A small apartment of bedroom, kitchen and washroom was everything left from the divorce. It wasn’t big, but it would suffice. She would have loved to have some of the money Robert grabbed over the years, but the divorce had been a humbling experience and in the end she had been happy when she still had her job, despite his threats to get her fired, a small place she could actually afford with no connections left with her ex.
She I opened the door for them and pushed her little shoe collection out of his way as he hunched a bit to get through the small door. “It’s old, people were smaller then.” she mused and went ahead, getting the wet coat off and offering him to do the same while she got the bag ready. He thoughtfully tiptoed over the shoes, pulling his wings higher so he wouldn’t drag all of them with him in the kitchen. She climbed out of hers leaving them lying right in front of him while making my way in the bedroom, dragging the backpag off the hanger and with her in the bedroom.
“Make yourself at home!” She went to change, closing the door into his face backhand. She quickly started shrugging out of the clothes she’d spent her morning in. Minute later she was in her favorite jeans, which weren’t hugging her enough for long time now and were kept up with thick fabric belt, sitting a bit below her t-shirt and vest. Some things just lasted through everything. Like this little thing – camping trips, high school trips, divorce, running after Selene… No, she scolded herself, she didn’t want to think about this right now.
She heard the door creak and watched over her shoulder how his big arm pressed it open. He’d removed his jacket and was holding it in his hand now, peaking in as if to make sure she was already finished dressing.
She waved him in and went on setting up her little overnight bag from the drawers and wardrobe. He let his eyes travel over the empty walls and the loads of books she had there as well. What could she do if she loved books and couldn’t toss away anything they tossed out of the library lists that related with building houses? She had loved it – imagining building a place where a family could feel good in throughout the year. Thinking on anything from wall color to natural lightning both summers and winters, when the cool glow from snow would give the large vestibules with Christmas trees that extra magical shine. It was innocent make-belief, everything she didn’t get. But they might still have it if she’d just… If she’d just build houses. Which she didn’t.
She turned her handbag upside down on the quilt and relocated most of it into the larger bag. She stopped for a moment before reaching after her gun. He observed her checking her gun and leaving it on the bed she went to get the bullets from the little safe hidden away behind clothes. She coached the board away from the bottom of the old style wardrobe and got the safe from there. She hugged the metal box in her lap and turned around, slamming into the wood behind her. Bascun was holding her own gun at gunpoint directed straight at her forehead.
“You love your gun, but you don’t know how to properly keep it yet.” He pointed out and lowered it, going over the barrel with his hand. “Were you attacked?” He puffed up, sounding alarmed and oddly it warmed her heart to hear him worry.
“No!” She tried to ease his worry, deciding her past wasn’t worthy for digging. “Threatened.”
“It’s a false security, sweetheart.” His eyes traveled on her front door. “More locks, bars on the windows…”
She pushed up from the floor. Really rich coming from a guy who was more loaded than any local. “I know. But we both also know they don’t keep anyone with good purpose out.” He grinned, but it was worn out and made me feel surprisingly tired. “I’ll learn how to shoot properly.” She promised and Bascun handed it back to her, handle first. “Until then, let’s hope you know your business.”
His grin turned bright and blinding. “Oh, I do, baby!”
Geez! Such sweet mouth! “Where the hell did you learn to talk like that?”
He was immediately taken aback, but pulled his fists on his side instead and pushed his chest out, showing off his already impressive figure.
Suddenly it dawned on her and she waved her finger at him. “You need better books!” Anything better than those lousy romances he’d been digging his head in. She reached behind her and dug through the closest pile until she found the first volume of Outlander and pressed it to his chest.
His eyebrows climbed high, but he still took it and pulled it open on random page. “Whoah!” he read few lines then pointed it back at me. “You want me to talk like this?”
“On a second thought…” She grabbed it from him and tossed in the bed, out of his reach, took her bag and zipped it up.
“Take your coat, we’re leaving.”
“What about your coat?”
“In the car.”
He frowned for a second and she knew what was going through his mind. Why would a woman keep his winter clothes in a car she wasn’t driving to work? It would be easy to explain, or darn hard to put in words is they didn’t understood the concept of domestic violence or simply didn’t recognize it, because it was part of their life.
“I’ll explain you later.” She said, reserved. In his field of work – if she could guess right he wasn’t on desk job – he must have seen women on a run. She wasn’t up to explaining to a stranger that she wasn’t so much running anymore, but she couldn’t carelessly set aside the deep fear that maybe, just maybe she would have to do it again.
