Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Christmas Coda 8


James and Sedgwick from THE DICKENS WITH LOVE

 

 

“Your mother hates me.” I said when Sedgwick joined me on the terrace.

“No.” He brushed away the powder of snow and joined me, leaning against the blue stone wall and gazing out at the moonlit shingle beach. His broad shoulder felt solidly comforting against my own. 

I smiled, though I don’t suppose Sedgwick could see it in the dark. “Oh yes. Every times she looks at me she sees a line of unborn grandchildren. Your father can’t look at me without wincing.”

I didn’t bother to go into the cool and courteous disbelief of the younger brother, the two older sisters and even the nieces and nephews. All right, perhaps not the nieces and nephews. Perhaps I was reading too much into their clear, curious gazes.

“They don’t know you, James.” Sedge put his arm around me. “Once they know you, they’ll realize that I’m the lucky one. They’ll love you. As I love you.”

My throat tightened. To answer was impossible.

I had been to church that morning, the first time in my adult life I had gone to church with a purpose beyond attending a wedding or a funeral. I had stood next to Sedgwick in the family pew and refused to let myself think beyond the words on the page of the book Sedge held for both of us. I was  taking it one word at a time.

The breeze carried the scent of ocean and marshland and curry, the latter thanks to the spice grinding facility in the Rye Harbour industrial estate. It smelled foreign. Alien. Which made sense as I was half a world away from home.

No. England, East Sussex to be exact, was my home now. These politely stricken strangers were my family. 

Into my pained silence Sedge qualified, “Well, not exactly as I love you, but in their own restrained and familial way.”

That got a snort out of me. Sedge’s arm tightened, hard and reassuring. He bent his head and, breath warm against my ear, whispered, “Don’t let them spoil things, Jamie. I love you so much. We’ve waited so long.”

I shivered. 

A year. That’s how long we’d waited, what with one thing or another. A whole year of waiting, dreaming, planning. I’d given up everything, my entire life to be with Sedgwick Crisparkle.

And I’d do it all again in a heartbeat.

“They’re horrified about what I did with your book.”

Your book,” Sedge said firmly. “And there you’re most definitely wrong. They all think you’re bloody brilliant. As do I. You’ve kept The Christmas Cake in the family yet still managed to get the money I needed to open the school.”

I smiled. I was rather proud of what I considered a master stroke. Rather than selling the lost Dickens Christmas book that had brought Sedgwick and me together almost a year to the day, I’d had the book copied and republished as a pricy, exclusive and very limited edition just in time for Christmas. Sedge would have all the money he needed for his school.

But again, Sedgwick didn’t see the smile and he misread my silence. He burst out with uncharacteristic fury, “Goddamn them.”

 “Sedge—” I was genuinely startled. He swore so rarely, lost his temper so rarely.

“How fucking dare they hurt you? They know what you mean to me.” He turned as though to go back and do battle with them, my own personal and highly incensed archangel. I grabbed him back, laughing -- at least in part I was laughing.

“Don’t do it. Don’t say a word to them. They’re doing the best they can. I’ll win them over. I can be very charming when I try.”

He let me hold him, but I could feel his heart banging with righteous wrath against my own. “I know you can,” he said seriously, as though I might need reassurance on this score too.

I really was laughing then. “Sedge, it’s okay. It really is. So long as it doesn’t matter to you, do you think I care about what any of them think?”

His spectacles glinted in the moonlight. “Is that true, James? I wanted you to have a real fa--”

I interrupted, “I know. And maybe we’ll get there yet.” I drew his head to mine. “In the meantime...Happy Christmas, Professor Crisparkle.”   

 

 

  

 

63 comments:

  1. That's a perfect coda to the book! And let's hope the family are just showing typical English reserve in the face of an American stranger...

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    1. I think that's probably it. They just need a little time to get their bearings.

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  2. This is one of my favourite stories. I reread it when I'm feeling down. Thank you!

    Adriana

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    1. It's my personal favorite of all my Christmas stories.

