After forever, p.7
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       After Forever, p.7

           Krystal George
 
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Day and Night

  By: Kim Stevens

  ©2013 by Kim Stevens

  Leaning back on my hands, I close my eyes, and enjoy the sun warming my bare skin. I was stretched out on a beach towel, in the backyard, dressed in a pale blue bikini top and cut-off denim shorts.

  It was the weekend so I was spending every minute working on my tan. My iPod was beside me blasting ‘All Around Me’ by Flyleaf in my ears and a faint breeze made my long, unusually-colored hair dance around my shoulders. Since childhood, people had always commented on my hair color; even I thought it was an odd shade. My hair is waist-length and three hues of blond with a splash of primrose and a pinch of saffron.

  Tilting my head back further I felt the sun’s rays kissing my already freckled skin. I filled my lungs with the scents of mown grass and crisp air when all of a sudden the sun disappeared and a shadow lurked over me.

  “Hey!” I opened my eyes to see a strong jaw line, deep red lips, and dark teardrop eyes. His hair was chocolate brown and fell over his brow, cascading over his ears in adorable flicks and waves. It looked thick and brushed the collar of his leather trench coat. “Get out of my sun!” I sat up, glaring.

  “Hi, my name’s Orlie,” the boy said, a bright grin spreading across his face like wildfire. The sun illuminated his tall, lanky frame and it looked like he was glowing. “You’re Calista, right?” I blinked a few times, opening and closing my mouth like a fish. All words escaped me. “Are you alright?” his grin twitched before falling from his crimson lips.

  I swallowed. “I-I’m Cali,” I stammered. My cheeks were burning and it wasn’t from the sun. I closed my eyes and took a shaky breath. “Orlie?” I met his dark gaze. Orlie knelt down beside me, his boots touching the edge of the beach towel. I noticed that his eyes were black-blue, reminding me of the midnight sky.

  “My mother had a thing for Orlando Bloom.” He rolled his eyes while resting his arms on his knees. The grin returned while his hand reached out towards me; thin long fingers picked up a piece of my wavy hair. “What an unusual color,” he mused.

  I batted his hand away then leaned back on my arms, the sun bathing me in its warmth once again. Orlie brushed a hand through his chocolate locks and I saw a flash of silver before the hair settled on his brow again.

  “Why are you here in my yard?” I squinted up at him.

  “I moved in next door. I saw you out here and I thought I’d come and say hi,” he said, sitting on the grass. He stretched out his long legs, crossing his ankles.

  “Where are you from?” I lied on my back while Orlie picked at blades of grass.

  “We’re from out of town.” He glanced at me and I saw silver specks peeking from under his dark hair. “I didn’t mean to offend you before when I made the comment about your hair.” his eyes flicked to my loose hair. “I’ve never see hair the color of the sun.”

  I abruptly sat up before climbing to my feet. “Did I say something wrong?” Orlie asked, frowning, and watching as I shook grass off the towel.

  “I-I have to go,” I said, turning and making my escape into my mum’s house.

  Slamming the door behind me, I peeked through the window, expecting to see Orlie still sitting in the yard. Instead, there was no sign of him and where he had been sprawled out; a silver glow was now glittering brighter than the sun.

  As the sun melted into the horizon, I hugged my knees, sitting on the window seat, and keeping my gaze on the two-story brick house sitting on the other side of the chain-link fence. Curtains covered all of the windows except for the window opposite mine which was uncovered, and dimly lit.

  From where I sat I could see a queen-bed with a dark comforter, a massive dark wood cupboard, and a desk. A closed door across the room, I guessed, led to a bathroom and the door leading into the bedroom was out of sight.

  I was replaying my encounter with Orlie, my chin resting on my knees, when I was snapped out of the memory by the creaking of my bedroom door opening. When I turned my head I saw mum’s head poke around the door.

  “There you are!” she said coming into the room. “How was your day?” Mum was still dressed in her waitress uniform as she perched on the bed, crossing her legs. Her dark-blond hair was free from its ponytail and she was yawning.

  “It was okay.” I turned my back on the neighboring house. “I worked on my tan…” I rubbed a hand over my brown arm then turned it over exposing the lily-white underside of my forearm. I frowned at the birthmark that looked like it was glowing on my wrist.

  “I see the new neighbors have moved in,” mum was saying while running her fingers though her hair.

  “Really? I didn’t notice.” I rubbed a finger over my birthmark which always felt cooler than my actual body temperature. The birthmark was a jagged circle and in the middle was the shape of the crescent moon. The colors ranged from rosy red, pale orange, and a silvery-blue.

  “Earth to Cali,” mum said, poking my arm. “Hey! Calista!”

  “Sorry, what?” my cheeks grew warm while mum grinned.

  “What were you thinking about just then?” she asked, leaning her elbows on her knees. “Spill girlie!”

  I rolled my eyes making her giggle. “I was thinking of…” before I could finish my sentence I was silenced by an intense gaze boring into my back. Slowly turning, I looked over at the neighboring house, into the room opposite mine, which was now in complete darkness.

  “Cali?” Mum asked. When I didn’t answer she stood, sitting beside me. “Are you okay, darl?”

  I forced myself to look away from the window. “Yeah, I’m okay,” I mumble, keeping my eyes on my hands.

  “Are you sure?” she played a hand on my forearm. “You aren’t getting sick, are you?”

  “No, Mum, I’m fine.” I plastered a smile on my face as the intense staring grew stronger. Even though I couldn’t see anyone in the room I knew it wasn’t empty.

  When mum finally left to prepare dinner (her language for picking up the phone and ordering take-out) I swiveled around and gazed at the dark room in the neighboring house. The curtains slowly danced in the warm summer breeze as the full moon appeared in the dark sky, bathing everything in a silvery glow.

  I was rubbing my hands up and down my bare legs when I saw a movement in the dark room. A figure emerged out of the blackness, standing in the window, and being illuminated by the moon…no, it was his own silvery glow.

  “Orlie…” I breathed, focusing on the figure. I edged closer to the window causing me to lose my balance. I gave a small yelp, trying to grab onto something, but my hands flailed in the air. I was toppling out of my two-story bedroom window when strong hands suddenly gripped my arm.

