It was a very long kiss. It left them feeling warm and comfortable and happy. No words were necessary after the kiss was over.
John retreated to his seat and buckled up.
Clarice put her key into the ignition and started the car.
He settled back with a contented sigh.
She glanced at him and subtly checked him out. She smiled.
Mm. Mm. Mmm. I do like what I see.
Clarice backed out of the driveway. Her thoughts did not linger on the past. They raced forward to the possible future.
A future with him at her side.
A future with him living in her house and sharing her bed.
A future with her sharing his last name.
I wonder if widows are allowed to wear white the second time around. Probably not, but I’ll have to look into it. Just in case.
She side-glanced at him again.
But I can’t imagine him not proposing at some point. He doesn’t seem like the type of guy who’d string a woman along indefinitely.
He’s a good one, Gerry. I can’t imagine finding someone any better, no offense to you intended. Normally, I would worry that this is all an act. Or that he has secret control freak issues. Or…or some many things.
Clarice drove down the road.
But I’m not worried.
I trust him, this wonderful, scrumptious man at my side. John Addleston.
Gerry, I love him. It’s a mad crazy thing for me to fall in love so late in my life. I didn’t expect it. And neither did he.
Do you see us? Are you happy for me? Or are you disappointed that I’ve moved on? I hope not. That wouldn’t be fair.
Besides, you know I will always miss you.
LM removed his mirrored sunglasses and fiddled with the frame.
Maelin sat next to him. “Be careful with that. You’re going to break it.”
He folded the sunglasses and set them on the seat next to him. “Sorry. I’m nervous.”
“AAAAAALLLLLABOOOOOOARD!” the conductor called out on the speakers. “I hope you’re all aboard, because I am leaving now and I am not coming back here until May of next year.”
LM startled. “What? What? How are we going to get back home?”
“hahahahahahahahahahahaa…hahahaha! Just kidding.”
LM frowned. “That isn’t a nice thing to joke about.”
“You all better hang on to your hankies and grocery bags and whatnots because—-”
The train moved forward.
“—-we are oooooooon our waaaaaaaaaaay! WOOOOOOO! WOOOOO! Everyone say BYE, PINKERLEE! BYYYYYYEEEE!”
LM folded his arms across his chest and sulked.
“I don’t like how nonsensical he’s being. It’s all manner of wrong.”
Maelin shrugged. She didn’t even try to explain away the conductor’s behavior. “So, what are you nervous about?”
LM unfolded his arms and studied his hands.
But they weren’t his hands and they weren’t his arms. They belonged to a dead man.
His entire body was that of a dead man.
He set his hands down on his knees. “Just the usual, I guess. Being out amongst other people. Strangers. Having to hide my true self. Pretending to be Capernaum. Losing control of my disguise. Having people surround me and make demands of me.”
LM rubbed his knees as he considered his deepest fear. “Running into that vampire again. I know. It’s a nonsensical thing for me to worry about. Vampires don’t walk about during the day unless they absolutely have to.” He rubbed harder. “But that fear is there. As nonsensical as it is, it’s there inside of me. Capernaum saved me from him. But Capernaum isn’t around anymore. If he were to show up again…”
He stopped rubbing and pressed down on his knees. “I don’t even know his name, but I know his face. If I ever saw him again, I would know.” He pressed down harder. “He would remember me. He always had such a great memory. He would remember me. I have no doubts about it. He would look at me. He would call me ‘Fey Freak’ and I would be unable to escape.”
Maelin touched his hand. “You are not alone.”
LM blinked rapidly and tilted his head. “But I am. I have no home. Capernaum’s ghost follows me, but I never really know when he’s going to appear. I want to blend in with Robin’s group, but I feel like an interloper…like an outsider. I don’t know how to fit in.”
Maelin quietly considered his words. “Well. Let’s get through this whole rescuing Isellta mission first.”
“And then what?”
She smiled. “Then, we’ll see what happens after that.”
That is not a very satisfying answer.