Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Shards To A Whole: Chapter 35

McGee centric character study/romance. Want to start at the beginning? Click here.

Chapter 35: Grandpa Scuito's Miracle Hair Pomade

"Did your grandpa ever explain how to get this stuff out of your hair?"

They're in his shower, and rapidly finding out that Grandpa Sciuto's pomade may have been a world beater when it came to proving stable hair that stayed in any position for as long as you wanted it there, but it was proving extremely stubborn when it came to removal. It's laughing at his organic, moisturizing, super gentle for dry hair shampoo.

"Will you hate me if I say lye soap?"

"You're not sleeping on my pillow cases tonight."

Abby turned and pouted at him.

Tim kissed the tip of her nose, and then pointed her face away from him, filled his hand with yet another dollop of shampoo, and worked it through her hair.

"I still think it smells better than burnt computer equipment and failure."

"You're absolutely right. That doesn't mean I want it on my sheets."

"Pretend it's lube. Getting that on the sheets never bothers you."

"Lube washes out. If I can't get this out of your hair, it's not going to get out my sheets, either."

"We could get new sheets."

"I like my sheets, they're soft and snuggly and..." That sentence trails off as it occurs to him that she said, "we" not "you."

His fingers stop rubbing the shampoo into her hair. His hands drop to her hips, and she turns toward him.

"We're not just talking about sheets are we?" he asks.

"I don't think so. I got my credit card statement today. You want to guess how much I spent in gas this month, driving from your place to my place to work and back again."

Tim nods. "I've got a pretty good idea." His own statement showed up two days ago, and let's put it this way, he can get some sheets made out of gold for what he's spending on gas.

Tim lives in Silver Springs, Maryland. This is located at the far north end of the Metro DC area. Abby lives in Alexandria, Virginia, at the far south end. And while a drive straight through town isn't horrendously long mileage wise, (about seventeen miles from his place to hers) no one in their right mind tries to drive directly through Washington DC.

So, by the time the somewhat less direct route's been worked into the equation, they live about an hour apart. The Navy Yard is somewhere in between, closer to Abby's than his place. So, say he wakes up at her place and wants to go to his place. He drives an hour to get from her place to his, then half an hour back to the Navy Yard.

Most people who work in DC and live in the metro region cope with this by using the Metro (public transportation) which would be fine, if it didn't close down at midnight, i.e. before they get done with work a lot of nights.

So they drive. A lot. But if they didn't have two homes, they wouldn't have to do quite so much driving.

Tim's thinking that's where she's going with this, and it certainly makes sense to him to go there. His fingers start rubbing the shampoo back into her hair again. "How long do you have on your lease?"

"Until August. You?"

"June. Can you sublet yours? Unless I'm willing to pay a pretty big fine, I can't break my lease."

"How big? I've got money, McGee." Abby runs the lab, and though it's easy to forget with her perky appearance and demeanor, she's equivalent in rank to Ducky, and makes about three times McGee's salary.

"I know. I've got money, too.  Just don't like wasting it. Rather buy nice sheets with you than pay three months' rent upfront."

"Okay. I can sublet, if I can find someone to take the lease. But my place is bigger and closer to work."

"True. And you've got a better kitchen." He's noticed that, when he's got someone to actually cook for, he enjoys it. This has resulted in both of them getting a bit plumper lately, but her less so than him.

"There's not really a good spot in my place for your computers."

He nods at that. "Or my typewriter. What are you paying in rent?"


"I'm paying $1675. You know, we could get a really nice two bedroom for less than $2500."

"We could. We could probably find a nice three bedroom for less than we're paying combined right now. Put the money we're not spending on gas and rent into savings for a down payment on a house."

"Do you want a house?" His fingers are stroking up and down the back of her neck as he asks.


"I've got $400,000 in the bank." Tim doesn't have a lot of secrets, but that was one of them. He almost never talks about money.

Abby turned to face him, eyes wide. "What? Last I heard your money vanished into a hedge fund, never to come out."

He shrugs a little. "Yep, vanished into thin air. Then I wrote four more books and made some more. They're paying me pretty well for the Deep Six books."

"How well?"

"Do you know how advances and book contracts work?"

"No." She's staring at him intently, and he's forgotten her hair for the moment.

"Okay. They pay me a chunk of cash when they get the first draft of the book, and another chunk when it's finished, and a third chunk when it goes live. That money represents slightly more than what they think my take of the total sales of the book will be over the next three years. So for the first Deep Six they paid me ten grand, and if Deep Six had sold like every other first mystery, ten thousand copies or so, they would have basically gotten complete ownership of the book at the end of those three years. But Deep Six earned out, which means it sold more copies than they paid me for, so every quarter they have to send me my percentage of the sales. So, for the sequel they offered me more money. Deep Six: Black Rock earned out, too. So once again, each quarter I get another check. But they don't want to pay me quarterly. They want to make sure that advance is so big that at the end of the three years they own the book and can do what they want with it. So the advance for Foreign and Domestic was three hundred thousand dollars, which they're pretty sure won't earn out, and so am I. Fairy Fire and Nymph Nights didn't earn out, so I made about fifteen grand on them. And, so, yeah, I've got some money."

She's shaking her head. "Yeah, some. Wow."

"So, anyway, if you wanted to get a house... I mean... I've got down payment money."

"You've got buy it outright money!"

He shrugs a little at that as well. "I'm contracted for two more Deep Six books after this one."

"How much will that work out to?"

"Five books in total. Call it a million one all said and done, with a steady sixish thousand dollars a quarter from the two that earned out. And there's an option for three more after the current five, that'll run at 750,000 if I take it."

"Remind me not to distract you from your writing."

He smiles. "So, you're okay with that?"

"What, I put up with you poor, but now I know you've got money, so you've got to go?"

"Something like that. Ten minutes ago I was a wage slave, and now I'm not."

"I can deal with you having money, McGee. Kind of like it actually. Though, really, freaking out over less than six thousand to get out of this place?"

"Okay, yeah, it's silly, but... I watched my net worth go from over 150,000 the two thousand dollars I had in my checking account in less than a week six years ago. So, I'm a little twitchy about my cash."

"I can understand that."

She's standing there, facing him, water beading off her hair like a duck's back, and Tim rests his arms on her shoulders. "So, do you want to get a house? Or find an apartment for us?"

"How about an apartment for now, and we'll get the house when we get serious about making some McSciutos."

He's grinning. "That sounds really good."

She looks up, kisses him soundly, and then sprints out of the shower, water droplets flying behind her. For a second he stands there looking confused, and then she's back with a bottle of dish soap.

"Dawn! They use it to get oil off the birds in an oil spill, so it should get the pomade out."

She hands him the bottle, and he squirts some into his hand.  A few minutes of sudsing seem to be making a difference. Her hair is still greasy, but much less so.

"So, it looks like your hair can be saved, and you will be granted permission to sleep on my pillowcases. Given that, do you still want to get some new sheets with me?"

"I like your sheets, McGee."

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