At eight o'clock, the doorbell rang and I knew it was Duncan. Rachel told me to answer it and she and Mom were watching Wheel of Fortune on TV when I let Duncan in.
Mom turned the TV off and stood up and introduced herself then Rachel introduced herself as well.
“Duncan, where are you from? Were you born around here?” I figured Rachel would be the first to be nosy, so that didn't surprise me one bit.
“No, actually, I moved here a few years ago, after my family was killed.”
“Your family was killed? I'm so sorry to hear that.” Rachel moved closer to Duncan on the sofa, acting like she couldn't get close enough to him. For a minute I thought she might attempt to sit on his lap or something. Duncan didn't notice, or if he did, he didn't seem to mind. He simply smiled and thanked Rachel for being so kind.
“How did your family die? Are all of them gone?”
“Well it was more like a hereditary disease. Yes, all of my immediate family are gone.”
“Was it a fire or something? A car accident?”
“More like a tragic disease, a mutant gene. It tends to wreak havoc on my family sometimes. I guess you would say it's something in the blood.”
I looked up. I didn't like hearing that some disease might kill Duncan too. I wasn't in love with him, but for some reason, I felt sad to think he might not be around one day. He noticed me look up at his last remark.
“Well, I have been tested, many times and so far so good. If I keep one step ahead of this scourge, I have no doubt I can maybe beat it one day. The testing can get complicated, each time it occurs, but I find it can be a challenge. If I live right I can conquer it.”
He looked straight at me now. “So I need not worry if I continue to pass the tests. I plan to be around for a long time. If the fates allow.” Was he smiling right at me now? It seemed so.
“That's good to know you keep passing the tests then. I hope you are around a very long time. My sister seems to have grown fond of you.” Rachel smiled at him like she had grown fond of him, more so than me, in just one meeting. I tried to ignore it, but there it was. I had never seen her act so Mooney over anyone, especially some guy. I hardly knew what to make of it. Mom also seemed enthralled with Duncan as well. I guess I should have been glad, this meant they would not be making a stink over my seeing him. But as glad as it made me, it also made me feel uneasy in some weird sort of way. But that's the kind of appeal Duncan seems to have on people, especially women.
I was growing tired of this conversation so I looked at Duncan. “Aren't we supposed to go see that hockey game you've been looking forward to all week?”
At first he looked surprised at what I just said, but he caught on quickly.
“Yes, we do have tickets and all, I'd hate to lose the money spent. I guess we should be going.”
We both stood up and Rachel held out her hand. “Very nice meeting you, Duncan. Thank you for coming over.”
Shaking her hand he smiled: “Thank you for inviting me. Cheryl has a lovely family.” When he touched Rachel's hand, they both flinched a bit, like some kind of electrical spark had been generated, but just for a second then it left. Like a flash in the pan.
We said our good nights and went to the hearse. “So, I think that went rather well, don't you think?” He was smiling at me and fiddling with the CD player, turning on some soft music in the background.
“I guess, if you say so.”
“Why? You didn't think so? Your sister and mother seemed to like me.”
“Yes, that's the problem. They seemed to like you too well. It was sort of creepy and embarrassing at the same time. Hell, Rachel doesn't even like guys. She hates men, really.”
“No, she doesn't hate men. She likes men just fine. She's just given up on them for now anyway. She doesn't trust them.”
“How in hell do you know? You just met her. I live with her. She constantly harps at me how men are out for only one thing. She never dates and she tries to squelch any fun I want to have.”
“She is probably just trying to keep you safe. From what I noticed last night, on that dark road, you just might need looking after. You shouldn't allow Karla to talk you into things you really don't want to do, like wild parties and dressing you up like a hooker.”
“Hey, who's side are you on anyway?”
“I didn't know I was choosing sides. But if I must, then I'm on your side. I'm fond of you too, in case you hadn't noticed and I want you to stay safe. It's a big rough world out there sometimes and you need to be aware of it.”
“Well anyway, how do you know Rachel doesn't hate guys and I didn't know that? You got some psychic powers or voodoo or something I should know about?”
“Well don't get freaked about it, but yes, I do have an ability. I don't think I'd call it voodoo or anything, but an ability.”
“Shit, now you really are creeping me out. So tell me more, did you sense anything else about Rachel. While we're on the subject.”
“For one thing, nice young ladies shouldn't swear so much. For another thing, you're sister has always liked men. In fact, now really don't freak out here, she had an abortion two years ago, so I'd say she liked a man that well anyway.”
I was stunned, I was also kind of pissed. How did he know that? Was he making that up? “How in hell do you know if she had an abortion and why in hell don't I know this?”
He looked at me through narrow eyes. “When I shook hands with your sister, I got flashes of her life. I get those when I touch people, most of the time anyway. That's how I know. It's a gift and a curse all at the same time.”
“Hell you say. Do you know all about me then, since we've hugged and all. You know everything about my past now?”
“Well, frankly, no, not so much with you. I've never run across anyone that it didn't always work on, that is, until I met you. I can't get a reading on you like I can others.”
Now this whole thing was really getting creepy. “You're telling me you shook her hand and got all that?” Creepy as it was, I did remember both he and Rachel reeling back for a moment, like a charge passed between the. I knew he was right, something had passed between them. But Rachel, having an abortion? I figured she hated men.
