When Coil left, after a brief detour home, I went to my new place. I’d briefly scouted the safehouses the week prior and had seen O-3. It was the biggest and right next to the boardwalk. In retrospect I should have just went there when Kaleb and I were being chased by shifters, but in the panic and ensuing getaway it had slipped my mind, which kind of defeated the purpose of a safe house.
A decade and a half ago, the building had been a Crab processing plant, back when the boardwalk still held a strong part of the city’s fishing industry. Most of it had moved away as to not scare away snouty tourists with the smell of seafood in the hot summer, but the bazaar had kept the fish market. After closure, the building had been bought and renovated to build lofts, which Coil had purchased even if he’d let it rot for the most part.
The room I had to work with was large; the size of my school’s gymnasium along with two other rooms that had been walled; a bathroom and a lone bedroom. The whole place was open plan and Coil had really let it go to waste; all it contained were a half dozen camp style beds, boxes of non-perishable supplies such as military rations, canned foods ready to eat and a security closet. I knew the codes and opened it, looking at what it contained, to make the inventory. While it looked like just about any old cabinet from the outside, the inside was a metal vault filled with guns, a pair of sword and a crate of various grenades. If the worse came, I’d be armed to the teeth. I closed it and locked it.
This place would need a lot of work, but I’d be able to build my own base of operation, my own sanctum. I only wished I’d been legal to drive, as of right now, the garage was wasted.
Then Kaleb called me.
“Hey Kaleb.” I answered.
“Hey… I just wanted to know if you were available to… eh… talk?”
“Sure. I’m not far from the boardwalk, want to meet where I first met Lisa?” I wasn’t sure why I didn’t just say Land’s End, maybe I was paranoid someone was listening.
“Alright, I can be there in twenty.”
“See you there.”
Land’s end was less than three minutes away from my location but I still left. I was hungry so I stopped at a small upscale pizza shop on the boardwalk. You could always get weird pizzas in Emerald City, even the lower establishment served such oddities as Chicken-Avocado or Goat Cheese and Figs pizza. My favorite was the Egg-Spinach one. I got small pie and left the place only a few minutes before the rendezvous time. I arrived first, so I sat down and began chomping down on the food.
“Damn that looks good.” Kaleb said when he finally arrived.
I handed him some and he began eating alongside me. We stayed silent for a minute, just eating and watching the last ray of sunlight over the sea.
“So, how are you doing?” He finally said when we were done.
“I’m doing alright, the elixir and your hands patched the worst of it. But I’m still sore everywhere.”
“Yeah, it happens… Listen I wanted to talk to you about… eh…”
“Last night in the cabin?”
“It’s okay, I didn’t expect it to mean anything…” I said, my tone lowering. “I mean we were both just in a bad state and I’d understand if you don’t want to--”
He kissed me. I kissed back. It was nice. Better than the first try. Although kind of weird as I could still taste the pizza...
“Okay…” I said out of breath when he broke off. “I guess that answers that question.”
“I like you Lauren. I mean we’ve known each others for only a few hours, but with all the events of it, it feels longer.”
“And I like you too Kaleb… But I have a confession.”
“What is it?”
“Please, promise me you won’t take this the wrong way. I feel bad that I lied to you by omission about being a Dhampir, which I why I need to tell you this. Do you promise you won’t get angry and you’ll listen to me?”
“What ever it is, I promise I won’t get angry.” He said, taking my hand and squeezing it gently.
“First I want to say that when we met the first time and the times after, I promise you I had no secondary intentions I just wanted to spend a good time and you just seemed friendly… But what I need to tell you is this: I work for Sebastian Coil... “
“You... “ He was stupefied.
“The day after we meet for the first time, I decided to stop pretending to be helpless and I did something stupid. I snuck into his mansion and tried to stake him. It was dumb and he easily brushed me aside, then I was left with two choices: To work for him or he would destroy me. I chose the former.
When I asked to see you, it wasn’t at his prompting, in fact he didn’t know I’d ever seen you, I just needed a friend and you were the closest thing to it. All I really want is to be your friend and that means being honest with you. But I understand if you don’t believe me or don't want to see me again…” I was about to cry. I was telling about how I wouldn’t mind if my only friend abandoned me, I was lying, I did care, the possibility hurt so much.
“You say Coil didn’t send you after me, after the darksiders?”
“He didn’t. He doesn’t seem to consider noteworthy enough.” It was probably insulting, but I wanted to remain honest, I’d been lying for days to everyone who was dear to me.
“Does he know you were with us?”
“I had to tell him last night, I was hoping he’d save me, he didn’t. He threw me to the wolves.”
Kaleb frowned, he spent a moment thinking.
“Does he control your actions?”
“Not directly, I’ve been sworn to do what he ask to the best of my ability, but he has restrictions on what he can make me do or do himself if he doesn’t want to pact to be broken. He can’t go after my loved ones for example or dictate who I will or will not be friends with.”
He sighed. “This really put a dent on the other thing I wanted to see you about.” He then said.
“What was that?”
“The darksiders want you to join as a member. Well, except Natalie, but three-to one voted for you.”
“Wow… Are you going to tell them?”
“I don’t know. Just tell me this; is there any chance you’ll have to side against us?”
“I’m sworn to protect Coil and his interest, if you don’t do anything against either of them, I won’t… And truth be told… I’d rather be forsworn than be forced to betray you…”
“Alright then.” He took my other hand and got up. “I’ll be honest, I have no idea how this will play out, but I’m not ready to just give up on you Lauren. I want to help you face all this bullshit and come out on top. You’re strong and not just physically, I know you can make it.”
“Thank you so much.”
I wasn’t crying, my eyes were just evacuating an excess of fuzzy feelings in liquid form. He hugged me and we stayed like that for maybe five minutes.
“Does that mean I’m your girlfriend?” I asked.
“I don't know… Are you?”
“Well it sounds nice…” I said getting flustered.
“I have a lair to build.”