Close to Dead

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Chapter 29: Not the Same


I’d been home for two weeks and everything was back to normal, at least, as normal as things can be for a part Fae, telepathic waitress who is in love with a vampire. No one who wasn’t part of the supernatural world would know that our state was once again independent. For them, everything probably felt the same, but for me, it wasn’t the same at all.


The moment we got back home, I made Eric promise (once again) to keep me out of all vampire business from now until forever. I didn’t want to have anything to do with his bar, his ambitions, his political allies, or anything. If he and I were to have any type of relationship, I wanted it to be a real relationship between a man (in this case, a vampire) and a woman (in this case, me) and nothing else. I also made him promise me that he wouldn’t lie to me any longer. I told him if he had business secrets, he could keep those things from me, but anything that had to do with him and me, or just me, he had to tell me about them right away, or I would leave him and never look back.


He took me at my word, promised that he would keep our relationship separate from his business, and that he would do everything in his power to see that everyone else respected how I felt on the matter, too. Eric was super busy anyway, settling in the new king, making sure his notch in our little corner of the world was as large as he could make it, so I hadn’t see him very often in the last two weeks, but when I did, it was good.


I was finally back to work, although I was only working part time now. Sam had hired two new waitresses, I even trained them, and that made me feel useful. It made me feel like I was good at something, even if it was just serving drinks and food at a bar.


My brother was back to using me … making his lunch, sewing a button on his leather jacket, but I was back to using him too … my front porch light had a short, the lock on my shed was broken, so yeah, my relationship with Jason was par for the course.


I felt better than I had felt in a long time, both physically and mentally. I didn’t have bad dreams every night, only the occasional nightmare. I wasn’t looking over my shoulder every five minutes, afraid of something or the other. No one was out to get me right now. I didn’t have pain in my shoulder or knee every morning, or when it rained, so health wise, I was good.


I hadn’t seen Iain once since we got back from Nevada. When we parted, he didn’t give me his phone number, or tell me where he lived, or how to contact him. I asked Eric a few times, but he acted condescending, and told me if Iain wanted a family, he would make contact with me.


Bill had come into the bar a few times in the two weeks since we’d been back. I’m glad he and I were, for lack of a better word, friends now. I truly had forgiven him for all his transgressions, because I knew he was sorry. He often had that wistful, longing look on his face when he saw me. At least that was the same.


Eric. Well now, there’s another story. As I said, he’d been busy. Real busy. They named a new king. His name was Paean Après. Eric said he was almost as old as he was, and he seemed to think he would make a good king. He would be stationed in New Orleans, which was his home, and even the place where he had lived for hundreds of years, so, in a way, he was a native of our state. Eric joked that he was good looking, so he wasn’t going to introduce him to me, because he might have competition. I laughed. When it came to Eric, there was no competition. When I asked Eric what he was like, he smiled and said, “I hope you never have to know.” I thought that was the nicest thing anyone had ever said to me.


True to his word, Eric was trying very hard to keep me out of vampire politics, and I appreciated it, but in doing so, he was inadvertently keeping me out of his life, which I didn’t like. In the two weeks since we’d been back, I’d only seen Eric three times, and spoken to him on the phone six times. We made love twice. Yes, I’ve kept track of these things. I know to someone who has lived for over a thousand years, time apart means very little. Time itself probably means very little, but to me, time was precious, and I missed him. I knew he probably could ‘feel’ how much I missed him, but he couldn’t keep his promise to keep me out of his business and see me as well, so he was probably doing the best that he could.


Still, I missed him.


Yes, everything was pretty much the same as it was before, yet I felt as if it wasn’t the same at all, and I didn’t know why, and it worried me to no end. I really felt like at any moment someone was going to pull the rug out from under me, or that the sky was going to fall, or, heaven help me, the sky would fall at the same time that the rug was pulled out and I would break my neck and my leg!


These were the weird thoughts I pondered one day when I had nothing in particular to do, nowhere in particular to go, and no one of consequence to see. It was a pretty day, cool, sunny, but overall nondescript. It was still officially winter, but the sky was blue and the sun was bright and it was in the fifties today. I didn’t have to work, so after I did some light housework and showered, I put on some comfortable sweatpants, sweatshirt, and fuzzy slippers, and I curled up on the couch with a book I had been meaning to read for months. After I read a few pages, I began to think of everyone and everything, so I had to stop reading completely.


After giving everyone their fair due … Eric, Jason, Bill, Sam, Iain, even Larkin, I placed my book on the sofa and stood up to examine the pictures I had lined up on the mantle over the fireplace. There was a picture of Gran, Jason and me, taken a year before she was killed. There was a picture of my parents and Jason right before they were killed. There was a picture of my cousin Hadley and I right before she left, and was eventually, killed.


My God, I really was all alone, wasn’t I? I didn’t want to feel sad today. I hadn’t started the day out that way. I had started out thinking about things, sure, but not really feeling sad or depressed, yet the day was turning out differently than I planned. I looked at one last picture. It was a recent one. It showed my cousin Hadley’s little boy, Hunter. His father, Remy Savoy, sent it to me shortly after I visited them that time. My finger swept down along the glass in a tender way, almost as if I were touching the little boy’s cheek. I would never have a picture of my own little blonde haired, blue-eyed boy on the mantle, and that made me profoundly sad.


I kept the little boy’s picture in my grasp and sighed, and it came out almost like a cry. I walked over to my phone and picked it up. I knew it was only a bit after four, and the chances of Eric being awake were minimal, but he was awake that one day I needed him and called him early, when Larkin was here. Well, I needed him now, too, so maybe my luck would hold out one last time.


I dialed his number.


This time, I got his voicemail. He was either still in his daytime sleep, or he was busy. Either way, it didn’t really matter. I didn’t really need anything. I only wanted to hear his voice, and I got to do that with his voicemail message. I left a small message in return, nothing verbose, nothing overwhelming. I merely told him that I missed him and I hoped to see him soon.


I placed that last picture back up on the mantle and decided it was official. Things were the same. And I was still a bit sad. And that was okay.

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