerphilly cheese.|
Well, actually, dinner was after game, but y'know.
So, I put a few of the buns in the food processor and turned them into crumbs. I breaded the pork chops with those and pan-fried 'em. Nice and crispy.
I took the rest of the buns, put some strawberry jam and a little of the cheese on 'em and baked them for a little sweetness.
I heated some milk, melted the rest of the cheese, cut up the greens and stirred them in. I think in retrospect I should've used more milk and maybe some butter, but I wanted to keep it from getting to heavy and it turned out quite tasty, I thought.
Last time was quite a while ago (illness and weather and all kinds of crazy crap delayed us). So this time, the characters had gone to bed after the blood-soaked events of last time. The consensus, though, was that they needed two more entrants for the 99-year-race. Was that their responsibility? More to the point, Opal wondered if it was hers.
Next day, she met with her father and asked. He said that while it wasn't really their job to make sure the race went off, there was a time limit and it was within their interest to make sure it happened. Opal asked if he had any thoughts about who else might join up. He suggested talking to Cyrus Walker (the regular fixture at the Horse & Barrel), mentioned that there were probably a few changelings in the area that would be interested (but he didn't know of any other than Leroy that owned horses). She called up Lou and talked to him.
Lou revealed that Cyrus Walker (whom Lou and Rusty had dealt with a bit in Lou's novel, Double Down) was in fact a bourbon spirit. That didn't disqualify him from entering, of course. Opal decided to head out to the Horse & Barrel to talk with him. Lou, meanwhile, called up Clive and asked him to come to Spring Valley Country Club and try to bully some rich folks into entering.
Rusty and Alice, meanwhile, wanted to go to see Fitch, the gargoyle at Pike Library, but he doesn't animate until sunset. They went anyway, Rusty wondering what to do about Jeannine Kemper and her entrance into the race. Was she just doing it to get back at Rusty? (Context: Her older son Derek killed Rusty's mother in a gang drive-by, and his sister was sent into foster care and never seen again. He later killed Derek and his crew as a werewolf, and Jeannine apparently knows it.) Unable to let that go, he found her on Facebook, created a profile, and messaged her, asking her to meet up at the Horse & Barrel.
Alice wanted to get into the rare books room upstairs ("Special Collections," which also contains books of magic). Rusty asked at the desk and was told that the fellow who worked that room (Albert) would be in soon. And indeed, he arrived, and took them upstairs.
Opal got to the Horse & Barrel and talked with Cyrus (she noted that his bourbon glass tended to refill itself when she wasn't looking). After learning about the race, he said he'd consider it.
Lou and Clive got the country club and muscled their way past the "security", and into a poker game with a high roller named Bingham. Lou used magic and cheated and quickly won all their money - only him and Bingham remained. He gave Bingham's money back, and said really he was here to talk about the race. Bingham, being Lexington old money, had heard of it, but didn't know the particulars. He took Lou's card and said he'd give him a call.
Alice went with Albert into the stacks to find books on magic and pregnancy. A ghost appeared and whispered something, and Alice reacted, leading Albert to note that she could see the ghost. He also made Rusty as a werewolf, and after that charade was dropped, he helped Alice find what she needed - which he did by splaying his fingers to the room of books and then walking over to the one that "called" to him ("Libramancer?" "Bibliomancer."). The book was an account of a Warden of the area, a member of an old family who was still around, but for whom magic had kind of abandoned the line. This lady, though, had five kids and all of them inherited some kind of magic. She talked about fertility and birthing and such things (she'd been a midwife as well as a Warden), and Alice made a list of crystals and herbs and whatnot that were supposed to help with fertility.
They left and went to the Horse & Barrel, and Clive and Lou showed up shortly thereafter. They sat together and talked about the day; Rusty sat at the bar in case Jeannine showed up. She did, and with a sigh she talked to Rusty. He asked if she was just in this because of Derek, and she said that it was more that something had to change. Rusty told her what Derek had done, and she was hurt, if not shocked. She hoped, she said, that by winning this race she could change some things for the better, and Rusty, touched, said he really hoped her horse - the blue horse - won. She left, and Rusty joined the others.
Bingham called Lou, and told him that he was in. He arranged with Opal and Lou to come to his stable the next day and see his horse, but asked Lou not to bring Rusty Cromwell. Lou asked why, and Bingham said it was personal; Lou agreed.
Cyrus, at this point, joined the group (and suddenly they all had bourbon), and told Opal that he wouldn't be joining the race, not after hearing Jeannine's speech (he was on her side, apparently). It was now after dark, so everyone but Lou headed to the library (Lou's player had to head out early). They met Fitch there, and Albert, and talked about the race and the Bingham family - when he heard "Bingham" was in the race, Fitch asked if it was Arthur. Opal wasn't sure; it was the older Bingham. "That'd be Arthur, then," said Fitch. Apparently the family used to be very involved in the magical scene, way back when. He had a son, now, but couldn't remember his named (started with an A). Fitch perked up at one point and went up on the roof, to fulfill his "protect the library from evil spirits" duties.
Albert asked if anyone could enter the race. Opal said you had to have a horse; Albert said he did. He asked to join, and after Opal made it clear that he needed informed consent, she got the info for his stable, too.
The characters split up, then. Alice and Opal went to Opal's house to look in her closet and find something for her to wear tomorrow for her "date" with Albert (which Opal insisted was not a date, just part of her duties as Keeper of the Race). Rusty and Clive went to the Horse & Barrel to watch sportsball on the TV.
And then at midnight, Opal felt someone in the race die...and then be not-dead. Clive's fear-spirit passenger showed him a vision that made him gleeful: A car, veered off and smashed against a tree, the men inside dead from throat wounds. And another man on the ground near it, also bleeding, contorting and changing into a fanged monster.
Apparently the Black Court isn't willing to let this go yet.
OK, so I have some ideas. Short 'n sweet:
- Arthur Bingham is Albert Market's father (Market is mom's maiden name). They're estranged because Dad wants Albert to become a "real" wizard; he doesn't think bibliomancy is "real" magic.
- Bingham is also Rusty's mysterious benefactor. He started paying Rusty's school bills because he wanted to use Rusty's magic - even if it was just lycanthropy. Bingham, who remember is non-magical, figured that if he could keep tabs on Rusty he'd find a way to use him.
- The Black Court, but not Blake, killed Billy Ray and made him a vampire. They've made vampires of his crew, too. They're definitely planning on turning Fireball into a nasty-ass blood-horse, but they'll do it without cheating because they don't want to go out like Blake. And they're full planning on killing Rusty and Clive before the race (they're under no one's protection).