Working as a lab tech was great. I didn’t mind the hard work at all, and kept up my research from the library computer. Dr. Elliot wasn’t in charge of me anymore but he was good friend with my new boss, so helping out both of them gave me that extra oomph. Plus I was starting to make a new friend. Milla Craine, a fellow lab tech who had family back home in Sunset Valley and had spent a couple summers there.
During my first week and a half as a lab tech, my mind kept wandering to Kellen. I found myself kinda hoping I’d see him at the library or in the junkyard but I didn’t see him for quite some time until one day, while at the computer, someone came up behind me and said, “Selene!”
I jumped, up, clutching my heart and then spinning around. Kellen was standing there, beaming at me. “Wh-what?” I stammered.
“Your name!” he said brightly. “Selene or Selena?”
I blinked a couple times and then found myself laughing. “No,” I said, smiling at him. “My name is not Selene or Selena. I haven’t seen you in a while.”
“Miss me?” he asked, looking happy.
I rolled my eyes. “Nooo,” I drew out. “I was just, you know, wondering why you were gone for so long.”
“Every time I went to the junkyard or here, you weren’t there. Or here until now,” he said. Then he rubbed his chin, thinking carefully. “If it were a Shakespearean name, I assume it would have been a different quote–since you are not Juliet. So I am assuming it has to do with the moon. Am I right?”
“Ah-ah-ah!” I said, waggling my finger at him. “I already gave you enough of a hint!”
“Okay, okay!” he protested, holding up his hands. “I’ll just keep with the moon thing. So not Selene… Diana, perhaps?” He looked hopeful and I shook my head. “Artemis.”
“Wrong again,” I chuckled.
“Rumpelstiltskin?” he offered and I began laughing.
“Do I look like my name is Rumpelstiltskin?” I asked.
He grinned back at me. “No, you’re more of a Selene, or Diana, or Artemis. After all,” he added gently, “those are goddesses.”
My head swarmed and I stepped back, rubbing the back of my head for a second then leaned down, holding onto the back of the chair. He was giving me an earnest, rather sweet look. He is hitting on me again, I thought, clutching the chair. “Well, those aren’t my name,” I snapped, pulling the chair out and sitting down in a huff.
He leaned forward, peering over my shoulder so he could look at my face. “Cynthia?” he asked and I pushed his face away from mine so I could look at the screen.
“No,” I said, working on typing up the report.
He leaned down the other side. “Luna?” My fingers froze over the keyboard and he saw my hesitation. “Luna!” he half-shrieked. “That’s it, isn’t it? Your name is Luna!”
I slowly glanced up at him. He looked really proud of himself. “Y-yes,” I stammered, looking at the report. “Th-that’s my name.”
“Well! Luna, it is a pleasure to meet you,” he said, offering his hand which I ignored. “Don’t worry, though. I won’t hold you to the promise of lunch, I can tell you probably don’t want to.”
“No,” I said, twisting my head to look up at him again. “I will go to lunch. A promise is a promise, after all.”
He stared at me in surprise. “R-really? You’ll go to lunch with me?”
“Yes,” I said, saving the file to my flash drive, pulling the drive out, and then getting up from the computer. “Lunch. Where and when?”
“Saturday afternoon?” he asked. “We can meet at the bistro?”
“Not the bistro,” I said. “I’ve been eating there a lot. Is the diner okay?”
He hesitated and shrugged. “We won’t be able to eat outside.”
I laughed and shook my head, grabbing my purse. “That won’t bother me. Saturday, noon, the diner?”
“Sounds great to me,” he replied, still looking rather surprised. Probably since I had actually agreed to eat lunch with him which really wasn’t so much. It was just lunch together, nothing more.”
“It’s a date, Luna! A date!”
It was the day after he had figured out my name, and Milla and I were eating together. We had been going out on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays for lunches and stayed in on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I had just told her about what had happened, and she was saying it was a date?
“No,” I said, shaking my head and taking a bite of my food. She smirked at me from across the table as I chewed and swallowed. “It’s just a lunch meeting! Like this!”
“I’m not some blond hunk!” she exclaimed and I glared at her. “Aw come on, from the way you described him… he sounds like a hunk.”
“He is a hunk of idiocy,” I replied delicately.
“A hunk of idiocy you never shut up about,” she giggled, leaning over her mac and cheese and wriggling her eyebrows. “You went on and on about him this morning.”
“I was complaining about him!” I protested. “Besides, it is merely a lunch meeting. Nothing else. Certainly not a date!”
“Yeah, sure, whatever you say,” she said, obviously not believing me.
I put my napkin down and folded my arms. “Milla! I have no interest in guys at all!”
“Oh, you’re a lesbian?” she asked, tilting her head. “I didn’t know that.”
“N-no,” I mumbled. “I have no interest in girls, not like that. Only as friends.”
Milla looked at me and tapped her finger against her chin. “Are you interested in guys as friends?”
“No,” I said, my voice getting quieter. “I don’t like guys. I mean, I’m not a lesbian. But girls are just–not as horrible.”
Milla spit out her drink all over the table and I jumped back in surprise. “Are you nutso?” she shrieked as a few people looked her way. “Girls are horrible!! Did you not go to a public school? Man, when I was in school the girls were just plain nasty. Sure, a lot of the guys were jerks. But they had nothing on the girls.”
I bowed my head low and mumbled, “‘Least girls don’t expect to jump in your pants.”
Milla reached over, touching my hand. I looked up at her again. “Did some guy hurt you?” she asked gently.
