This is the sequel to Pati's Big Adventure, which you should read if you want to understand it. Both stories feature Carl/Gabriel, time travel and my friend, Pati. I wrote it for her birthday.

If You Don't Want Someone to Read It

Cousin Shelley



"Calm down and tell me what's wrong," Van Helsing said as he held Carl firmly by the shoulders. Then the distressed look on Carl's face prompted him to pull the man into an embrace. "Just tell me."

"Jinette. He read my private—oh God, you're going to be furious."

Van Helsing wasn't furious so much as he was worried. "Carl, if Jinette read your diary, then he knows . . . we can just leave, it'll be all right."

Carl sighed deeply. "It wasn't my diary. My heart would have already stopped and I would be dead if he'd read my diary. But this is almost as bad. He read about our last . . . trip to the future."

"Oh," Van Helsing said softly, remembering how educational and . . . athletic that had been. He often wished Carl didn't write everything down, but he was an obsessive note-taker, and no doubt he'd included every detail of their trip. "I'm guessing it wasn't your notes about operating on people's eyes?"

"No. There were lots of body parts mentioned . . . but not eyes. But he didn't read all of it—just one page. You see, I got it mixed up with some notes I was giving him about an experiment . . . .

****************

Carl raced into Jinette's office, prompted by the bellowing of his name. He stood in front of Jinette's desk, watching the man look at the paper in his hand and look up at Carl.

"Carl, you are trying to kill an old man."

"Sir?"

"The notes you gave me, all very interesting, interesting indeed. Especially this page. Shall I read it to you?"

Carl had never seen Jinette's eyebrows go so high on his forehead before.

Jinette mumbled several words and only clearly pronounced a few for effect, and they had quite an effect on Carl.

"So we enter the room, dut dut dut dut, seductress, dut dut dut dut, excitable, dut dut dut dut, limber . . . ."

Then Jinette dropped his head and looked as if he were looking over the top of a pair of glasses, but he wasn't wearing glasses, and Carl wondered, just for a moment, how easy it would be to outrun the man.

*************************

"So, you see, he knows about it all because, well, I thought maybe we could go back for a while. And I had my notes out reading them again, and I guess I got sleepy and got a page mixed in somehow. So he knows," Carl said the last three words more a despairing moan than anything.

Van Helsing patted his back. "So . . . we need to leave? If he thinks he's going to do anything to either of us, he's mistaken. We'll just go away, and--"

"We don't have to leave. Oh, if only it were that." Carl pulled back and looked up at him with panicked eyes. "The page was all about umm, Pati and you doing . . . well, you know that point when the three of us . . . well, and—and we knocked all the pictures off the wall . . . and she started mixing up all the languages she knew and we later determined that she'd probably invented an entirely new one? Well Jinette was . . . he . . . it made an impression."

Carl swallowed hard and his shoulders slumped a little more. "He wants to come with us."

*********************

"Now, Cardinal, you just step in . . . that's right . . . keep your arms at your sides and just relax . . . no, no, we have to go one at a time," Carl said, giving Van Helsing a pointed look as he did so. "There you go, that's right, just push that button when you're ready."

As Jinette disappeared, Carl already had a hold of Van Helsing's arm hauling him into the machine. He started making calibrations.

"You sent him on ahead? But she doesn't even know him."

"No, I sent him out to the middle of the woods, yesterday. It was a lovely, mild day and he'll only be there briefly, it'll be fine. And the same malfunction is going to prevent us from following him, and we'll be here for a couple of hours, or maybe three or four since I'm scheduling us to arrive around her birthday, desperately trying to repair the problem and bring the Cardinal home. Repeat that if you need to. I've already written the notes for him to accidentally read later."

Van Helsing laughed as Carl pushed the button.

As they arrived at their destination, Van Helsing frowned and asked, "Couldn't you just go back to before the Cardinal read the page and make sure you don't mix that page in with your other notes?"

"That would be unethical," Carl squeaked, taking off at a run to look for the lady of the house.

Van Helsing watched after him, his eyebrow cocked, mentally adding the words he knew Carl was thinking but had left off: And not nearly as much fun.