Part Twenty Nine

He woke to a string of curses, sotto voce.

In the field, Sydney was amazing. But from from the sounds of things, in the kitchen she was a disaster.

Nigel shrugged, smothering a grin, and gave his imagination free rein, just for a moment. He let the mini-daydream swell into a full-fledged fantasy, one in which he was lord of this particular castle and in which Sydney was his queen.

A derisive snort jolted him from his reverie, and he sat bolt upright, thinking Sydney must have overheard him talking to himself. Not that he recalled talking to himself, but it was a bad habit and he might not have noticed.

But it wasnít Sydney who stood over him, hands on hips, disdain dripping from piercing blue-green eyes. The old manís hair and beard fell in straight curtains that framed a wrinkled face, and a navy blue robe flowed over his lean frame. A matching blue cap rose to a peak over his head, its slubbed finish dotted with silver stars. "Get up, boy, youíre wasting time!"

"S-S-Sydney! Sydney!!!"

Nigel stood on the sofa and tumbled backward onto the floor, agape at the most unlikely face he could possibly imagine. At the moment, the fact that he wore only a pair of flannel boxers seemed supremely unimportant. Some part of him knew that he was looking in a mirror of time, seeing himself at an advanced age. "Sydney!!!" He pulled himself up, staring over the back of the sofa, his jaw slack.

His doppleganger mocked in a singsong voice. "Sydney!" Rolling his eyes for effect, the old man reached out and cuffed his younger counterpart on the head. He grumbled, "Oh, do shut up, for all thatís holy. The girl canít see me. Sheíll just think youíve lost the last dredges of your mind. I need to talk to you. Let her cook." His nostrils flared as he sniffed the thin smoke emerging from the other room. "Though from the smell of it, sheís as inept in the scullery in this lifetime as she was in mine."

Rounding the corner at that moment, Sydney stomped in, wearing a tee shirt and bare legs, her face and shirt smeared with flour and her dark hair knotted atop her head. "What is it, Nigel?" she demanded, eyes searching for anything out of the ordinary. From her expression, she really couldnít see the old man in the wizardís costume.

Some days, you just couldnít win.

Go to Part Thirty.

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