He nodded once and didn’t inquire further. Instead he pulled his jacket on, zipping it up from bottom to up under his wings, which was strange thing to watch, but to my surprise weirdly normal and for a mirroring second she let herself imagine that they were just heading for that big fair for good times.
He held out his hand towards her bag. She didn’t want to hand it over, but then he leaned in and grabbed it anyway. It wasn’t heavy, but somebody carrying her bags wasn’t normal thing to her. This time he went ahead, taking her belongings with him while she slumped on his pace behind him, locking the door, taking the last post from her mailbox – newspaper and some junk mail card. He waited her, wordlessly saying – take your time, never in heist.
The weather had taken turn to the worst and the drizzle had turned into full blown rain. Now she looked really stupid for trying to be tough, she thought, but when she started off to the parking lot, he reached his hand out and pulled her flat against him, she could hear his wing rise and settle its edge on his shoulder while it angled so it covered her like an umbrella. Where was my umbrella?
Seeing this thing up close was distractingly beautiful – it really looked alive. She reached out and touched it. It was smooth and silky and the vein her hand had been near to pulsated.
“Which one is your?” he asked, looking around between the cars.
“The blue in the back row.” She showed him the small five-seat ordinary car. At least it was in size where he could climb into and could stretch his wings a bit if he wanted to. It used to belong to a friend of hers, who had kids, but since they moved and didn’t have room for the machine, they left it with her.
She popped the drunk and got the jacket from there. It was cold against her skin, lacking the radiating warmth from the alive version still hovering over her head, but the heating in the car would warm them up soon. Given, her guest didn’t get too sick with warmth. He did say he tolerated cold differently? This was gonna be long half an hour, she decided with a sigh and watched him climb on the passenger seat, neatly packing his wings together as he possibly could. After she sat he uncoiled a bit, tossed her mobile in the slot above the glove compartment and she started the car. She turned the nose on the main street leading out of the city and gave a small prayer for good luck in her head.
She glanced at her side. He wasn’t using his mouth to say anything, but his frown was talkative enough to make her want to see his eyes hidden away behind pair of sunglasses. Not that she could read much out of them, but she wanted them out and open.
“Take off your glasses. The police is less reluctant to stop us if you’re not wearing sunglasses on a gloomy day.”
He arced his eyebrows. Even if it sounded ridiculous, he obliged. Next he took a long look at me and he fell in her own trap. She had to take extra caution not to stare at him and keep the eyes on the road. His silvery eyes shined bright as if they caught the sunlight in an odd angle.
They went about ten minutes silently when she finally turned off the highway on a long empty road. It was mostly used by trailers and trucks for easy access to the industrial part without having to enter the city. They had everything in that end of the golden line – gas station, small diner, weight station… But it meant you didn’t have to tackle with the old medieval street map waiting in the city center.
A small family car was parked up the road. Not unusual on this lonely road, but the way the man was standing in front of it made me cautious, straight in the line with his car lights, far enough to be fully lit by them and stand out in the gray world. Like praying? She frowned, slowing down. It did look like it, with his hands bent in front of him, but why would anyone do it in the pouring rain like this? They both jumped on their seats when she saw the gun go off in his hands and him falling down like a log. She let out a scream, scrambling to keep the car on the road. She slammed the breaks and pressured it down until the car came to a full stop.
“I-I’m calling the ambulance!” She quickly searched for the phone, leaning over him to get it from top of the glove department she sent it to.
“Stay in the car!” he said hoarsely, eyes wide.
“No! Wait!” She was too late to grab hold of him. Damn man! “H-hello, emergency…?” She let out the avalanche of info about where they were and what they’d just seen. The woman on the other end asked if he was alive. Of course they would ask! She scolded herself and ran out, towards the lights and Bascun close by.
“Miss?” She lowered the phone, ignoring the operator. When she realized she might have accidentally closed it, she pushed the phone in her pocket.
Bascun was standing over him and she felt painful jolt in her heart thinking he was already dead. But then the man moved his knees, trying hard to move his head, confused by the site by his side. She didn’t blame him – being collected by hell’s demon wasn’t indeed in nobody’s list of things they’d encounter after death. Yet here he was – bat wings embracing his sides, dressed to kill and not helping the man. Just standing, waiting. She couldn’t believe her eyes, but to her own horror, she realized she was frozen and no matter what, she couldn’t bring herself to go closer. She was suddenly terrified by what she was seeing.
“H-elp me!” the man begged, turning his eyes to Bascun. Now that he’d survived the suicide, it made sense he didn’t want to try again. Even if this was only for minutes.