  I gasped in shock as I was gently pulled back into the room. I ran a shaky hand over my hair while my breathing and speeding heartbeat returned to normal. When I remembered to check who my savior was I looked into my room and saw that I was alone. Spinning around, I saw the figure still standing in the window, watching me.

  “You saved me,” I said in a whisper.

  “I couldn’t let you fall.” His voice was velvety soft. “May I come over?” he stepped closer to the window; his face hidden in the shadows.

  “Ah…sure, why not?” I went to stand up, but stopped when his gentle voice suddenly sounded near my ear. “You look fair against the moon’s glow.” I gasped, pirouetting on my butt. There he stood, a tall, dark, and mysterious Orlie. “H-How did you do that?” I stammered.

  Orlie grinned while my bedroom light shone on his trench coat. His dark teardrop eyes watched me and his hair looked like melted chocolate. Without a sound he sat in front of me on the window seat.

  “Would you believe…magic?” he leaned into me, his thin fingers resting on my legs; his breath cool on my skin.

  I went to make a smart-ass remark but all I said was, “Yes.”

  Orlie’s grin widened as he reached out, touching a piece of hair resting on my shoulder. “Can I ask you something?” his black-blue eyes met my gaze.
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  “Okay,” I said eager to get closer to him.

  “Why did you leave when I mentioned the sun?”

  I tried to look away, but he kept a hold on me. “I-I’m a Daybreaker,” I answered. I braced myself for Orlie’s questions, but all he did was twirl my hair around his finger.

  “You’re a daughter of the sun?” he said. His dark eyes stayed on my unusual hair.

  “How did you know?” I asked slowly.

  His free fingers found my arm and gently turned it over. His eyes moved from my hair wrapped around his finger to the birthmark on my left wrist. “You and I are soulmates.” His fingers gently caressed my marked skin. “I also have a birthmark.”

  I watched, curiously, as he pushed up the sleeve of his coat to reveal a birthmark in the same place as mine. I leaned forward for a closer look. It was a perfectly round circle the color of pale silvery-blue, and in the middle was a smaller version of my jagged circle, the color of pastel pink and orange. Without thinking I slid my fingers onto his skin and felt the warmth coming from the birthmark.

  “You’re the son of the moon…a Nightfaller.” I looked up so he nodded. “You were out in the sunlight,” I said, dumbfounded.

  Orlie chuckled. “That is just a myth about our kind. It was created in the early twelfth century to scare children at night. The truth is Nightfallers can walk the day just like Daybreakers can walk the night,” he told me. “What else do you know?”

  “Not much,” I admitted. “My mum isn’t one of us, but my dad was.”

  “Was?” Orlie asked, keeping his fingers on my arm.

  “He died when I was little. Mum doesn’t talk about him much, but she said he had the same birthmark as me.”

  “I’m sorry.”

  I shrugged. “What about your family?” I cast a glance towards the dark room on the other side of the fence. When my question went unanswered I look around to see that I’m suddenly alone. I go to turn back to Orlie’s room, but my door opened and mum came in.

  “Hey, diner’s ready,” she said.

  “Okay. I’ll be done in a sec.” I wait until the door closes before looking back at the blackened window. A tall, lanky figure is standing at the curtains, his face in the shadows.

  “Can I see you later?” I ask in a quiet voice.

  “I would like that,” Orlie replied, disappearing into the blackness.

  Entering the kitchen I smelt Chinese food. “You’ve been busy,” I said, spying our local Chinese restaurant containers in the trash. “You’ll have to give me the recipes.” I slid onto a stool and grabbed the bowl of fried rice.

  “I can do you one better,” mum said, spearing a piece of sweet and sour pork with her fork, “I can give you the number.” She popped the food into her mouth then smiled.

  “Very funny,” I said, grinning.

  I was loading my fork with beef in black bean sauce when mum cleared her throat. “Hey, I thought I’d go and introduce myself to the new neighbors tomorrow. Wanna come?” she asked out of the blue. I had been chewing on a piece of beef which I nearly choked on. I grabbed my glass of lemonade and took several gulps while coughing. “Are you okay? Cali?” mum went to stand up, but I shook my head.

  After another mouthful of soft drink I was able to talk. “I’m okay. Are you sure you want to do that?” I wiped tears from my eyes.

  “Why not? When we moved here, Mrs. Noble came over with a chocolate cake.”

  “Yeah, because she was a busybody,” I mumbled.

  “Calista!” mum said, holding back a smile.

  “What if they like their privacy?” I asked, helping myself to more fried rice.

  “It’s only an introduction. I don’t want to be their best friend,” mum said, spooning pork onto her plate. “Will you come?”

  I finished my mouthful. “Yeah, I’ll come.” I was interested in meeting Orlie’s family.

  I was in my bedroom after having a shower, brushing my hair, when his cool breath drifted over my bare skin. “You smell like…” he breathed in deeply, “lavender…and sunshine.” his fingers slid onto my shoulder and ran across the thin strap of my singlet.

  “Sunshine…original,” I said. I went to turn around, but Orlie stopped me. His free hand snaked around my waist, halting on my stomach. His other hand stayed on my shoulder. I leaned back against him and closed my eyes. Being this close to him felt more than right; it felt natural.

  “I missed you,” his low, silky voice said in my ear. “I had to hold myself back while you were eating Chinese food.”

  My eyes flew open and I turned around in his arms, remembering that I had choked on a piece of beef. Orlie’s arms were still holding me to his body.

  “How did you know that?” I asked, making him grin.

  “I’m embarrassed to say…” he moved his eyes to look over my head. “You have a clear view into my room.” he sounded amused.

  “It’s the same view you have,” I retorted, encircling him in my arms. His leather trench coat denied me access to his body. “How did you know what I had for dinner?” I looked up meeting his gaze.

  A grin spread across his face like wildfire. “I peeked in through the kitchen window. You look like your mother.” He played with a piece of my loose hair.

  “Mum thinks I have my dad’s eyes.” I slid my hands up his chest which felt like cool, chiseled marble. Orlie’s midnight-sky eyes locked onto mine as his hands enveloped my fingers.

  “They’re the color of a fine summer’s day,” he whispered, his mouth just inches from mine. I went to close the short gap, but he pulled away, a heavy sigh escaping his lips. “Cali…”

  I stepped back, removing my hands from his. “You have a girlfriend, don’t you?” I sulked over to the window seat and sat down. I went to bring my legs up, but Orlie appeared in front of me, claiming my hands again.