“Not exactly,” I sighed. “When I was fourteen and started high school… See, all the guys loved my sister and went after her but she wasn’t interested in dating. She was too focused on school and the soccer team she was on…” I trailed off, my mind wandering back to when we were both teenagers. When the rift really began.
The guys approaching me, watching me, following me. Calling me a mini-Tempest. They told me that I was like a smaller boobed version of my sister but that I’d “still do”. The lewd comments they’d never say in front of her, then that guy groping me. I protected myself, but when I tried to tell Tempest about it… all she did was snap at me and tell me to grow up. I asked her, I pleaded with her, to help. But she never did. She was too busy with her sports team and her own life.
“Guys were jerks at my school,” I finally said, the memories of eight years ago fading away. “Perverts. I had trouble with them.”
“You should give this guy a chance,” she said with a shrug. “He doesn’t sound like a jerk.”
“No,” I whispered, reaching for my food. “I guess he doesn’t…”
“Besides,” she said with a twinkle. “You never know, he might be Mr. Right!”
I began choking on the bite of food I had just taken and once I finally swallowed it, I looked nervously up at her. “Wh–what?” I stammered. “I never told you his last name!”
“What?” she said, eyes going huge. “What’s that mean?”
“His l-last name,” I said, staring down at my plate. “It’s Wright. How did you know? I never… I never said…”
“Luna,” she said with an amused look, “I wasn’t talking about his name. I was meaning he might be the right guy for you. But that’s awesome. Mr. Wright might be your Mr. Right!” She began giggling and I just glowered at her before changing the subject.
For the rest of the day, my mind kept going back and forth. Sometimes I found myself thinking about Kellen, sometimes I’d start thinking about Tempest. I ate dinner by myself, like usual, and did a bit of dabbling at my inventing table before hopping into the shower and putting on my nightshirt. Right before I got into bed, my phone rang.
I stared at the blurry screen. I could just make out enough letters and numbers to figure it was Rion calling. “Hey,” I said, putting the phone to my ear. “Bit late for you to call, isn’t it?” I joked.
“Lune…” Rion said in a tone of voice that made my stomach churn. “Kyle’s in the hospital.”
At first I couldn’t say anything. I grabbed my stomach with one hand, willing myself not to throw up. I lurched forward and then regained my balance. I heard Rion’s voice and I tried to focus. “Is he okay?” I squeaked out. “Is…?” I didn’t dare ask about the baby, I was too scared.
“He will be…” Rion trailed off and I felt even more frightened. “He will be okay. He lost a lot of blood, and th-the doctors all s-say the baby is okay…” Rion stopped speaking, his voice too choked up to be able to say anything.
“What happened?” I demanded, clutching at the phone like a lifesaver.
“Some guys beat him up,” Rion said after a moment. “Called him names, told him he w-was a freak for being pregnant. They really did a number on him, Luna.”
I felt so sick and then so angry. I gripped the phone harder. “But he’s okay? And the baby is okay? Is Ken okay?”
“Ken wasn’t there,” Rion said. “So physically he’s okay. Emotionally, he’s not. And yes, Kyle will be okay, and so will the baby. We’re at the hospital now. They’re giving Kyle a blood transfusion. Nothing is broken, just a lot of bruises and stuff.”
“Well, what’s bleeding then?” I demanded angrily then felt bad for yelling at him.
He seemed to understand and just answered my question without commenting on my voice. “One of them got a knife into his arm, but it didn’t hit anything dangerous. They say that if he didn’t lose as much blood as he did, they’d just stitch it up and everything would be fine. He’s gonna be okay.”
“What about the guys who did this? Are they going to jail?”
Rion was quiet for a moment once more. “Yes,” he finally said. “I just wish I could have been one of the arresting officers. I woulda liked to give them one,” he snarled. “Apparently two of them were resisting arrest and fought with the officers.”
I straightened up and began tugging at one of my braids. “I’ll be in as soon as–“
“No,” he said. “Dad said you shouldn’t.”
“Rion! My brother was just beat up and is now in a hospital getting a blood transfusion!” I yelped. “How can I stay here?”
“Lune, he is going to be okay,” Rion said calmly. “He’ll be released soon, and the baby is fine. All you’ll be doing is kicking your heels around. Mom, Dad, Temp, Kenya and I will be able to handle things here. There’s no need for you to take off time as well and do all that traveling. Not when you just visited and will be visiting again so soon!”
“Yeah,” I whispered, trying to keep the hurt out of my voice. “I guess you’re right.”
“Lune, come on, don’t be like that,” Rion sighed. “If you really want to come home–“
“No,” I cut him off. “You are correct. There is no need for me to take off vacation days right now, and do all that traveling when he will be released probably before I even get there.” I toyed with my braid and resisted the urge to put the end in my mouth and start chewing like I used to do as a kid. “Please keep me updated.”
“I will. But Luna–“
“Thank you for letting me know. Oh, and give him my love,” I said and snapped the phone shut. They don’t need me, I thought as I sank to the floor. Orion was right about me not having any need to be there. It was logical to stay here. No need to go home. Only, it was a want. And it started to feel like they didn’t want me home.
I knew living so far from home would be troublesome sometimes. And I was always the odd one out in my family, emphasis on odd. The only one who came close to understanding me was Orion and now even he… He doesn’t want me home, I thought angrily. They all have each other right now… and I am here, so many hours away, without anyone to hold my hand while I worry about my brother…
For the first time in a long time, I began crying. Once the tears came I couldn’t stop.
I had never felt so alone before in my life.