The Artifact (Book 2, Time Series)

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Chapter Thirty-Three: Stolen Cookies and Hidden Feelings

July 2023
Morgan’s Home
Richmond City, Virginia

}}}-----> MORGAN <-----{{{

Baking cookies had never been so much fun, Morgan thinks as she shows Wahya and Andy how much dough to place in mounds on the cookie sheet before letting them take over. Her train of thought wanders to her feelings about Wahya, as she washes up the mixing bowl at the sink, glancing over at him carefully loading a spoonful of dough for Andy, “Why do I feel like I can completely let go and show him affection one moment, but as soon as it gets more serious, I freeze up?”

Rinsing off the spatula, she speculates that it’s probably a combination of the speed in which they’ve connected and the fact that his future here in this time period is so uncertain. Then there’s the distinct possibility of heartbreak should who-knows-what happens within the physics of time travel, possibly separating them indefinitely. What if he up and got thrown into another time?! Yet, if he were able to go back to his own time, he should, she reasons, putting herself back at square one.

Up until her sister had come to the door, full of assumptions, Morgan hadn’t really considered the finer details of how a full-blown relationship with Wahya would work should that happen. Sure, she’d have no problem helping him adjust to 21st century life, but what would people - like her parents - think if she brought home a strange man who she couldn’t even talk to properly, who didn’t have a job, or a Social Security Number for that matter, didn’t have a car and couldn’t drive, and was completely dependent on her? There’s no way they would believe that he was a transient from the Middle Woodland Period and wasn’t some bum. She knew she wouldn’t care, but those who cared about her would.

“On the other hand, if it doesn’t work out between us, I don’t know what he would do! Who would he turn to? Where would he go? Can we risk that possibility? This is probably what Samantha and James were trying to warn me about.”

“We’re done Aunt Morgan!” Andy pulls her out of her thoughts.

“Oh! That was fast! Okay boys, let’s get these in the oven and set the timer.”

While they wait for the cookies to bake, Morgan queries the other two regarding lunch. In the end she decides that tacos would be the best compromise, as Wahya seemed interested in the canned pinto beans, and Andy simply wants more tortilla chips, of which she has no more. Enlisting their help in getting the ingredients for the tacos ready, Morgan finds both Wahya and Andy are highly entertained and intrigued by the opportunity to see the can opener in action. Before long, the egg timer goes off and Andy cheers gleefully, “They’re done, they’re done! Can we eat one now? Please, please, please?!”

Morgan laughs as she pulls the hot cookie sheet out of the oven, noting Wahya’s puppy dog eyes, obviously hoping to get a sampling of the delicious-smelling treat, too. Even if she hadn’t wanted to sample them herself, it would have been impossible to refuse the adorable pleadings and looks of either guy.

“Of course! Good cooks always taste their food - you have to be SURE it tastes right! Right? But we share ONE. Otherwise, we won’t be hungry for lunch!”

Morgan splits a larger cookie into thirds and watches expectantly as Wahya sniffs it, then takes a nibble of his very first hot chocolate chip cookie. Morgan can see the look of love-at-first-bite written all over his face, followed with an ultra-sexy smile as he murmurs, “Mmmm!”

“These are awesome!” Andy agrees with Wahya’s unspoken sentiments, his mouth full of cookie. “Can’t we share another one? Please?!”

Morgan shakes her head, wagging a finger at the persistent boy, “Nuh-uh! You guys scoot back to the living room and do some more coloring while I start cooking the hamburger meat for our tacos, okay?”

Obediently, Andy begins to drag Wahya out of the kitchen as she starts moving the cookies from the baking sheet onto a plate to cool. Turning back to the counter, she reaches for another cookie with her spatula, unaware that Wahya is silently creeping up from behind her. Letting out a small shriek when he gives her a semi-gentle poke in the ribs, Morgan reflexively propels backwards, slamming into Wahya’s rock-hard abs. He easily catches her, while deftly swiping the cookie she’d been moving, and simultaneously stands her back on her feet, keeping the cookie far from her reach. Within a matter of seconds, Wahya has stealthily slipped away, laughing mischievously as he follows Andy out of the kitchen. Morgan shouts a warning after him, a smirk across her lips as his blatant flirtations and teasing, heat her insides.