  “Cali, look at me,” he said gently. I shook my head, keeping my eyes on the dark room across the fence. “Calista, please.” When I looked at him with watery eyes Orlie winced.

  He went to touch my cheek, but his hand fell back to his thigh. His other hand was softly caressing my fingers. “You said you don’t know much about us? Daybreakers and Nightfallers?” I nodded. “I can tell you what I know, if you’d like?”

  “Yes,” I said excited. Orlie’s mouth twitched into an almost invisible smile. He stood, shrugging off his coat, and I was infatuated with what was hidden underneath: a tight black t-shirt, a brass belt buckle in the shape of a crescent moon, loose fitting denim jeans, and black boots. I took every inch of him in as he threw his coat on my bed. When he sat back down in front of me, my eyes travelled back to his handsome face.

  “Before you start…is there a girlfriend?”

  “No,” Orlie said. “No girlfriend. I have a soulmate.”

  “Oh, that’s so much better,” I spat out, throwing my arms in the air. I angrily stood up, getting ready to tell him to evict my room and life, but stopped when he appeared in front of me. I crossed my arms over my chest and glared at my bare feet.

  “Calista let me explain.” He touched my arm then sighed heavily when I didn’t move. “Please, sit down.” I stomped over to the window seat and sat, cross-legged, leaning my back against the wall. I relaxed my arms, letting my hands fall to my lap. Orlie sat in front of me with his long legs stretched out and his ankles crossed.

  “My soulmate is you,” he told me, keeping his eyes on his folded hands. “It’s always been you.”

  I snuck a glance at him and saw that he was intently staring at his hands. When the silence dragged on for another minute, I leaned forward with my elbows on my knees. “Soulmates?”

  Orlie smiled and met my eyes. “Yes.”

  I frown. “I wanted to kiss you…but you moved away.” I felt my eyebrows scrunch together. “Did I have bad breath?” my question makes him chuckle.

  “Your breath is fine.” he turned serious. “Our relationship isn’t a normal one,” he said, watching every inch of my fa
ce. “Daybreakers and Nightfallers can’t be together whenever we want. We can’t act on our impulses.” Orlie holds my hands while I process his words.

  “We can’t be…” I say slowly. “We can’t kiss?” Orlie nodded. “Oh…we can’t…” my eyes grow wide and I glance at my bed. “We can’t…”

  “No.” Orlie’s voice is sad. When I turn my eyes to him I see that he’s heartbroken. I reach my hand out, placing it on his cheek and smile when he moves his face into my palm, kissing it.

  “We can touch…at least we have that,” I say in a soft voice. “Tell me more about us.”

  A smile appears on his crimson lips, but it’s unhappy. Orlie stands then pulled me to my feet. I was about to ask him what was wrong, but he flicked the light off before taking my spot on the window seat. He gently pulled me to him, guiding me to sit between his bent legs. I leaned back against his chest while my hands rest on his thighs. I feel him breathing while his chin nestles into the hollow of my neck.

  “What would you like to know?” he asked, his cool breath blowing my hair.

  “Everything!” The moon shone outside the window as a warm breeze ran over us. Orlie’s long fingers gently ran up and down my arms.

  “Have you ever heard of the saying, ‘Once in a blue moon’?” I nodded. “It’s a mortal saying, but a blue moon is when a son of the moon is born. When a daughter of the sun is born the sun glows a brilliant red.”

  “I thought that happened when there’s a huge bushfire,” I said, turning my head and looking up at Orlie. Knowing he was my soulmate made an electrifying tingle rush through my whole body. I couldn’t help but smile.

  “No, the sun turns red to welcome the daughter.”

  “That sounds beautiful.” Orlie’s hands slid down my arms, stopping at my hands, and lacing our fingers together. “I thought you said we couldn’t…you know.” My eyes flick to my bed while I frown.

  “That’s true…most of the time.” I heard him sniff my hair.

  “Most of the time?” I asked a little hopeful.

  Orlie kissed my earlobe then gently kissed my jaw and neck. “A man and woman fell in love many, many years ago. Sadly they were torn apart and forced to live an eternity separated.” As Orlie spoke, he twirled my hair around his fingers. “The man was condemned to the moon and the woman to the sun. Once every hundred years, they are able to get together to make love…that’s why a blue moon and red sun are so rare in a mortal’s lifetime.”

  “So, they only see each other once in a century?” I sigh heavily. “That’s so sad.”

  “It is a sad story,” Orlie agreed. “They are soulmates cursed to be apart.”

  “Kind of like us,” I said in a whisper.

  Orlie wrapped his arms around me and buried his face in my hair. “Daybreakers and Nightfallers can be together once every hundred years,” he whispered into my neck.

  “When is that coming up?” I felt him smile.

  “We were created in the last century. You’ll know when it’s time when you feel it in here.” His finger glided over my heart. “Did you know, when it rains during the day it’s the woman in the sun crying for the man in the moon, and vice versa.”

  “That’s romantic,” I said, rubbing my hands up and down his legs. “I have something to tell you.” I felt Orlie remove his face from my hair. His chin rested on my shoulder. “My mum…she wants us to introduce ourselves to your family.” I kept my eyes focused on the wall in front of me. “She wants to be neighborly.”

  “What do you think of that?” Orlie asked, curious.

  I shrugged. “I think she’d have questions about you being in my room.” Orlie chuckled softly. “She’s not a nosey person so she won’t be asking prying questions.” I twisted around to look at him. “If it’s not okay with coming over I can…”

  Orlie put a finger to my mouth. “I think it’s a great idea,” he said. “My mother would enjoy the company.”

  “What about me?” I mumbled against his finger.

  A wildfire grin broke across his face. “She will adore you.” He wrapped his arms around me, nestling his chin in the hollow of my shoulder. We sat on the window seat in the comfortable silence of the night, enjoying each other’s company.

  The early morning sun rose in the sky filling my room with a soft glow, the birds twittered blissfully in nearby trees, and I grumbled unhappily while pulling the sheet over my head.

  I had had a sleepless night dreaming of one person: Orlie. Every time I had closed my eyes I pictured his handsome face while he spoke silent words and his hands explored all over my body. My imagination ran away from me and when I woke I was panting, sweaty, and wanting more.