Bascun’s hands remained locked on his pockets’ edge. The man didn’t ask a second time. Bascun stood closer, knelt on his side with one knee pressed on the man’s chest.
“I saw you do it yourself.” She watched him lean over his chest, take hold of the hand still cramped around the gun he had used and press the muzzle near the already gushing hole in his head. “Why not finish what you started? You know,” he continued while the heat on the end of the barrel was starting to fizz in his wound, “if you were really serious about doing it, you could have chosen so many other body parts to shoot that would give you an instant kill.” He pressed it harder against his forehead. “Like putting it in your mouth so the hole would send your brains flying. Or directed it to your heart. Although, I guess it would be hard to keep the barrel steady with this gun.” He forced the wrist lower so the gun was pointed underneath his jaw. “So many other options besides the corner of your head you chose!” He huffed with sinister smile. “That makes me think you wanted to be found! You wanted to make whoever was driving by remember you for the rest of their lives, didn’t you? You miserable rat!” He pressed the muzzle harder against his jaw. “Couldn’t get anybody to care, so you chose to ruin my life with your despicable little show!”
The man’s eyes filled with tears. “Please, don’t shoot me!”
“I’m not shooting you, you yourself pulled the gun! I’m just helping you finish what you started!”
Veronica opened her mouth to shout him to stop, but she couldn’t get anything out. She could see from here that he couldn’t move his other hand. What a faith to live in now. Bascun let go of his hand and stood.
“We already called the ambulance. You’ll survive. Don’t ever try something so stupid again.” He turned around and froze, seeing her stand right behind him, shivering with shock. Without explaining it further he started walking, grabbed her by the arm when he past her and dragged her back to the car, pressed her on the driver’s seat and told her to go. They took off just as the lights of the ambulance began blinking on the other end of the turn. He avoided looking at her for a while, eyes turned on the forest line flying past his eyes. Although she couldn’t approve what he just did, she knew he might have helped the guy more with his demonic interference than the psychiatrists for the rest of his life. Plus even if the police did happen to call me back for questioning, she could simply say he was delirious. That there was no demon or angel or anybody besides her. Who would believe him? Who would believe me if I told the truth…
“I still need you to sign the contract.” he said grimly.
She did as he asked and they stopped by a small grove on half way there. Only little bit further and they’d hit the little road taking them off the big road. He loosened the zipper on his chest enough to go through his inner pockets, bringing out a letter size piece of paper. It looked very regal compared with the world outside, literally as if she was looking at the fairy tale contract instead of a real one.
“Do you have a pen?”
“Somewhere in the glove apartment.” She received the paper and unwrapped it, trying to read it while he dug for the pen, but it was definitely not in any languages she could recognize. “What language is this?”
“Ours.” He sounded cautious, he began to fathom that unless she could read it, she wouldn’t sign it. He was right.
Then again, signing anything with him would be a bad idea. Or, maybe, a good idea? She couldn’t make up her mind if she should be dead scared and run or give in and swoon to his side for he sure as hell made her inside swim with happiness that she had him on her side and not on the other side.
He pulled in a breath and began. “It’s a paper that says that you get me in your service for as long as you need. It also states that only you have the right to command me and thus no other breathing, clawing creature can order me to turn my weapons against you.”
She eyed the paper for a bit, then turned her gaze up and studied his eyes for a long moment. “You’re not doing it because you’re in search of a new master.” She declared, keeping her look keenly on him to see his face while he answered to that.
He chewed on his lower lip, the sort of look in his eyes that stated clearly he was getting tired of this, but she didn’t care. This wasn’t any simple deal he was trying to press on her. And she wasn’t the sort of girl to hop on the first galloping horse. Something he did before we met made him damn worried that he could be used against me.
No shrug, clouded stare and blank face. Bingo! He looked away and she felt surge of anger warm her insides. “Yes,” she coached in her head, “tell me how you are serving two masters, you big oaf!”
“If you’re already signed to somebody else, then…” I began teasingly.
“Sign it!” He spat. “It’s not him I’m worried about, alright?”
She had a feeling he was leaving most of the story out, but something in his voice made me take the pen from his pointing hand and sign the line he showed me. Then he grabbed her hand, locked it between his fist, produced a knife out of his pocket, ticked her thumb and pressed few drops of blood out of it and on the paper.
“That looked a lot like a contract with devil.” She snapped her hand away while he folded it up and put it back in his chest pocket while she was busy smooching her hurt finger.
“Blood is unique, thus the contract is unique.” he said, sulking and packed himself up on the seat again. “Drive.”
She frowned for a good long moment, but realized then it was pointless and started the car.