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    2. That's good to know, Josh. It's one I return to again and again. Well, I do to most of your books - but it's definitely in the top league for me. Sorry I'm Anonymous - must do something about that! Sara

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  3. Wonderful! Just wonderful. I think these guys might be my second favorite! It must be like acting to go back and get into character with these people on such a limited basis after not talking to them for so long. I'm glad you're having fun doing them, it's delightful for us. Well done! Now, do you think you might do some Valentine's day, oh then Easter..Wonder what they're all doing for the 4th of July...:-)

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    1. M, you make me laugh. They are all your 2nd favorite. Can't wait until we get to your first.

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    2. You and me both!! What can I say? I'm fickle. Whoever I'm reading at the time is my second favorite!!

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  4. I wish to thank you these codas are a wonderful gift. I reread "The Dickens with Love" last evening so it was very nice to read their snapshot this morning.

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    1. I'm so pleased my little gifts are a hit!

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  5. I always have a soft spot where Sedgwick and James concern. Love all the previous codas, but this one is so touching. Sooo... Sedgwick and James! LOVE it!

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  6. Josh this was lovely. The Dickens With Love was my first Lanyon read. I read it every Christmas along with A Christmas Carol.

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    1. I think Dickens is the ideal intro to the bibliography. ;-)

      So glad you enjoyed this one!

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  7. Another heart-warming coda (^O^) Thank you so much for the almost daily treats! So happy to see how these guys are doing a year later, and it's nice to see Sedgwick is taking good care of James!

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    1. Yes! I was thinking what a brave and difficult thing James is doing -- and it's reassuring to know that Sedgwick is just as aware. :-)

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    2. Yeah, moving to a new place isn't easy - let alone to the UK in winter! I'm sure James will be fine with his 'own personal archangel' looking out for him though ;)

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  8. every one of these feels like an Easter egg. Like ive brought the Blu-ray of the story and have surprise extras. Its so great, even short its just.. super awesome <3
    Oh man, I'd totally explode with pleasure if Archer and Rake had one.

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    1. Thank you very much!

      All these suggestions of possible stories have been great -- although I was looking at the calendar this morning and realized I've got more characters than time to write their codas.

      I may have to make this coda thing I semi-regular tradition...

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    2. Oh my God. Don't touch us in the morning if you're just going to walk away.... ;-)

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    3. One of the best things about you Josh, is that you always are happy to re-touch on your characters. Its sad to have them done at the end of the book when you know they have so much more life in them. Its so great, in the interviews or even these Codas, just to see how the guys are gettin' along.
      So yeah, semi-regular Codas are my heart-song <3.

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    4. For what started out as a kind of stray thought, I'm happy with the way these are turning out!

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  9. “Well, not exactly as I love you, but in their own restrained and familial way.”

    Made me snort too. :)

    I hope you enjoy the writing as much as we enjoy the reading, but I don't see how that's possible. Each one is a treasure.

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    1. Thank you so much! It's genuinely a pleasure to revisit the characters.

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  10. Aaaah. Lovely. So, so lovely. And ROMANTIC. The Dickens With Love is such a special Christmas story for me too. It always warms my heart and makes me all high and jolly. :) And how sweet of you to let us know what happened to the book (the lost Dickens Christmas story) in the end. Thank you so much for these gifts, Josh. It's such a nice gesture that I honestly don't remember if I've ever received gifts this sweet (and let's not tell this to hubby...). You are the best, you know that, right? ;)

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    1. Aw. :-D

      Well, it's a delight for me to know these stories are being read and appreciated.

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  11. You already know of my deep abiding love for you. Damn it, now I owe you cookies as well. :beer:

    And damn it, blogspot hates me. FINE, I'll post as Anon but still... LOVE

    Rhys *grins*

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    1. :-D :-D :-D

      I wonder if you have to join the site?

      I know I have to sign through google, it has never accepted my LJ ID.

