Creature of Unknown Origin: Together for the Holidays

A Thanksgiving themed CoOU Outtake

Together for the Holidays

a Creature of Unknown Origin story

By Brianna R. Shaffery

Copyright © 2021 by Brianna R. Shaffery. All rights reserved. This novel or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission or authorization of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review where citation or means of credit to the author or work is given. Published by BRS Writes L.L.C.



I breathed deeply as I strolled into the kitchen, savoring the warm scent wafting through

the air with the hint of cinnamon and nutmeg. Mouthwatering, I watched Spencer pull the turkey

from the oven and shut the door with his booted foot. “That smells amazing !”

“I know,” he smirked, setting his oven mitts aside. “Grab the sweet potato casserole from

the fridge, please?”


As Spence hauled the turkey onto a carving plate, I battled the overstuffed fridge and pulled

out the marshmallow topped sweet potato dish. I even pulled out the apple crumb pie, knowing

he’d probably ask for that next.

“Oh, and while you’re— never mind, you already got it.”

“I remember how Thanksgiving goes,” I teased, placing the casserole in the oven to reheat.

Two pairs of feet crunched the gravel driveway outside. I smiled to herself. Delia and

Howie, right on time.

“I’ll get it!” I chirped as the footsteps sounded on the front porch steps.

“Get what?” Spence said distractedly, as he checked the meat’s temperature. The doorbell

gonged . “I will never get used to the fact that you have supersonic senses.”

I snickered as I crossed the living room and into the foyer of the cabin. The door had hardly

opened before Delia flung herself at me, nearly knocking me down. Her arms wrapped around me

in a bruising hug. Howie stared sympathetically at me as I smiled at him over Delia’s shoulder.

Luckily, the hug was brief and Delia was already moving on and into the cabin.


“I have been DYING to see this place now that it’s all finished, but someone hasn’t invited

me over.” The tall woman shot a glance in Spencer’s direction. “I mean, it’s not like I didn’t help

design the place or anything.”

“You also broke the budget, but hey, little details,” Spence said as he set the turkey on the


Delia huffed and shrugged out of her jacket dramatically. “Still, it was awfully rude of you

to not invite us over until now.”

Howie rolled his eyes before giving me a hug. “She’s been going on about it all week.”

I laughed, pulling away to go help Spencer set the table. “It wouldn’t be Delia if she didn’t.”

As Howie set his jacket next to Delia’s , I saw the raven-haired woman disappear down the

hall. She was obviously on a mission to view her handiwork. I remembered Spencer had asked for

her and Annette’s help with designing the cabin while we ’d all had worked on the interdimensional

portal Annette had mistakenly built while researching worm holes. While she and Howie rebuilt

it, Spencer had apparently gotten it in his head to renovate the cabin in the event that I decided to

stay with him until finding a place I could call my own in this world.

But, and this had taken a lot of soul-searching in the long months it had taken my friends

to repair the machine, I didn’t want to find my own place. Even though I can’t return to the world —

my world — Annette had accidentally pulled me from when she’d turned on the machine for the

first time , Spencer’s cabin felt like home.

He felt like home.

And yes, he’d gone t hrough an apparently painstaking process to add another bathroom

and bedroom onto the cabin — it hadn’t been necessary in the end.


I bit my lip, setting the mixed vegetables on the table. Howie took his seat at the round

table beside me as Spencer set the sweet potato casserole down and took his own seat on my other


“Delia! Get your ass back here before there’s nothing left!” He called out to her.

I smacked his arm playfully. “Sh h … she might’ve heard you!”

“Let her snoop,” Howie said, already piling food onto his plate and passing the bowl of

steaming mashed potatoes to me . “More for us that way. Is Annette coming?”

“No,” I replied, pouring a generous puddle of gravy into the indentation I ’d made in my

potatoes. “ S he’s spending Thanksgiving with her family.”

“More pie for us then.” Howie lifted his wineglass in a toast before taking a swig . “Though

it would be nice to see her again. I’d like to ask her more about the—”

I lost herself in the delicious mixture of cranberry sauce and turkey flooding my tongue as

Howie rattled off some technical term I suspected had to do with the portal.

“Oh, Howie,” Delia sighed as she slid into her seat at long last , “I thought we were leaving

work out of the holiday and just enjoying the time off from killing people, hunting people down,

and building interdimensional portals in our free time.”

“I am! This isn’t work at all, it’s a hobby and holidays are all about what relaxes and makes

you happy ,” he argued. “For instance, what are you grateful for or happy for, Spencer ?”

Spencer’s fork stopped halfway to his mouth. “Um… the fact that I’m still alive?”

Delia snorted, raising her wineglass . “I’ll drink to that.”

“Ava, please, help me out here,” Howie begged. “These two are hopeless!”

“I—” I started. Being alive was a pret ty good thing to be thankful for, but I knew Howie

wanted an earnest answer. Between all of us, Howie had the most heart, and that was saying


something considering the fact that he was the brains of our rag-tag crew of assassins — well, the

technical brains. Delia was most definitely in charge of the whole operation, just not the

technological aspect of it . “I guess I’m just grateful to have such wonderful friends and, uh, love

in my life?”

Spencer reached over and grasped my hand under the table. “You’re such a softie.”

“Says the man who renovated his entire home to make me more comfortable here and make

sure I’d stay,” I laughed . “I’m beginning to think it’s Stockholm Syndrome.”

