April and Caleb had stopped staring at each other in the living room and instead were staring at each other in April’s bedroom. Faith and Melinda quickly had enough of April’s coquettish giggles and had slipped out of their room to watch the news downstairs. There wasn’t really anything else to do.
Almost every channel was abuzz with updates on the Sandy Moss murder case and features about her life. Speculation was rife and very little seemed to based on any fact. They thought she was a kind, gentle woman, for a start.
Faith clicked her tongue as a new feature was announced: How Sandy’s ‘Kind Heart’ lead to her demise: we investigate Travis Davies.
“Do you think they’ll buy that Travis did it?” Melinda asked.
“No,” Faith replied. “He would have done anything for Sandy; some people just love the misery. I think that loyalty to Sandy will win out over his guilt towards April.”
“I agree,” Melinda concurred. “But then I still can’t believe that April actually did it.”
“Someone in that house was going to snap one day. Might as well be the one with the fangs.”
Melinda felt her anger starting to simmer as she watched the rolling headlines. “I feel for Travis, but I’m gutted for Broof! He was always so good to us. Sneaking us into the house, sneaking April out, distracting Sandy…”
“Do you think Sandy knew that he used her?”
“I don’t know. I guess not. I wonder why Travis hasn’t confessed yet?”
Faith smiled, “I bet he wants Broof to squirm. The guy was screwing his wife, after all.”
“You’re probably right,” Melinda said. “Wow, this really is a poostorm.”
“A ‘poostorm’ is it, Mel?”
Melinda pursed her lips, clenched her fists. “A shitstorm.”
Faith laughed. “Did that hurt? Swearing sounds all wrong coming out of you, like a cat trying to bark. Say another one.”
“Faith, this is really serious.”
“I know. I really hope Travis doesn’t cave.” She looked back at the television.
Faith snorted, “I’m sure he will; he’s been doing it for years—“
Melinda shook her head and Faith back-tracked. “Sorry, serious time.”
Faith found it a lot harder to control her laughter now she couldn’t take deep breaths. She was still chuckling when April and Caleb appeared at the foot of the stairs.
“When will I see you again?” April asked, fluttering her lashes.
“Soon,” she repeated. “Have fun… with Lilith.” She said the name like it was ash on her tongue.
“You’re going to see Lilith?” Melinda made to get up, but Caleb held up his hand.
“I think I’m better going alone. I don’t know that she’ll be up for company.”
April glared at Melinda as she walked Caleb to the door. She was still glaring as she stood with him on the threshold, making a point of holding his hand. She stood where her friends could see her and pouted slightly, inviting his kiss.
“Patience,” he whispered. “Goodbye, April.”
April composed herself before flopping down on the sofa. Her friends seemed remarkably unaffected by the whole, momentous love story playing out before them.
“I am in love,” she announced.
“Yeah,” Melinda huffed. “What was all that about? He doesn’t want to kiss you?”
“Of course he does! He’s just… a gentleman, is all.”
“Right. Hasn’t he told you who Lilith is?”
“He told me that she’s his sister,” April said, bitterly.
“She’s his sister?” Faith asked. “And you’re still jealous of her?”
“I’m not jealous of her!” April screeched as she flickered into her dark form.
“No, clearly not,” Faith said.
April waved her hand. “You’re the jealous ones. Can’t you be happy for me? We are making something beautiful from a terrible situation.”
Faith guffawed, “Oh yeah, it’s beautiful, April.”
April still didn’t get sarcasm. She smiled. “See? That wasn’t so hard.”
April brightened. “It’s almost dark, are you girls ready to go out? I thought we could set out a bit earlier tonight, see if we can find anyone a bit more appetising.”
“What, you’re still going to go out?” Melinda asked. “After chatting to Caleb? Did he not say anything?”
April tilted her head. “Like what? He said he doesn’t drink from people anymore, if that’s what you mean. But, clearly,” she gestured to herself, “he does.” She looked to Faith. “So, ready?”
“I’m not going, April. I don’t think it’s a good idea to be hunting right now.”
April looked irritated, but the expression passed in a blink. “Right. I suppose I can wait a little while. So, shall we watch a movie or something?”
Faith reached for the remote. “Yes. Some normality for a change.” She skipped through the channel guide umming and ahhing. “Oh look what’s on! Zombie Town 3: Pleasantview. We haven’t seen that since we were kids. Let’s watch that.”
Visiting Lilith was the last thing Caleb wanted to do, but he’d consumed his last plasma pack and his thirst was starting to get the better of him. Plus, he wanted to get a good supply for the girls. He didn’t like the idea of them hunting roadside; not only was he concerned that someone would recognise April, but it was no place for young women to be hanging out, however sinister their intentions may be.
He knew exactly who would be watching.