  I dragged myself out of bed at seven am and tried not to look out the window. It didn’t work. My eyes gravitated to the house next door and my shoulders slumped when I saw that the curtains were pulled tightly closed.

  I moved around my room like a zombie then found myself standing under lukewarm water, yawning, and trying not to get shampoo in my eyes. As I rinsed, I replayed what Orlie had told me last night: I was born during a red sun since I was a Daybreaker, I was a descendant of a woman who was trapped in the sun and Orlie was a descendant of a man locked in the moon, and we could only consummate our relationship every hundred years. This was…crazy!

  I pulled on knee-length black shorts and a black singlet which clung nicely to my body. I brushed my sun-colored hair, letting it hang down my back to dry, and then cleaned my teeth, gargling with mouthwash.

  “Morning, darl,” mum said as I entered the kitchen. “Oh, you look like crap.” She sipped her orange juice while her eyes took me in.

  “I didn’t sleep very well.” I slumped on a stool and folded my arms on the island bench.

  “Do you want some brekkie?” she pushed a plate towards me with two pieces of toast on it. There was a tub of margarine, a jar of raspberry jam, and half a jar of Vegemite.

  “I’m not really hungry,” I said picking up the top piece and pulling it to bits with my fingers. “When are we going over to annoy the neighbors?”

  Mum smiled. “After breakfast. You’re just as curious about them as I am.” She finished her drink then stood up, putting the glass in the sink. “I’m going to have a shower. Try and eat something, Cali.” Mum came over to me, kissed my cheek, and disappeared upstairs.

  I watched as the piece of toast became crumbs then sighed, leaning my arms on the counter top. As the birds chirped out the kitchen window I stood and threw the bits of bread into the rubbish. I put everything away before standing at the sink and watching as a magpie pulled an earth worm out of the grass.

  “Are you ready, darl?” mum asked coming into the kitchen and pulling on a brown t-shirt over jeans.

  “Yeah,” I turn to face her, “Don’t you have a shift today?”

  “Nope, I asked Deb to take my hours and I’ll take her shift tomorrow.” She dabbed on some lip balm, smacking her lips together. “The restaurant can survive without me.” Mum smiled. “Come on, let’s go meet the neighbors.”

  I stepped out into the sun and saw neighborhood kids riding bikes on the footpath while teenagers did tricks on skateboards. The door slammed shut as I walked down the path towards the road. Mum came up to me as I ambled towards the front yard of the house next door.

  The chain-link fence was partly hidden by a neat boxwood hedge that ran the length of the yard. A dirt driveway sat on the right side of the two-story house and a cobblestone path led to a small landing with a dark wood front door holding two leadlight panels.

  “The gardens are immaculate,” mum whispered, standing in the middle of the path and gripping my arm for dear life. “Look at those roses…they have flowers as big as saucers on them.”

  “Maybe you could get some tips on gardening,” I teased, pulling her towards the house. “Come on, mum!” Stepping onto the landing I reached my hand out and knocked on the door.

  “This garden puts everyone else’s to shame,” mum said i
n a low voice.

  Mum was taking in a jasmine vine hanging from a trellis and fully in bloom when the door suddenly opened. “Hello? Can I help you?” a slender woman stood in the doorway, a bright pink apron covering jeans and a blue-and-white shirt.

  “Hi!” I nudged mum’s side making her face the woman. “We’re your neighbors,” I pointed to our house, “and we came to introduce ourselves.”

  The woman’s face lit up into a bright grin. It was identical to her son’s smile. “Oh, hi, I’m Faith. Please, come in.” she moved to the side allowing us to enter the house.

  “I’m Anna and this is my daughter, Cali,” mum said, taking in an antique table and leadlight lamps in the foyer. A painting of a person screaming was hanging on the wall. “You have beautiful furniture. Is this a Munch painting?”

  “Yes, it is. I would love to show you around. My husband, Benedict, is around here somewhere.” Faith started to head down a short hall so we followed.

  At the end of the hall was a sprawling state-of-the-art kitchen, the benches were rosewood, the floor was polished wood, and the appliances were stainless steel. A six-seater dining table stood pride of place under a large crystal chandelier and floor-to-ceiling windows showed the immaculate back gardens.

  “Would you like coffee or tea?” Faith asked, removing bright pink oven mitts from a hook. She bent down, pulling out two trays of choc chip cookies.

  “Tea, please,” mum replied as Faith spread out the mouth-watering cookies on a cooling tray before removing her mitts.

  “I have Earl Grey, Italian Almond or Jasmine Green Tea.”

  “Whatever you’re having is fine.” Faith nodded once then moved her gaze to me. “Would you like a soft drink, Cali? I have Coke, Fanta or Creaming Soda.” As she spoke, Faith was removing two floral china teacups from a cupboard and placing them on matching saucers.

  “Oh, I’m fine. Thank you,” I replied.

  I watched as several tea bags were stuffed into a china teapot then boiling water was added. Mum was talking to Faith about the humungous flowers in the front yard when I felt someone enter the kitchen.

  “I didn’t know we had guests,” a deep voice said from behind me.

  When I turned around I felt my stomach clench from the sight of the man standing, formally, a few feet from me. He was dressed in black pants, black button-up shirt, and polished loafers. His arms were behind his back and his teardrop eyes watched me intently. His hair was neatly slicked back and was the color of silver. I knew I had seen him before, but I couldn’t put my finger on where or when.

  “Anna, Cali…this is my husband, Benedict,” Faith said. “Darling, these are our neighbors.”

  “It is a pleasure to meet you both,” Benedict said his voice buttery-smooth. “Cali? Is that short for anything?” his eyes, as black as night, held mine.

  “It’s short for Calista,” I replied, wary.

  “Benedict, I thought I’d show Anna around.” Faith handed mum a teacup and saucer then gestured to the table. I heard the women move behind me as I kept staring at the tall, elegant man in front of me. The feeling in my stomach grew stronger with each passing minute.

  “Good idea, sweetheart,” Benedict said. He gave a small smile which made me tense up. He stepped around me and moved towards his wife and my mother. I was about to turn around when I saw a movement from the corner of my eye. Moving my gaze sideways I saw Orlie take the last step of a hidden staircase.

