Carthage walked slowly to his car.
Maybe if I walk slow enough she’ll catch up to me.
Maybe she’ll realize that she wants to be with me.
He stopped at his car and looked back.
Barbara and Sarah were still over there. Barbara was talking. Sarah was responding in her own way.
Carthage watched them with the ache of what could have been.
His car started up, startling him out of his misery. He turned and peeked through the passenger side window.
A female caith sat in the front seat. Her goggles were pulled over her eyes. The tip of her tongue stuck out the side of her mouth.
He banged on the window. “Hey!”
She startled and raised her pink-lensed goggles.
He rushed over to the driver’s side door and yanked it open.
“Uhh, excuse me?”
She licked her upper lip. “I would, of course, but this car’s energy is so delicious. I must have it all!”
He glared at her. “If you don’t get out, I’ll grab your goggles and throw them into the nearest manhole.”
She hissed at him and got out of the car. She was tall and broad-shouldered, but sadly flat-chested. That small fact didn’t stop her from wearing a red velvet bustier. Scraps of pink lace and white roses interspersed with antique watch faces decorated the bustline. A neon pink can-can skirt with embedded gears along the hem covered her lower half. Black velvet gloves with red fur stripes completed the look.
It looked like a lot of overkill to Carthage’s way of thinking.
She twirled and put her hands on her hips. “You know, you don’t have to be so mean to poor little me.”
“Yes, I do. I’ve had a bad day from the very start. You draining my car of its energy does not make it any better, believe it or not.”
She licked her upper lip again. “Can I have one more taste? Just one?”
“No.” He got in the car and drove away.
Sarah picked up her two drawings and gave them one last look before crumpling them into two separate balls. She stuffed them into her pockets.
“Are you all right?” Barbara asked.
All right? Was she all right? She’d just found her parents and sent her father packing. Did that really count as all right?
She honestly had no idea.
She shrugged and made a so-so gesture.
“I really am sorry that turned out so badly. I wish it hadn’t. I wish.”
Sarah shook her head and grabbed Barbara’s hand.
She plowed ahead, leading Barbara back to her car.
“Sarah. If you really would prefer to be with him, don’t let me influence you. Just—”
She gave Barbara an exasperated look and got into the front passenger seat.
Maybe it would be something she’d regret.
Maybe one day she’d wake up and wish that she had taken a chance on him.
Sarah shook her head.
He’d hurt her.
She folded her arms across her chest.
He’d never given her a real name.
He didn’t care about her. If he did, he didn’t care about her enough. Not the way Barbara and Ambrose cared about her.
Barbara got in the driver’s seat. “If you want to talk about it, let me know. Okay?”
Barbara buckled up. “I need to pick up my wedding dress. Do you mind coming with?”
Sarah smiled and nodded eagerly.
Barbara smiled. “Then, buckle up.”
Flames danced around Sarah’s wrists, but the small girl obeyed.