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  12. Thank you! I loved this story - probably my favorite after the Adrien English series (you know how I love series!) Perfect for the season, and what a sweet coda. (And dammit, I want to read The Christmas Cake!)

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    1. LOL.

      How funny is it that *I* want to read The Christmas Cake too!

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    2. I don't suppose I could prevail upon you to *write* The Christmas Cake? Terry Pratchett wrote a book within a book for one of his books...

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  13. I can't stop repeating what a wonderful idea you had and what a pleasure each of these codas is. BTW I can totally sympathize with someone moving to a totally different country. But apparently everything is all right for James.

    Thank you again for writing!

    Antonella

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    1. If not now, things will soon be very much okay for James. The main thing for him is that he and Sedge are together again.

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  14. Wonderful! Makes me want to read it the story again...Maybe I shall.

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    1. This would be the perfect time of year!

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  15. i just have to repeat what everyone else has said, this is brilliant. I've read Dickens with Love at least 4 times, and I tear up with each read. I love these guys...and SOMEONE *winks pointedly* should take a stab at writing The Christmas Cake.

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    1. Oh dear. That could be a very difficult undertaking!

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  16. Thank you so much for this! I have said many times how much I adore all your characters, but I don't think there are any that I have connected with as much as James. I actually read the Dickens With Love every year between the Battle of Life and the Haunted Man, and as luck would have it, this appeared right before I was about to begin the Haunted Man today. What a fabulous present!
    Claire

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    1. I'm so glad! Thanks for letting me know.

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  17. I can't help snickering quietly at the "Crisparkle"! It's a brilliant name for him. He's just so ADORABLE!
    Thanks for the story Josh!!

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    1. I do think James and Sedge are two of my best creations. :-)

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  18. I just wanted to say thankyou for writing these, I'm enjoying them so much. It's like getting postcards from old friends that you havn't seen for a while.
    Nick Cee

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    1. Thank you! That's exactly what I would wish.

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  19. Wonderful :) I know what I will be re-reading this week.

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  20. Ahh, "Jamie" and "Sedge". Their love is so palpable. I'm now even more eager to re-read how they met :-) Am I hearing a chorus of "let him write Cake!" ??!

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    1. LOL

      No, no. Surely that's...Happy Birthday?

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  21. Thank you so much, this was just gorgeous. For a small snippet you got a lot of emotion and story into it! :-) It was very moving and romantic. Lovely!

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    1. Thank you. For me writing it as well. I miss these two.

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  22. It's amazing how quickly I got sucked into their story again. I miss them! It's a lovely gift to know they are having a lovely christmas :-)

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    1. They ARE having a lovely Christmas. And every Christmas for now on will simply be better.

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  23. Love it! I, too would love to read "The Christmas Cake!"

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  24. Lovely. The Dickens With Love was my first JL book as well and has become a re-read for December, January, or whenever I need to smile. I especially loved the solution to funding Sedge's project and keeping the book in the family.

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    1. It was a first for many readers -- I'm glad because in some ways it's quintessential Lanyon. :-) A lot of what I want to say is in that story.

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  25. Ahh, now that just made me smile. Thank you. :-)

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  26. This is just right for these two. A perfect footnote to their story.
    (Holiday) Cheers, Kelly

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  27. I'm sitting here with a smile on my face. Lovely.

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  28. I love James and Sedgwick so much!
    This is not enough!
    Really!
    What a perfect coda and what a perfect beguining to a sequel to their story! There is so much that can be done for them.
    Did I mention I love them, yet?
    I loved what James acomplished with the book. I was very curious about it. Please, please, please: A sequel?

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  29. Thank you Thank you! Now THIS is a Christmas gift. I've wanted more of Dickens since it came out! Merry Christmas!

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  30. The Dickens With Love must be the bestest Christmas story ever. :D It's got everything a Christmas story needs. I'm so happy to see that the two of them found their new start (even if it's a bit delayed) and that James found a way to keep the Dickens and still make enough money for the school.

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