Spencer shook his head, laughing as his hand slipped from mine. He returned to his plate

without another word, but I could see the twinkle in his eye s. He knew exactly what I’d meant by

‘love’, just like I knew what he’d meant by holding my hand .

“That’s cute,” Delia said, helping herself to more casserole, “but I definitely think bei ng

alive trumps friendship and love.”

“Maybe we all need a career change if ‘being alive’ is the thing we’re most grateful for,”

Howie mused . “I mean, what has being guns for hire really gotten us?”

“A twisted sense of humor?” Delia offered.

“Friendship?” I added, setting my plate aside. That was an awful lot of turkey and cranberry

sauce and gravy, and we hadn’t even gotten to dessert yet. I rubbed my stomach absently . Already

the sweet scent of apple pie called out to me like a distant echo of the most delightful dream.

“Love?” Spencer joked.

“No, I’m serious,” Howie insisted. “Things have changed, we’ve changed. Is this ‘ life ’

sustainable anymore?”

At Howie’s words, everyone glanced at each other. Unspoken questions lingered in the air

like an oppressive heat. I sank into my chair. His words didn’t really apply to me, as I’d had a


minimal part in the Richardson case and had only known about any of this for a handful of months.

Before that, the amnesia from coming through the portal kept me in ignorant bliss after Spencer

had rescued me from Kelman.

Spencer cleared his throat and set his utensils aside. “What are you talking about, Howie?”

Delia’s face had etched itself into that dangerous, calculating calm. I’d always wondered

if Howie was immune to being on its receiving end, being that Delia and he obviously had a thing

going on.

“Yeah, Howie, what are you talking about?” She sat back in her chair and crossed an arm

over her chest, the other daintily held her wineglass aloft.

“Is this really what we all want to do with our lives? Look around.” His voice was pleading,

almost desperate. “We’re a family now, all of us, and I know Spencer loves Ava just as much as I

love you. I, for one, would very much like to enjoy what we have without worrying about the two

of you going off to do someone else’s noble dirty work, and I don’t know, maybe settle down and

get that white picket fence people dream about. Do we really want to keep trying our luck by

dodging death at every turn?”

I glanced over at Spencer, finding his eyes already on me.

“I’ve already set us all up with new lives in the past ,” Howie argued. “Why not do it one

last time, this time for good? We can all start over, even Annette. Clean slates! Legitimate, honest

lives! ”

In the silence that follow ed, Spencer reached over and grasped my hand. We’d talked a lot

about the future, where ever it may lead us. I really hoped he was in mine as much as I wanted to

be in his.

“What do you want, Av?” He asked.


I gulped, realizing he was lea ving this decision up to me, even though it really should’ve

been his. “You’re the one pulling the trigger. I can’t make this decision for you.”

He nodded, bringing our joined hands to his lips. He brushed his lips against the back of

my hand, but didn’t let go. My heart pounded in my chest. I didn’t want him to keep doing this.

He — we —deserved a better life, a normal life. “I think I’ d already decided a long time ago that

Richardson was my last case . Delia?”

Her hardened face and posture lost all tension. Letting out a humorless laugh, she looked

over at Howie. “What are we going to do now?”

“Whatever we want,” he breathed, taking his hand in hers.

“Well, right now, we need to clear the table for dessert.” Spencer rose from his chair .

Letting go of my hand, he scooped up both of our plates and gave me a quick kiss on the top of

my head.

I smiled, shaking my head as I stood and began to help clear the table. Howie and Delia

pitched in even though Spencer and I had told them not to worry, that they were our guests.

Our guests, in our house, at our table.

Spencer was willing to walk beside me into the great unknown as we wrote the next chapter

of our lives, together for the foreseeable future . I couldn’t stop smiling over dessert, and it had

nothing to do with the pie — though it was delicious and gooey and everything you could want

from an apple crumb pie with flakey crust and just the right amount of apples and spices to

compliment the sweetness.

Glancing over at Spencer, I wondered what we would do with our lives, our future. Would

it be ours? Or would we eventually part ways and lose touch with each other?


When his warm eyes met mine, I knew he had no intention of letting that happen. I was

glad when Delia and Howie left after we cleared dessert off of the table. As we watched them walk

to their car and wave goodbye, I could hear Delia asking Howie what they would do with their

lives and all the possibilities for the future. Would Howie go into cyber security? Should she

become a politician? Or maybe apply for a job in Homeland Security?

“As much as I like our friends, I’m sure glad they’re gone,” Spence said quietly as their

taillights disappeared from sight thanks to the thick evergreens surrounding the cabin.

“And why’s that?” I grinned, folding myself against his side as he wrapped an arm around

my waist.

“Because now I can do this without Delia dragging me through the mud.”

Spencer tilted my head up with his hand, pulling me around to stand in front of him without

there ever being the smallest bit of space between us. His lips pressed against mine softly. I smiled

against his lips and wrapped my arms around his neck, clasping my hands behind his head.

Barely pulli ng away, he murmured, “I’m grateful for you , and nothing will ever change


I brushed my nose against his . “Good, because I don’t ever want to lose you.”

Spencer chuckled , pressing another lazy kiss to my lips. “Never, sweetheart, I promise.”

Shakily, I took a breath. Staring up into his eyes, I saw only warmth and the deepest love I

have ever seen reflected back at me.

“Kiss me again?” I breathed, fluttering my lashes.

“With pleasure.”


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