“She probably didn't want you to know. Maybe she felt you were too young, maybe she was ashamed, or maybe she didn't want to tarnish her big sister image you have of her. Whatever the reasons, I'm sure she was hurting emotionally, going through that all alone. So try to not be so hard on her, she means well. She loves you very much you know.”
I thought of all the times I snapped at her and suddenly felt ashamed. Should I tell her I know, maybe make her feel less alone? But if I did, how would I explain how I knew? Duncan had put me on the spot, in an awkward position with this bomb. I hated it.
“How do you have this ability? You some kind of Martian?” I looked right at him now. I almost hated him for knowing something so personal about Rachel. Hated the fact that he knew, but me, her flesh and blood sister, didn't know.
“I assure you I'm no Martian. This is an ability that has been handed down through generations in my family. My bloodline, so to speak.”
“So, Mr. Smarty Pants, you know what those guys last night intended to do then?” I asked in a kind of accusing voice, but I did want to know.
“Frankly, yes I do know. But I'm not sure you really want to know.”
“Yes, I do really want to know. You don't think I can handle it?”
“Okay then, if you can handle it, here it is. They had every intention of raping you both, and killing you. That's why you need to be much more wary and careful than you usually are.”
“Maybe you're just trying to scare me?”
“Look, Cheryl, I'm trying to keep you safe. It would almost kill me if anything ever happened to you. I'm quite fond of you.”
As creepy as all of this new information was, it strangely made me feel safe when I was with Duncan. I also felt like I was quite fond of him too. Could I be falling in love with him? It sure felt like I might be.
Duncan pulled into the park by the lake. There was a bright, full moon and it shone on the water, making it sparkle. The stars were out in full force and it was beautiful. He turned the hearse off and turned to me, scooping me up in his arms. “I really, really do like you, very much. I just want you to know that.”
He leaned down and kissed me, a kiss like I'd never felt in my life. The kiss made me feel weak and I was glad we were sitting down because my legs felt like jelly. I responded in kind, kissing him with a passion I never knew I possessed. It was wonderful and exciting and scary all at the same time. When people talk about sky rockets and fireworks, I never believed them before, but I did now because that's exactly how it felt, kissing him like this.
I found myself wanting more than kisses and I started to unbutton his shirt. He suddenly let up his embrace and sat back, looking at me.
“What's wrong? Don't you feel it too?” Suddenly I worried maybe he didn't feel like I did and I felt embarrassed at being so bold.
“No, that's not it. I do feel the same way, but.” His voice trailed off.
“But what then?”
“Cheryl, have you ever been with a guy before? I mean, have you ever made love to a guy?”
Now I really felt embarrassed. I thought about lying, but figured he'd see right through that too. “No, but I do want to make love with you. Don't you want me too?” I was almost afraid of the answer.
“I do, but with you, I want it to be special. To have some meaning, especially for you, your first time. It has to be right and I think you should get to know me better. Know more about me, then make your decision. I don't want you to regret it later is all.”
Duncan, dear, sweet, Duncan. I think at this moment I really knew I was falling in love with him. Looking out for me was becoming a way of life now for me. I was beginning to like it, a lot.
“Okay, I'll wait then, but it won't be easy. I'll wait until I get to know you better then. But I'm sure I'll still feel the same way.”
“There's so much about me you just don't know yet. I hope you mean that and will still feel the same way once you know me better. No one is perfect you know, not even me.”
“I think it's time I took you home now. It's been a big day and we'll see each other tomorrow. I'll call you.”
I really didn't want to go home, to leave him. I'd have been thoroughly content to have spent the entire night here, in the moon light and in his arms. But I reluctantly agreed to let him take me home.
We pulled up in front of my house and he reached over and kissed me again. Not the long, passionate kiss like by the lake, just a quick peck on the cheek, but it still was electric.
“I'll call you tomorrow and we'll do something together. Good night Cheryl. Sleep tight.”
I waved as he pulled away from the curb and went inside. The house was dark so everyone must have already been in bed. I decided I was thirsty and grabbed a juice from the fridge. I sat down at the table and noticed the newspaper. The headlines read: Another ex con on parole, has come up missing. Bubba Hicks's car was found along side the road, but no body has been found. Bubba's sister reported him missing when he failed to return home last night. She thinks he might have been in the company of another parolee, Clement Baxter, but that has not been verified as Clement has no relatives in the area. Police are beginning to wonder if someone is taking out parolees in the area since several have come up missing in the past few months. Police say they are looking into it and have considered bringing in an outside detective, an expert in this sort of thing, but that also has not been confirmed. Police would like anyone who might know anything about this, to call them.
The new report placed this Bubba guy in the same area where Karla and I were attacked. In fact, they found his car on the exact same road we were on. I wondered if Duncan had anything to do with Bubba's disappearing. But Duncan had said those guys took off, not wanting to tangle with him anymore. But still, I couldn't help but wonder if he was telling me the truth. I refused to think of dear, sweet, Duncan, my Duncan, as possibly having anything to do with that guy's disappearance. Even if those guys were ex cons and probably scum who wanted to kill Karla and I. Duncan had saved our lives.
I put it out of my mind, at least for now. I was tired and needed sleep. Once I laid down I had dreams, dreams of making love to Duncan and they felt so very real. I dreamed I was in his mansion on the hill, in a big bed with red velvet blankets and red satin sheets feeling cool against my bare skin.