  “Orlie, these are our neighbors,” Faith said when she spotted her son. “This is Anna and her daughter, Cali.”

  I saw mum sipping her tea and eyeing the tall, skinny boy who was now standing beside me. Her eyes were bright and when she lowered the cup I saw a slight smile on her lips. I groaned inwardly, knowing she wanted me to find someone, and one day, give her grandbabies.

  “It’s nice to meet you both,” Orlie said in his smooth voice. “Mum, I thought I’d show Cali around.” I saw Benedict slightly frown at his son’s idea. He stayed silent, but his eyes bored into me like two hot pokers. I felt myself edge closer to Orlie. The feeling had spread throughout my body and was screaming: ‘danger, danger, danger’.

  “What a good idea,” Faith said, smiling. I couldn’t help but smile back as the woman’s grin mirrored her son’s.

  “Come on, I’ll show you my room,” Orlie whispered in my ear. I knew no one had heard him as they didn’t bat an eyelid at his request. I followed him up the stairs and came out onto a second level. Orlie took my hand, grinned, and led me to a closed door with a poster of Marilyn Manson taped crookedly to it.

  Orlie gave me a sexy, heart-melting grin as his free hand pushed open the door. He stepped over the threshold, our hands still linked.

  When I stepped into the room my mouth fell open. I heard the door close behind me then felt Orlie’s hands slide onto my hips. “What do you think?” he asked softly.

  “It’s…beautiful in person,” I said, turning in his arms. His hands rested on my lower back while I slid my arms onto his shoulders; my fingers tangling in his hair. “It looks different, up-close-and-personal.”

  “There’s nothing you haven’t seen from across the gap.” He kissed my forehead, trailing delicate kisses to my eyelids, nose, stopping at the edge of my mouth. I groaned when he pulled away.

  “I want to kiss you,” I whispered, gripping his shirt in my hands. “Hey, you’re not wearing your trench coat.” Orlie chuckled.

  “I don’t wear it twenty-four-seven.” He moved a hand to my shoulder and started to twirl a lock of my hair. “I want to kiss you too,” he whispered.

  I moved away from him and went over to the queen-size bed covered in a chocolate brown comforter and pillows. I trailed my fingers over the intricately carved bed-end then noticed that the cupboard was carved with the same rose pattern. As I took in several family photographs, sitting on glass shelves, I felt Orlie watching me. When I glanced over my shoulder I saw him sprawled out on the bed, his arms under his head.

  “I thought you’d have more stuff.” I saw a model car sitting amongst the frames. I turned and headed over to the bed. I climbed over Orlie who rolled on to his side, facing me.

  “I don’t like to accumulate material objects.”

  “I’d hate to know what you think of my room,” I said as his hand crawled onto my stomach. “It’s full of material objects…I just call it junk.” Orlie grinned.

  “I enjoy your room very much.” His hand crept up to below my bra. “I especially like the toy tiger you keep in your bookshelf.”

  “My dad gave that to me when I was little.” I took his hand off my stomach and kissed his fingertips. The room grew silent as I listened to our soft breathing. When Orlie sat up I looked at his strong back and broad shoulders.

  “I want you to meet someone,” he said, twisting around to look at me.

  I sat up, shuffling to the side so I could sit beside him. “Who?” I asked, sweeping primrose-blond hair out of my face.

  “My sister.” Orlie stood then helped me to my feet.

  “You have a sister?” I wiped a hand down my singlet. “I thought our kind could only be together every hundred years?” I was confused and curious.

  Orlie opened his door and followed me out of the room. He didn’t answer my question as he guided me to a closed door down the hall. In bold, black letters was a sign reading, ‘Enter at own Risk’. Orlie knocked then faced me, a huge grin spreading across his beautiful lips. I opened my mouth to ask him about the sibling thing again when the door opened. Instead of asking my question, I said, “Twins!”

  Standing in the doorway was a girl with long wavy dark brown hair; teardrop eyes the color of caramel, and skinny like her twin brother. Her lips were the color of roses and when she grinned it was crooked.

  “Cali, this is my twin sister, Aurelia,” Orlie said, his hand resting on my back.

  “It’s Aurie,” the girl said, throwing a dark scowl at her handsome brother. “Hi, it’s nice to meet y
ou,” Aurie said, hugging me. Her body was cool against mine as I returned the embrace.

  “Hi, it’s nice to meet you, too.”

  “Can we come in Aurie?” Orlie asked as we pulled apart. Aurie nodded then opened the door wider. I felt the siblings watching me as I entered the dark bedroom. The plum curtains were pulled closed, blocking out the sun, and a faint light was coming from a Care Bear nightlight. As I looked around I noticed that Aurie’s room was the total opposite to Orlie’s. Where Orlie’s walls were bare, Aurie’s walls were covered in posters and unframed photographs.

  “Do you think it’s too much?” Aurie asked sitting on the side of her bed. The queen-size bed was covered in a black comforter decorated with pastel pink and blue stars; the pillows were pure black.

  “Ah, no, it’s a great collection.” I moved closer to the far wall and saw posters of different bands: The Cranberries, The Dead Weather, Florence and The Machine, a young Madonna, Paramore, and Passenger; to name a few. “I love these bands.”

  “I’ve been collecting them for years.”

  Moving to the next wall I take in her collection of family photographs. Several match photos from in Orlie’s room and some are different. “You’ve been to France, America, and New Zealand.” I looked at Aurie who was standing beside me. Orlie was leaning against the door jam, watching me.

  “We’ve travelled the world for the past few years,” Aurie told me. “This is in London, standing in front of the London Bridge.” I took a closer look at an 8 X 10 photograph; a beaming Faith was standing next to a silver-haired Benedict. A cheeky grin brightened Orlie’s young face as he perched on his father’s shoulders and Aurie was snuggled on her mother’s hip, smiling her crooked smile.

  “Aww…you two were so cute.” I gently touched Orlie’s childish face then smiled when I felt his hands on my waist.

  “If you two are going to be lovey-dovey then get out,” Aurie said, flopping onto her bed.

  “Let’s go,” Orlie whispered in my ear. I heard Aurie groan.

  Lying on Orlie’s bed, I tucked my hands under my head and closed my eyes. Several seconds later I felt Orlie climb on top of me. When I open my eyes his handsome face is hovering above mine while he held his weight off me. Lowering his head, Orlie plants small kisses all over my face, down my neck, and across my collarbone.

