Keeping London (Flawed Heart, #2) - Ellie Wade

Age Five

Seattle, Washington

“Magic already lives in my mind and heart. I just have to make it.”

—Loïc Berkeley

“Please be a king. Please be a king,” I chant as I get ready to lay down the card in my hand.

Nan looks at me funny, a smile on her face. “Why do you say that, dear?”

“Because all the other face cards have been laid down, so if I have the king, then I am going to win.” I grin big, grasping the card to my chest.

Nan shakes her head. “You are a bright one, Loïc, my dear. I don’t know how you keep track of what’s been played thus far.”

I shrug. “Just really smart, I guess.”

Nan laughs. “That, you are, love—the smartest.”

I’m playing war with the new cards Granddad and Nan got me for Christmas. They have a picture of a giant Ferris wheel on them. Nan said that the Ferris wheel is called the London Eye, and when you ride it, you can see the whole city from the top. She promised to take me there when I go visit them. I can’t wait. I got to ride a Ferris wheel last summer at the fair, but Daddy said it was very small compared to the one in London. Everything in London is cooler.

“On the count of three, Nan. Okay?”

“All right,” she agrees.

“One. Two. Three.”

Each of us lays down the card in our hand. I cheer when I see that I hold the king, which allows me to take Nan’s last card—a nine—from her. In the game of war, a king will beat any card but an ace.

I stand from the table to do my winner’s dance. I jerk my arms from side to side and wiggle my butt a lot. The butt part is important because it makes everyone laugh, and when they’re laughing, they won’t feel bad about losing. It always works. Nan is laughing from across the table, and I smile. I love winning, but it wouldn’t be fun if I hurt someone’s feelings.

I stop when I hear Granddad yelling from behind me. I turn to see him using a couch pillow to hit the wall.

“Damn wasps! Always such a nuisance this time of year!”

I walk into the living room and squint toward the wall, looking for wasps.

Nan passes me and lays her hand on Granddad’s arm. “Henry, dear, there are no wasps in here. It’s December.”

My daddy goes by me with a pillow in his hand. “It’s fine, Mum.” He pats her on the back before he swings the pillow at the wall. “There, Pop, I got the last of them,” he says cheerfully as he takes the pillow from Granddad’s hand.

Granddad nods. “Good, son. You really should spray, you know? You don’t want those buggers stinging little Loïc.”

“You’re right. I’ll do that,” Daddy answers while he places the pillows back on the couch.

Granddad sits down and continues watching TV. He loves American TV. He says it’s so much more exciting than the dull rubbish they have over there in England.

“We have time for a couple of cribbage games before bed. Do you want to give it another go?” Nan asks me.

They got me a wooden cribbage game for Christmas, too. Nan said it was one of her favorite games as a kid. She said it’s usually for kids a little older than I am, but she got it for me because I’m so smart with numbers. We’ve played a few times, and I pretty much understand it all now.

But the thought of going to bed makes me sad because I know, when I wake up in the morning, Nan and Granddad will be gone. Nan said they have a really early flight.

“I don’t want to go to bed, Nan.”

She gently pats my hand as we sit at the table again. “I know you don’t, love. I’m really going to miss you, too.”

“Do you have to go back? Can’t you stay here until we can move there with you?” I love when Nan and Granddad visit. I will be sad when they leave.

“We can’t, but we’ll see you again soon, dear.”

“It’s not fair. I want to go with you now. Why can’t we just move now?”

“Well, love, your mum and dad have stuff they have to work out here. Your dad has a good job. Your mum has her doctors here. But I know, someday, you will all come. We just have to be patient.”

Daddy works a lot because Mommy’s baby doctors cost tons of money. I think, after