“Who cares what society thinks,” she retorts to herself, thinking back to her earlier thoughts. “Wahya is wonderful and I don’t give a damn about how a future relationship with him would look to other people. So long as he’s happy and I’m happy, it doesn’t matter!”

~~~

After a fun-filled lunch, in which Andy spent entirely too much time instructing Wahya in the art of taco-eating - even though Wahya seemed to have it completely under control - the two go back to playing in the living room, while Morgan takes the opportunity to do a few more chores around the house. One o’clock comes quickly, and Morgan answers the door, greeting her tired-looking sister who’d left little Curtis sleeping in the running car.

“Hey, welcome back! How’d it go?” Morgan asks with jovial concern, ushering her sister in the door from the rain.

“Real good! The doctor said it all went smoothly and Curtis should see some improvement pretty quickly. He was still pretty sleepy from the anesthesia and conked out hard as soon as we got on the road, poor baby!”

“Awww,” Morgan feels bad for her nephew. “Are you gonna be alright driving all the way home?” She asks with all sincerity, knowing the nearly two-and-a-half-hour drive can be really long when you’re tired.

Jessica nods, despite her tired eyes, “Yeah, I need to get Curtis in bed and Andy will be talking my ear off the whole drive anyways.”

The sisters laugh simultaneously, knowing how difficult it can be to get Andy to stay quiet. Hearing his mother, Andy pops in from behind Morgan, wondering where his little brother is and disappointed that he wasn’t coming in again.

“Why don’t you go get your backpack all packed up, then we’ll go get the cookies we got all ready for you to take home to Curtis and your mom, okay?!” Morgan suggests.

Wahya nods and waves politely to Jessica from the living room, smiling as he helps Andy get his crayons put back in his box. Morgan turns to her sister, “Andy and Wahya had a really good time playing together. They mostly colored pictures and read, then we made cookies and had tacos for lunch.”

“Oh, that’s good! He was good the whole time, right?” Jessica checks.

“Oh, you know he’s an awesome kid! It’s always fun having the boys over,” Morgan gives her sister a tight hug, knowing how worried Jessica probably is about Curtis and not wanting to be a bother to her younger sister. “It’s always good to see you, too, Jess.”

Jessica lets out a weary sigh. Her divorce had taken a lot of pep from her, and Morgan can see that she’s stressed-out juggling so much on her own, “Thanks. You too, Morgan!” Breaking their hug, Jessica asks, “Hey, did you get the reservations called in at the club for Dad’s birthday on Saturday?!”

“Shoot, no! I’ve had so much on my mind this week, it totally slipped!”

“Morgan!” Jessica chastises her sister who looks shamed.

“I promise as soon as you leave, I’ll get it done, okay!?” Morgan quickly replies.

Jessica shakes her head, then in a more gleefully upbeat tone she asks insinuatingly, “Are you bringing him to the party?”

Morgan looks confused at first, “Huh? Oh! Uh... No.” She shakes her head knowing that she’s got a long way to go with Wahya before getting her parents mixed up in it all.

Jessica gives her a look, “Morgan, be honest with me. What’s going on with this guy? I’ve never known you to have a fling.”

Morgan’s eyebrows shoot up in surprise at Jessica’s serious assumption and frankness.

“You’re too... too emotional for flings,” Jessica continues. “And I mean that in the very best way. What are you doing?”

Morgan looks into her sister’s eyes seriously, trying to put her real feelings into tangible thoughts. She knows that if Jessica were to know the truth about where Wahya came from, or even if the exchange student lie were true, the gist of their relationship in either story looks sadly the same to outsiders - either it’s a fling or she’s taking advantage of his situation and naivete. Knowing neither are true, she sighs before starting, figuring less is more.

“I know what it looks like, but it’s nothing like that. You’re right, I don’t do flings because I have to have the emotions there for it to work for me - so don’t worry about that. He’s just in a very complicated situation right now, and I’m just a friend helping him out.”

Jessica gives her a look as though she can read into Morgan’s soul, and continues, “Alright lady, I’ll take your word for it. But you know my track record for sensing romance, and it’s thick between you two.”

Morgan rolls her eyes and lets out a huff, wishing Jessica would just leave it alone. It’s hard enough trying to reason out her own feelings inside, let alone thinking about explaining those feelings to someone else. Yet, a part of her wants to know if her feelings for Wahya are to be trusted, and she knows her sister hasn’t been called “The Matchmaker” since middle school for no reason.

“Don’t huff at me Missy! You know my intuition never lies. All I’m saying is that I really feel strongly about whatever you’ve got between you, and I don’t want you to miss an opportunity to build a genuine relationship. If, of course, you really do like him like that - which is an obvious ‘yes,’ because he’s hot as Hell and you blush when you talk about him.”

Morgan almost releases a sudden giggle, acknowledging her sister’s dead-on remarks, but she holds it inside, accidentally snorting through her nose instead.

“Don’t worry so much about the complications. Follow your heart and the rest will work out if it’s supposed to,” Jessica says profoundly as she pats Morgan on the shoulder.

Morgan’s heart skips a beat at the implication that what she’s feeling for Wahya is okay, but given the situation, doubt lingers, and she nonchalantly continues to brush off her sister, not wanting to admit to anything openly, “Whatever! I love you, Jess! And whatever you do, don’t say anything about him to Mom and Dad, okay?!”

Jessica laughs, promising that she’ll keep Morgan’s secret quiet. Morgan, holding her poker face and praying that her blush is fading away, lies as best she can, “He’s not a secret! I just don’t want them getting the wrong idea, like you already have!”

“Whatever, yourself!” Jessica winks at her younger sister as Andy appears with Wahya in tow.

Thankful for the interruption, Morgan turns to Andy, “Got all your stuff, buddy?”

“Yep! And I got the cookies, too! Mom, wait till you try our cookies! They’re the best cookies ever!”

Morgan hugs Andy in farewell, thanking him for coming. The boy then sticks out his hand to shake Wahya’s, trying to be as manly as possible in saying goodbye to his new friend. His smile broadens when Wahya shakes his hand firmly in return, making him feel very big.

“Bye, Aunt Morgan! Bye, Wahya!”

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