Everything went in a bit of a blur after I agreed to work with the Reddings. I filled out information, was told I’d receive an ID card in the mail soon, and then wrote down my first day of work which was in two and a half weeks.
I left Acinert feeling dizzy. Once I got back into town I went straight to S&W and handed in my two weeks’ notice. As I took a cab home, I texted Kellen to let him know I had left Acinert and was on my way home. Safe. Well, as safe as I really was in this situation.
When I got home, I collapsed onto my sofa and rubbed my forehead, feeling rather sick to my stomach. It wasn’t long before my phone started buzzing and when I glanced at the caller ID I saw it was Milla. I pressed ‘ignore’ and then took off my glasses, rubbing my eyes now. A job is a job, I told myself as Milla tried calling me back. Orion disliked the local police when he started working there. That’s why he took the job.
I put my glasses back on and picked up my phone as I got a text. Milla. Is it true u quitting?
I bit my bottom lip then replied, Yes. I will explain tomorrow. I’m not feeling well right now, sorry.
I took a long hot shower, scrubbing off every inch of my body with the hottest water I could stand. I rinsed off and then pulled on my sleep shirt, going to find some food. My phone was full of texts and missed calls and voice mails. Co-workers, still a lot from Milla. And one from Kellen. A text. I will be there at nine.
Part of me didn’t want to see him. I was scared of what I was going to tell him. I was tempted to text him back and tell him I wouldn’t be home, but it was almost nine anyway and he’d be on his way. I might as well talk to him now instead of putting it off.
I hesitated when he rang the doorbell. I wanted to turn and run. Actually, I wanted to go change my clothes. I put my hand on the knob and opened the door, looking at a rather blurry Kellen.
“Hey,” I mumbled.
“Can I come in?” he asked, tapping the toe of one shoe against my porch. I nodded and stepped aside, letting him brush past me. After I shut the door again we went over and sat down on my love seat in silence.
“Okay so… do you mind telling me what happened out there?” he asked, plunging into the subject immediately. “Why were you there? Wh–why did you hit me?”
I looked down, folding my hands in my lap and squeezing my eyes shut. “It was a misunderstanding.”
“A misunderstanding,” he replied flatly. “Yeah. I don’t believe you. You were so angry at me and you hit me for… for why?” He reached out and touched my arm. I jumped slightly and drew back, staring at him again. “Luna, what’s going on?”
“I–I don’t know how to explain,” I admitted. “I don’t know where to start.”
“Not to sound corny, but the best place to start is usually the beginning,” he said with a very tiny smile.
I sighed and nodded, trying to work out what to say. What should I say? Everything? “Okay,” I finally said. “I’ll tell you everything but you have to promise not to say anything until I’m done. It’s a long story and starts out like… sixty years ago.”
I heard him breath in rather sharply but then he said, “All right. I promise to listen and be quiet.”
So I started talking him. I told him that my paternal grandfather had wanted a family more than anything and after some difficulties, he turned to some local scientists named Redding. “They were researching male pregnancy,” I said carefully and I saw him open his mouth but then close it. “They told my grandfather they’d help him if he agreed, so he agreed. But–but what they had told him was a bit of a lie. Then after my grandfather became pregnant, the townspeople found out and grew very angry. They thought it was monstrous.”
I paused here, remembering the look on my father’s face. The hurt, the anger, the resentment. I continued talking, telling Kellen that the Reddings had left town after paying fines, leaving my grandfather to deal with everything on his own. “As my dad got older, my grandfather found out he had health problems since they changed his organs around. But the hospitals couldn’t help so… my grandfather was pretty much dying, with no one there to ease the pain or anything.” I twisted my hands around and looked down. “Dad says he was in pain a lot but… could get no help.”
Kellen was very quiet, keeping to his promise of not saying anything. I could tell he wanted to say something but his mouth remained closed. However at this point, he reached over and silently took my hand, squeezing gently.
“My grandfather died young,” I said. “He wasn’t even sixty. Dad was really angry and blamed the scientists. He wanted revenge. But after time, he settled into family life. He married Mom, and had my siblings and I. Then about twenty years ago he decided to find the Reddings and get his revenge.”