He had hoped Lilith might be out, but those hopes were dashed as he noticed the light on in the kitchen.
Lilith was dozing on the table amidst stacks of books and files. Medical paperwork, he noted. That was supposed to be his job. Lilith could name every nerve and vein in the human body, and was a very skilled surgeon, but asking her to do any kind of administration usually resulted in a scene like this.
For a moment, he thought that she would be too out of it to notice him, but he felt her barbs in his brain the second he entered the room and promptly put his guard up.
“Oh my word, Caleb?” She rubbed her face, blinking at the light. “I didn’t think you were going to come back—“
Lilith nodded, cradling her head. “Where have you been? I looked everywhere; the surgery, the village, the bar—“
Caleb tapped the absinthe bottle on the table. It rang hollow, empty. “Yes, I can see you’ve been to the bar. Does Joe know that you’ve taken this?”
Lilith smoothed her hair and tried to pull herself together. “I was worried about you. Fred said you’d been in, telling them about April?”
“I went to see her,” Caleb said, thumbing idly through the files.
“Oh, I see. At the old Davies house?” Lilith asked.
Caleb dropped the file he was holding. He crossed the room to the pantry and started filling his inventory with supplies. “Yes.”
“Right. How did you know they were there?”
“Melinda told me.”
He could feel Lilith trying harder to get inside his head; the sensation akin to being probed with needles of static.
“When did you see Mel—“
He sighed. She’d get it out of him, eventually. “Fine. First I went to the Moss residence.”
She blinked at him. “What the hell? Sandy Moss has been murdered and they’re looking for April. I’m sure the two are connected. Why would you go back to the Moss Residence?”
The thunderstorm in his mind was intensifying as she invaded. The effort he needed to keep her out was becoming beyond him.
“I didn’t know that when I went there. But, yes, fine. Here I am, screwing up again.” Please, Lil. Just stop.
To his astonishment, she did. He felt his mind instantly clear.
“I’m sorry,” she muttered. He looked at her, surprised. That had never happened before.
She picked up a file and he watched as each leaf of paper inside it slid out on to the floor. She looked at the scattered pages for a while before she wilted. “I can’t take any more of this.”
Caleb picked up the pages and slid them back inside the file, placing it back on the table. “Neither can I.”
He busied himself in the kitchen for while as Lilith silently wept. She was shaken from her thoughts by the sound of glass on wood.
“What are you doing?” she asked, startled.
Caleb had prepared two of the plasma packs and had joined Lilith at the table. “I’m in a good mood. Get used to it.”
They sat in silence for a while. Actual silence.
Caleb could not remember the last time he had been around Lilith and been allowed to enjoy his own thoughts. Lilith could not remember the last time she had seen Caleb smile.
She could have left it there. But something wasn’t right.
Tentatively, she spoke, “I met her, too. April. She’s… attractive.”
“Yes,” he said, dreamily. “She’s perfect.”
“I see.” Lilith watched him; she hesitated. “A bit strange though, don’t you think? Possessive…” She could tell his guard was down. She could feel the darkness flickering through her; the urge to probe. She tried to restrain it. “She said that she forgives you.”
He didn’t say anything. She sensed the walls going back up and it made her suspicious.
“Isn’t that funny?” Lilith mused, telling herself that it was funny and not infuriating, so she didn’t explode in a cloud of static. “If you were telling the truth the other night, about her blackmailing you, why would you ever want her? What could she possibly have to forgive you for?”
He could feel her scratching at his temples. “I can explain—“
“There’s no need. The second I saw her I knew that no decision you made that night was with your head.” She gave him a knowing look.
“This is different.”
“Evidently. You turned this one.”
Caleb emptied his glass. He could still feel Lilith lurking on the outskirts of his mind. Like a tiger, circling its prey. She just couldn’t seem to help herself.
“Did you meet Faith?” he asked her, a distraction.
“I did,” she replied. “If I’d had to pick one of the three for you…”
He smiled, wryly. “Those days are behind me.”
“Quite.” She stared at him, trying desperately to keep control. “What are you going to do?” she asked. “The whole world is looking for her. The net will close in, Caleb.”
“I’ll look after her.” It’s about time someone did.
Lilith heard him. She saw a flash of something in his mind that caught her off-guard. “Well, well, well. You do surprise me. There is a heart in you, after all. I only hope you know what you’re doing.”
Just give me a chance.
She sat back in her chair. Everything about this situation unsettled her. She felt like she was watching a car about to crash. But, as much as it pained her to admit it, perhaps Fred was right. Now Caleb’s got his girl, you should probably back off a bit, love. Leave the poor guy to his life.
“OK,” she offered. “I will.”
“Ah. So it only takes three hundred years for you to trust someone,” he joked.
“I’m in good mood.”
Don’t get used to it.