The following is an excerpt from my novel, "Runs in Good Condition."
In this scene, Linus's daughter, Irene, has just had her cotillion/debut. This throws some of Linus's fears into sharp contrast concerning his young clerk, Morfindel. Morf and Irene were caught "sneaking around" and Linus decides confront the lad over breakfast.
The First Book "Must Love Dragons" is available for pre-order through Hunt Press.
Miss Irene Weedwhacker, daughter of prominent local Ranger had her debut last night. It was hosted at the estate of Avery Bachausen where Mrs. Vilori Reagan and Mrs. Avery Bachausen both acted as sponsors for Miss Weedwhacker. The debutante wore a white muslin gown from Marc D'Alfin's and white winter orchids. In attendance were...
"Well that was easy. Like ripping off a bandage...covered in tar and live bees...on your nadgers. One down, three to go," Linus mused.
Linus read the newspaper at the breakfast table over his soft-boiled egg. Everyone else was still asleep, exhausted from Irene’s debut last evening. Morfindel was in their numbers, but thankfully not anywhere near his daughter. The poor sod was sleeping like the dead in the guest room. Linus didn't have the heart to insist he make the long trek back to the uplands. He wasn't an idiot though, and to make doubly sure of Morfindel’s whereabouts, he set Orin (who was an early riser) to guard the guest-room door. The boy had readily agreed on the condition that Linus made him a paper-hat. He was now marching back and forth in front of the door in his slipper-feet with a wooden sword at the ready.
"I wish everyone else was so obliging," thought Linus, sipping his coffee, "...and for such easy terms."
The snow was picking up again; it would be waist high before noon, which was just as well. It was New Years Eve and the plan for today was to have a leisurely family dinner. Months ago he had mentally included Morfindel in that family, but now there was a bitterness to it. He was no longer adopted family...he was impending family, which was starting to take it's toll on Linus. If only there was some way for them to be friends again.
A sudden outburst from upstairs snapped him out of his reverie.
"HALT! WHO GOES THERE?"
"Orin, it's me I–ARGH!!"
"Stand in the name of the crown!'
"I'll crown you, you little monkey"
"Oh, really sporting of you Orin!"
Linus was joined momentarily at the table by a rumpled-looking Morfindel. He was wearing a spare shirt and pants that Linus had left out for him, and his slim frame was practically drowning in linen. A livid red stripe ran across his cheek where Orin had struck him in the heat of battle.
"Any idea why Orin was playing soldier outside of my door?" asked Morfindel with a suspicious glance at his host.
"No idea," was Linus's deadpan answer.
"Uh-huh." Morfindel reached across Linus and helped himself to some congee. "Look, Linus..." he began after swallowing his first bite. "I know this whole thing with Irene bothers you."
"Oh, grand. So instead of being ignorant of my feelings, you're just ignoring them. Thanks, Morf. That's really cleared things up for me," growled Linus, buttering his toast with more force than necessary. He stabbed a few holes in his bread in the attempt.
"I'm serious, Linus. Look, making you angry was the last thing I wanted to do."
"Obviously not, if you did it anyway."
"Would you let me talk?" snapped Morfindel. "Do you always have to chime in with your little sarcastic comments? Gods' sake, man, just let me get a word in!"
Linus stared icily at him. "I'm listening."
Morfindel poked at his porridge for a moment before trying again. "Linus, in the past year or so...I've come to look on you as...well...more than a friend all right? You've given me a life and helped me find a home and a job...and taken care of me. I would be wandering around without a home to go to, and no one who gave a damn about me otherwise. I owe you so much that it just kills me to do something that makes you feel.. like I've injured you."
"That doesn't change the fact that you went behind my back and made my own daughter break the rules I put there for her own protection. Do you know what that was like? To see the man I've been treating as my son take my oldest child and make her disobey me like that? I trusted you, Morf. I trusted you to do what was best for her." Linus's green eyes bore into Morfindel's alien yellow ones. And for the first time Morfindel seemed to grasp how much hurt he'd caused.
"I never thought of it like that," said Morfindel. "I guess that really does make sense. I just want you to know that...I wasn't going behind your back to make you look bad or to turn her against you. I just wanted to give Irene what she wanted."
"Part of being a responsible adult, Morf, is knowing that sometimes what we want isn't good for us. You seem to have trouble grasping this concept. What else would you give her Morf? What would you be willing to do without thinking of the consequences?"
Morfindel glared at his congee without saying anything.
"Would you sleep with her?" asked Linus soberly. Gods knew he didn't want to ask, but he had to know.
"NO!" cried Morfindel immediately, looking appalled. "GODS, no, Linus! She's just a child!"
"Good. At least we're on the same page there," he said looking away in embarrassment.
He couldn't believe he'd had to contemplate his teenage daughter and young friend having sex. There are some things a Father should never have to think about, he thought with a wince.
"But what else would you give her Morf? Would you tell her to run away with you? To elope? How many other rules would you be willing to break? Can you give me some clue as to your train of logic here?"
"I want...to take care of Irene like you took care of me, alright? I want her to be happy and protected!" snapped Morfindel.
"Morfindel, don't you see that I want the very same thing? You must see that every time you ask her to choose between you and me, it only makes things worse! I need you to stand with me! Just humor me for two years. Just let her be mine for two more years... and then.... and then I can give her to you with peace of mind."
"I can't just be a doormat for two years, Linus," said Morfindel darkly. "Don't take advantage of my good humor. Don't use your daughter as a–as a grand prize for two years of submission."
"Fuck that," shouted Linus. "I'm her father, and it's my right!"
Morfindel jumped angrily to his feet and stomped to the door where he began to put his boots on.
"You said that you trusted me, Linus,” he said while trying to keep his balance. “That's broken now, I'll grant you. But why not trust her? She's old enough to start making her own decisions. Let her make her own mistakes every now and then."
"Oh, because that turned out so well, last time!" sniped Linus. He rose to follow Morfindel to the door.
"You don't always know best Linus! You're such an overbearing blowhard sometimes!!" cried Morfindel, wrapping his scarf around his neck. "One of these days it will be too much for anyone else to stand and they'll snap! Got that? One of these days I'll go spare and–and–and–I dunno–jam a pencil in your throat or something...but it won't be pretty!"
Linus just watched with a bemused expression as his clerk armed himself against the elements. The fact that Morfindel's arguments were getting less weighty told Linus that the Elf was admitting defeat. Linus, having burned out his anger was in a better mood again.
"You're not staying for New Years Dinner?" he asked calmly.
"No! I know when I'm not wanted," said Morf huffily as he stamped his feet into his boots one last time.
“You’ll never get a cab. The roads are impassable.”
“What, fourteen miles?”
“You’ve pushed me that far Linus!” he said and marched out of the front door.
Linus didn't even bother to move. Sure enough, in less than two minutes the knocker was being struck in a frantic staccato. Upon opening it, Morfindel strode in, red-faced and shivering with the cold.
"Like I said, I'm staying to supper. What needs doing?" he asked stamping the snow off of his boots.
Linus closed the door on the harsh urban wasteland of snowdrifts and shook his head. His bitter resentment had evaporated for, as always, it was impossible to stay mad at Morfindel.
"Can you peel the potatoes?" Linus asked, biting back laughter.
"Yeah, point me at them."
Tossing an apron to the Elf, Linus knew that they were on good terms again. All it took was three feet of snowfall.