And you thought you'd seen the last word of the day. Silly reader. Now, I know these are generally short, but I was feeling wordy today.
And now... time for the fiction with a little bit of knowledge (it's like a word of the day calendar with a short story attached)
bedaub \bih-DOB\, transitive verb:
1. To smudge over; to besmear or soil with anything thick and dirty.
2. To overdecorate; to ornament showily or excessively.
Bedaub is from be-, "thoroughly" + daub, from Medieval French dauber, "to plaster," perhaps from Old French dauber, "to clothe in white, white-wash, plaster," from Latin dealbare, "to whitewash, to plaster," from de- (intensive prefix) + albus, "white."
Olivia jerked when a warm hand unexpectedly brushed her arm. The smile she flashed her brother didn’t quite reach her eyes. She snuggled against his chest when he slung an arm across her shoulders. His sweatshirt absorbed the tears trickling down her cheeks.
“How long has she been like this?”
Olivia shrugged. She’d spent two days on campus finishing up an extra-credit project, and Sebastian had been busy with end-of-the-semester reports. Neither of them had paid too much attention to their little sister. There was no telling how long Viola had been holed up in her room.
“At least I don’t have to worry about a phone call from her counselor.” Sebastian sighed, ran his fingers through Olivia’s fine, blonde hair. Ever since their father’s disappearance a year earlier, Viola had made a nasty habit out of skipping school. He was on a first name basis with her counselor, principal, and most of her teachers. If she didn’t have to keep up her grades for track eligibility, he feared the problem would be exponentially worse.
“I should go in there.” Despite her declaration, Olivia didn’t move. “I’ll get her in the shower and we can take her out for dinner. I picked up one of those ice cream cakes she loves. I think we’ve got candles in a drawer somewhere. If not, we can run to Walgreens after dinner and…”
Sebastian chuckled, pressed a long finger across Olivia’s lips. “Breathe, Liv. It’ll be okay. I’m sure Vi wants to keep this birthday low-key, anyway.”
“Yeah, you’re right.”
“Duke’s here. He’ll straighten her out.”
“Why is he here? You shouldn’t have called him, Bas. This is a family matter.”
“He got here the same time I did. He was supposed to take Vi out on rotation for her birthday, but she blew him off. He got worried.”
Olivia nodded. She was worried, too. Viola adored both Duke and Tracking. There was no way she’d simply forget about either.
Both turned away from the doorway at the sound of footsteps on the stairs. Duke, cradling a large black mug of steaming liquid, bobbed his head in greeting before barging into Viola’s bedroom. Olivia reluctantly followed Sebastian downstairs. She understood the need for privacy, but she wanted to know how Duke could pull Viola out of her funk when nothing else got through to her.
The bedroom was a disaster. Viola wasn’t a neat freak like Olivia, but the room was unusually messy. Duke shoved a stack of books onto the floor and set the mug on the newly-cleared section of desktop. He dragged a chair across the floor and sat beside her. When she didn’t bother acknowledging his presence, he flicked the tip of her nose.
“What do you want, Toby?”
“You can’t go skipping rotation whenever you feel like, Viola. Your partner counts on you to back him up.”
“You’re not my partner.” She didn’t look up from her notebook. “You didn’t even want me to go with you. You only asked because you felt sorry for me.”
“I think you overestimate how much I actually like you.”
“I think you overestimate how much I actually give a damn.” Viola blinked her gritty, dry eyes. She cradled her pen against her thumb and flexed her cramped fingers. “Thanks for the tea. You can leave now.”
Ignoring her profanity-laced protests, Duke lifted the notebook out from under her nose. His heart sank as he flipped through it. Viola’s handwriting was virtually unreadable. In her haste to write down every passing thought, she’d rendered the pages unreadable. She’d bedaubed the paper with ink and what smelled like chocolate.
“What are you working on, Shortcake?”
“Stuff.” Viola tried to snatch her notebook out of his hands. He held it just out of reach. Huffing, she flopped back in her chair and glared.
He was familiar with the desperation and grief swirling in her eyes. He’d felt the same way on the first anniversary of his father’s death. He knew Viola wouldn’t appreciate pity, but he couldn’t help the flash of sympathy. It was a sure bet she was researching her father’s disappearance. He needed to get her mind off her loss.
He leaned back in his chair and propped his ankles on her knee. “I got a call earlier about something eating dogs in Conroe.”
Viola’s pen fell to the desk. Intrigue softened her glare. “Big dogs or little dogs?”
“Two German Shepherds, a Lab, and a pit bull.”
Her nose crinkled. Poor dogs. “ Anything left behind?” She held up a hand when Duke opened his mouth. “Not of the dogs. I mean, any sign of a demon?”
“Dark green slime, or so the homeowners claim.”
“Smells like menthol?”
He grinned. No other Tracker-in-training would have figured it out. “You should have heard Max bragging about you at the last meeting. You’d think he could take all the credit for your training.”
Viola rolled her eyes. “You, Granny, and D….” She swallowed, blinked back a flood of tears. “Dad taught me everything I know.”
“Yep, and as a special birthday bonus you get to help me take care of the Aetkc.” He stood up, wriggled his fingers. “I’ll throw you over my shoulder and drag you out of here if I have to, Shortcake.”
“Fine.” She stood for the first time in hours. Her knees wobbled, her head spun. Once she regained her equilibrium, she grabbed her jacket off the back of her chair and led the way into the hall. “Can I drive?”
“Don’t push it, sweetheart.”