  My hands make their way onto his back and my fingers swiftly pull the fabric of his shirt up so I can touch his cool, hard skin. When I run my fingernails up and down his sides I feel Orlie shiver in my embrace.

  My legs automatically circle his waist and my back arches as his breath dances over my skin. When his lips move closer to my mouth I go to turn my head, but he pulls away.

  “Sorry,” I quickly whisper. “I got lost in the moment.”

  As smile tugs at his crimson lips. “We need to be careful.” His thumb softly caresses my temple.

  “Why?” I asked moving my hands to his shoulders. “You’ve never told me why we can’t kiss…or do anything else.” I pouted making Orlie chuckle. I felt his stomach move against mine.

  “We, our kind, can’t be together until its right.”

  “The hundred year thing?” he nodded. “But why can’t we do things while waiting for the right time?” I moved a hand to his cheek, brushing my thumb across his dark red lips. “We could try?”

  Orlie’s eyes closed and he sighed; it sounded heavy-hearted. His right arm moved to my leg and he effortlessly disentangled me from him. I let my arms drop to my stomach as Orlie crawled off me and shuffled to the far side of the bed.

  I stayed on the bed while staring at his back. I knew he had something on his mind and I had to wait for him to share his thoughts.

  “Cali, if I tell you everything about us then it would clog your mind. It’s best for you if I tell you in segments.” Orlie looked at me over his shoulder. “Do you understand?”

  “Yeah, I do, but you haven’t told me much.” I sat up, moving around the bed, and sitting beside Orlie who looked uncertain. “What would happen if you told me everything? Would I disappear? Would I go crazy?” I smiled, but Orlie shook his head, staring at his hands.

  “I’m not sure,” he muttered.

  I moved my hand to his knee. “Tell me why we can’t kiss and I’ll drop the subject for today.”

  His black-blue teardrop eyes levitated to my face. It took a moment for him to speak and when he did his words were matter-of-fact and full of hesitation. “A Daybreaker, as you know, is born during a red sun and can only mate once every hundred years.” I wanted to smirk, but the look in Orlie’s eyes made me stifle it. “Nightfallers are born during a blue moon and can mate once every hundred years. If they mate beforehand,” he grimaced, “disaster happens.” The smirk spread across my face and I began to giggle. I saw Orlie scowl, but I couldn’t stop myself from laughing.

  “It’s not funny, Calista,” Orlie said in a firm, dark voice. This made the giggles vanish and I sobered up quickly.

  “I’m sorry.” I went to touch his hand, but Orlie stood, moving closer to the window overlooking my empty bedroom window. “Tell me. I promise not to laugh. Orlie, please tell me!”

  Orlie folded his arms over his chest and bowed his head. I was about to go over to him, but he started talking. “If we kiss then it’s a matter of life and death.” His voice was a near whisper and I had to concentrate to catch his words. “Daybreakers can give life and Nightfallers can take life.” his troubled eyes finally find mine. He stays silent as I let his words sink in.

  “If we kiss…” I said slowly, “you could kill me.” Orlie winced, turning his back to me. I felt tears threatening to spill. “But I can give life,” I croaked pathetically. I wiped my eyes, hoping Orlie wouldn’t see me crying, but he had turned to see my cascading waterfall.

  He came over to me, wrapping me in his cool embrace. “I’m sorry,” he whispered in my hair.

  “Why does this have to happen to us?” I buried my face in his shirt. “It’s not fair.” Orlie’s hands swept up and down my back while mumbling words to comfort me. When the tears had subsided, I laid my cheek against his chest and listened to the rhythmic beating of his heart.

  “Cali…” his hands moved onto my shoulders, gently pushing me away so he could see my face. “I love you.” his breath blew over my face as his words take me by surprise. I step back, tensely avoiding his eyes.

  “I-I should go.” I turn to leave, but his hand grabs my wrist. I know Orlie’s wary about my response and when I pull my hand away he lets me leave.

  Stumbling down the stairs I smack into a wall. When I stagger back several steps I see it’s not a wall, but Benedict, Orlie’s dad.

  “Cali, are you alright?” he asked, putting his hands out to steady me. When I took another step back Benedict lets his arms drop to his sides.

  “I’m fine,” I say, looking up into his eyes. My body suddenly tenses as a memory penetrates my mind…

  A toddler was unsteady on chubby legs. The little girl was laughing and clapping while a tall man tumbled on the grass in front of her. He grinned before grabbing the girl and laying on his back, the child on his chest. As the man patted her back his whispers, “I love you, Cali-girl!” As the toddler gazes into her father’s adoring face a shadow was cast over them. The man shifted his gaze from his daughter to the male now standing over him.

  He placed the little girl on the grass then stood, leading the newcomer to the edge of the yard. As the girl was distracted by a butterfly the men spoke in hushed voices.

  “What do you want, Ben?” the father asked, curious.

  “She’s a beautiful child,” the newcomer said. “What’s her name?” he brushed his hand through silver hair.

  “It’s Calista.” He moved himself in front of the silver-haired man, blocking his view of the child. “What do you want?” his voice was firm while saffron-blond hair gleamed in the bright sun.

  The silver-haired man took a step closer. “She’s an abominati
on,” he snarled. “She’s not a full-blood. You should be ashamed of yourself, Dharkar.”

  “I’ve told Anna nothing of our kind. She isn’t a threat to you, Benedict, and neither is Calista.” The saffron-blond haired man, Dharkar, went to turn away, but the silver-haired Benedict grabbed him, pulling him into his body.

  “You’ve broken the law, Dharkar, and you have to be dealt with.” As Benedict spoke, he pulled something from his pocket. Before Dharkar could fight back, Benedict plunged a shiny object into his chest. At first it looked like a knife, but as Dharkar staggered back, his hands were clutching a glowing gold star.

  Benedict shielded his eyes as Dharkar’s body exploded into millions of bright sun beams that evaporated in seconds. The silver-haired man knelt in front of the toddler who was sobbing for her father.

  “I will see you soon, Calista.” As he stood, a gold star appeared on the back of Benedict’s neck.

  I snapped out of the memory and saw the silver-haired man gazing at me curiously. “Cali, are you okay?” his voice was full of concern and suspicion. He went to touch my arm, but I batted his hand away.