Kellen opened his mouth once more but then closed it, shaking his head slightly. He gave my hand another squeeze, imploring me to continue. “My dad found them, and found out that Jay Redding–the female–didn’t care about my grandfather’s early death. She could have helped him, but she didn’t. Then she made it clear she–she felt as though she were better than everyone else.”
“There’s a lot of bad blood between my family and these scientists,” I explained to him. “I grew up on horror stories about how awful the female is. I had never met them before but I knew what they looked like. And–and that’s who Dr. Dearg is.” Now Kellen’s eyes went big (at least, I was pretty sure they did; he was still pretty blurry) and he made a noise but then went quiet. “I–I think I’m done,” I said.
“Wow…” Kellen gave a low whistle. “How come they’re calling themselves the Deargs now?”
Of all the things he could have said, this certainly wasn’t expected. “I don’t know,” I answered. “You probably shouldn’t let them know you know their real name, though. I… don’t think they’d… well, I don’t think she’d be pleased to know someone else knows.”
“So when you saw me talking to her… you knew it was her and sorta…. got mad?” he asked.
“Uhhh, something like that,” I said, wincing slightly. “I thought that you had lied to me. I was shocked to see her around Riverview and I assumed the worst. I–I wondered if she knew I was there and had sent you to spy on me.” The confession sounded rather absurd and I wasn’t sure how he’d react.
“Spy…?” he whispered, pulling slightly away from me. “How could you think that?”
“I was scared, Kellen!” I exclaimed, wanting to reach over to him. “You were obviously working for her and… with how adamant you had been in gaining my friendship, I was scared that you had done it under her orders and…” I trailed off, knowing there was nothing else to say.
“I see…” He lapsed into silence and my heartbeat sounded like a drum in my ears. Finally he cleared his throat and began speaking once more. “Luna, I was adamant in being your friend because I liked you. Really, really liked you. When I saw you in the junkyard with such a blissful look on your face… I mean, you were just so happy scrounging around in old junk and collecting scraps. I fell for you. Then when you… you started quoting Shakespeare and it was like bam. I wanted–“
He stopped and then sighed. “I never lied to you. The only thing I ever did that might have been considered false, was the fact when you obviously just wanted to be friends, I settled for that. I wanted to ask you out every time we talked. I wanted to kiss you every time I saw you. I didn’t. I tried to hide my feelings. That is the only thing I’ve ever done to you that might be considered a falsehood but honestly, that’s not much of one.”
How could I have been so horrible? I wanted to ask Kellen for forgiveness but if I were in his shoes, it was something I would have a hard time forgiving. I had called him a liar. I had told him I thought his feelings for me were nothing but lies.
“Kellen…” My voice was cracking and I felt something strange bubbling up in my chest. Fear of a different kind. Fear of losing him. I wanted to grab his arms and not let go. I wanted… I wanted…
I want him, I realized, my chest swelling and my heart stopping.
“Kellen,” I tried again. “I don’t know how to… I can’t even… I’m sorry!” I gasped out. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry, I can’t even begin to make up for what I said, you must hate me now, I’m–“
He grabbed my arm and started pulling me close. My words stopped as our eyes met and I couldn’t speak anymore, I couldn’t breathe. It was if I should be dead with nothing functioning–not my lungs, not my heart… but I felt… so alive… Like I had been dead before and now…
“I could never hate you,” he whispered as he pulled me even closer. “You really hurt me but I couldn’t bear not forgiving you… that would just hurt me more…”
His body felt so warm, so inviting. I pressed my arm gently against his chest as he reached around with the arm not holding me and put his fingers under my chin. I looked up into his eyes once more and he leaned in.
“You mean it? Your apology?” he whispered, his lips so close to mine.
“More than anything else,” I replied, the words coming out breathlessly and faint.
“Hear my soul speak,” he said, his fingers gently stroking down my chin and away from my skin. “The very instant that I saw you did my heart fly to your service. There resides, to make me slave to it, and for your sake…” Now his lips were brushing against mine as he spoke the final words. “Am I this patient log-man.”
It was if something was wrong, as if my eyes exploded. I felt dizzy and exhilarated despite this but then as his lips pressed firmly against mine, I realized that my eyes hadn’t exploded. I was seeing fireworks. Everything that had happened that day melted away and I felt nothing but happiness now.