  “You killed him!” I growled, balling my fists by my sides. “You killed my father!” I was shaking with rage.

  “Who?” Benedict asked. I saw his eyes narrow.

  “Dharkar Blithe,” I hissed. “You killed him because he was with a human woman. That’s how you have that gold star on the back of your neck.” I felt like poking his chest, but I restrained myself.

  Benedict raised his hand, rubbing it absently over the back of his neck. “It was only a matter of time for you to find out,” he said darkly. He dropped his hand while his eyes took in my furious expression.

  “Why?” I heard my voice shake.

  “Because he broke the law! Dharkar mated with your mother, a mortal, and that’s a felony. He had to be dealt with.” He shrugged like it was an inconvenience.

  “Why didn’t you kill me or my mum?” hot tears were burning my eyes.

  “Anna didn’t know about our world and you were a toddler. I would’ve been killed if I took an innocent’s life.”

  I opened my mouth, but closed it again when words escaped me. I pushed past Orlie’s dad and ran home and up to my room where I threw myself onto the bed and cried for a father who I didn’t even know.

  My eyes were red, sore, and puffy when I made my way downstairs. Mum saw my face and her expression changed from happy to concern in a matter of seconds.

  “Cali, what’s wrong?” she asked, putting her book down. She stood from being curled up on the couch. “What happened, sweetheart?” her arms went around me, protectively.

  “I’m okay.” I sniffled. “Allergies…from Faith’s garden, I guess.” I rubbed my eyes while mum took in my puffy, red face. “I’m alright.” I felt bad for lying, but I couldn’t tell her the truth: I had just met my father’s killer.

  “Hmm…you’ve never been like this before.” she placed a hand on my forehead. “You aren’t coming down with something, are you?”

  “No, but I’ll take some vitamins just in case I am.” I went into the kitchen as mum closely followed. I splashed cold water on my face as mum poured orange juice into a glass. When I turned around I saw a garlic tablet and two Vitamin C tablets beside the glass of juice.

  “Thanks, Mum,” I said, picking up the tablets and throwing them into my mouth. I took several gulps of juice then smiled. “Stop worrying about me.”

  “I can’t help it.” she felt my forehead again then topped up my glass. “Drink it all up.”

  After finishing my drink I put the glass in the sink then slid onto a stool. “What’s for dinner?” I spotted a pizza menu lying on the island bench. I picked it up and started to peruse the options.

  “We could have Italian or Mexican.” Mum stood beside me. “Ooohhh that sounds yummy.” Her finger pointed to a picture of a seafood pizza.

  “I think Italian tonight,” I said. “I’m going to have the bacon and meatball pizza with BBQ sauce.”

  “Oh, that sounds good too.” Mum took the menu and started to compare the different pizzas. “Nope, I’m sticking with the seafood.”

  “I’m going to have a shower,” I said, pushing myself off the stool. “Are we getting cheesy garlic bread?”

  Mum grinned. “Of course and I’m splurging…let’s get chocolate-caramel mousse.”

  “That sounds good to me.” I kissed mum on the cheek then headed upstairs.

  The cool water made my skin turn goose-pimply and it was a welcome relief from the summer warmth outside the shower door. I submerged my face, holding my breath, and braced my hands on the tiled wall. I pictured myself as a toddler watching my father being killed for loving a mortal woman; my mother. How could I tell Orlie that his dad was a murderer? I didn’t want to hurt him, but he had to know.

  Pouring conditioner into my hand I lathered my hair making the air smell like lavender. Toweling myself off with a towel I pulled on underwear, mauve cotton boxers, and matching singlet. As I went into my room, a bead of sweat trickled down my neck. The cool shower was no match for the humid summer.

  I sat on the bed, pulling the brush through my wet hair, and watching as Orlie’s curtains gently moved in the warm breeze. I knew the dark room was empty as I couldn’t feel his eyes watching me.

  Entering the kitchen I saw mum sliding two pizza boxes onto the bench along with a rectangular box and two small tubs. “Good timing,” she said, picking up the two tubs and deposing them into the refrigerator.

  “Smells good.” I hoisted myself onto a stool then threw open the lid of the top box. It was my meatball and bacon pizza. I moved the box in front of me as mum opened the rectangular box and broke the garlic bread in two, tossing a half onto my pizza.

  “Let’s eat in front of the telly.”

  I was about to bite into a slice, but put it down. “Okay.” I carried my dinner into the living room and sat on the couch, balancing the box on my lap. “I don’t think I can eat all of this.” I picked up the loose slice and took a huge bite.

  “Oh, I’m sure we can try,” mum said, folding her legs under her butt and turning the TV on with the remote. “I haven’t seen this show in years. I see Alf Stewart’s still living in Summer Bay.” She shoved a piece of cheesy garlic bread into her mouth as we watched Home and Away.

  “Hmmm…he’s pretty cute,” I said as the camera panned on a tall, dark-haired male with ‘All or Nothing’ tattooed on his shoulders. A short girl with dark hair was snuggling up to him.

  “What did you think of Orlie?” mum asked out of the blue. “He seems like a nice boy.” When I stayed silent, she turned to look at me.

  I swallowed my mouthful of food, keeping my eyes on the TV screen. I stayed quiet, waiting for her to speak. When she didn’t, I cleared my throat and said, “Yeah, he’s nice.” I quickly shoved a piece of garlic bread into my mouth in case another question came my way. Mum made a noise in her throat before turning back to the TV.

  After dinner I went upstairs, cleaned my teeth, and went into my room. My desk lamp gave off a dim glow as I sat on the window seat and gazed up at the moon. A minute later Orlie appeared at my side.

  “Cali…” his voice was gentle, hesitant. He sat in front of me while I brought my knees up to my chest. I felt him watching me.

  “I’m okay,” I said, meeting his guarded eyes. “I’m sorry for leaving.”

  “I told you some tough stuff to hear.” He brushed a hand through his hair and I saw the silver flecks in his chocolate mess of hair. I watched as the locks fell across his brow then half-smiled.

  “I had to hear it,” I said. Neither of us mentioned the subject of love. I wasn’t sure if I shared the same feelings, but I knew that we had a strong bond. We were soulmate’s, after all.

  Keeping our gazes locked, Orlie reached out and took my hand in his. His thumb massaged my fingers while his midnight-sky eyes probed mine in the silence. “Tell me what’s wrong,” he finally
said.

  I shook my head, breaking our gaze. Orlie kept hold of my hand so I kept my eyes on our interlocked fingers.

  “Cali, I know something’s wrong. Did I do something?”

  “No!” I quickly answered. “You didn’t do anything wrong.” I saw doubt cross his dark eyes. I closed my eyes, pinching the bridge of my nose with my free hand. I took a deep breath then let it out slowly, opening my eyes. “Remember how I said my dad died when I was little?”

  “Yeah, I remember,” Orlie replied, nodding.

  “I was there when he was killed.” I glanced at the orange-and-black tiger sitting in my bookcase; the one my father had given me. I heard Orlie gasp as his hand slightly tightened on my fingers.

  “What?” he asked astounded. “You were there?”

  I slowly nodded. “Mum had gone to the shops and I was in the backyard with dad. He was mucking around…making me laugh.” I felt a tear slide down my cheek. Orlie reached out and brushed it away. “I was a toddler…this all came back to me when I saw the man who murdered him.”

  Orlie’s mouth fell open, gaping at me. After a moment he closed it and shook his head. “You saw your father’s killer?”

  “Yes,” I whispered, tears stinging my eyes. “I’ve seen him before.” I blinked, sending the tears down my cheeks. “It was your dad.” my voice was inaudible.

  Orlie’s expression turned to shock. He stayed silent while staring at me, unblinking.

  “Orlie, I’m so sorry.” I went to release my hand from his, but he kept a firm grip on it. “He killed my dad because my mum’s a human. That’s how he got that gold star on the back of his neck.”

  Orlie’s body jerked like he had suffered an electric shock. He blinked before saying, “How did you know about that?” his voice was thick with emotion.

  I bit my lip, noticing that his eyes were now black pools of anger. “Um…in the memory I had…Benedict plunged a shiny object into dad’s chest. It was a gold star,” I told him. “After dad exploded into a million sun beams, a gold star appeared on the back of Benedict’s neck.”

  Orlie stood and started to pace my room. His body was rigid and his hands were white fists. I knew he was furious at what I had told him.

  “I’m sorry,” I whispered. “I shouldn’t have told you.”

  Orlie spun on his heel, glaring at me. After a minute he took a shaky breath, slightly calming down. He sat beside me, his body still stiff. “We have asked him about the star-mark on his neck,” Orlie said darkly. “But he never gave a straight answer.”

  “I guess a gold star appears after taking another life?”

  “It only happens when a Falling Star is used,” Orlie answered. He held out his hand so I slid mine into his cool grip. “My parents are Elders.”

  “Elders?” I asked, curious. Orlie gave a small smile.

  “They are…old. ‘Elders’ is a loose term. All you have to do is survive a hundred years and you’re automatically an Elder.” He rolled his eyes. “Elders can only be killed by a Falling Star.”

  “How come your parents look younger than their actual age?”

  “We stop aging at a certain age. They look in their late thirties, but are a hundred-and-seventeen-years old.” His eyes turned amused. “Many years ago mortals thought of our kind as vampires and werewolves.” He chuckled.

  “Really?”

  Orlie nodded then his face suddenly turned dark and serious. “Cali, my father needs to be dealt with.” His eyes were those black pools of anger again. “He has to pay for murdering your father.” His hand gripped mine tightly making me cry out. He released my hand immediately, clenching his hands in his lap. I rubbed my fingers while Orlie seethed in the silent room.

  “Yes, he does, but I don’t want you involved in this.” I said, coldly. Orlie looked at me, frowning. Rage showed in his eyes, but confusion was joining the party.

  “What?” he finally asked.

  “I don’t want you to get hurt…Benedict’s your dad. I can do this on my own, but you have to teach me how to kill an Elder.”

  Orlie shook his head vehemently. “No!” he stood and started to pace again. “No way, Cali!”

  “Orlie…” I stopped when his pacing halted.

  “We should talk to my mum,” he suddenly announced.

  “Your mum?” I asked, surprised.

  The next day I practically ran home from school. I was relieved it was only a block away. Mum was at work so I dumped my bag on the couch and flew up to my room. I was anxious and excited about seeing Orlie’s mum, Faith, but I was frightened. We were about to tell her that her husband was a murderer.

  I had just pulled my shoes and socks off when I was joined by Orlie. He appeared in my room without a sound and I gave a startled gasp. He grinned, amused.

  “I need to get you a bell,” I joked, pulling out a pair of black-and-silver board shorts and a thin-strapped, black singlet.

  “What for?” Orlie sat on the bed, admiring me in my school uniform. “I do enjoy seeing you in a short, pleated skirt.” His eyes glinted as his tongue ran across his bottom lip.

  I teasingly lifted the hem of my skirt up a little more, showing off my leg, and then poked my tongue out at him. I heard Orlie groan while I balled my clothing up in my arms. “I’ll be back.”

  “Hurry back,” Orlie said, chuckling.

  I pulled off my uniform, throwing it into the dirty clothes basket, and tugged on my boardies and singlet. I readjusted my bra then went back to Orlie. “Are we going to talk to your mum now?” I asked, pulling my hair out of its ponytail. I felt Orlie watching me as I shook my hair out around my shoulders.

  “Yes.”

  I ran my fingers through my sun-colored hair. “What about your dad?” I saw his eyes narrow.

  “My father is on a business trip. He’ll be back tomorrow.” Orlie stood up and came over to me. His hands slid onto my shoulders and I felt his fingers in my hair. His eyes captured mine and I felt myself move closer to him. Orlie saw what I was about to do so he rested his forehead against mine. I sighed as my body screamed out for something more. A little voice in my head cursed at me when I stepped back.

  “We should get going.” I went to leave my room, but his strong arms circled my waist. I looked up allowing Orlie to gently kiss the corner of my mouth.

  “Hold on tight,” he whispered so softly it sounded like a breeze in the trees. He guided my arms up to his shoulders so I clamped my hands around his neck and moved closer to him; our bodies pressed together. I could smell his musky scent. “Close your eyes.” his hands slid around me, resting on my lower back. My body gave a small shudder.

  I closed my eyes and waited for him to move. When I felt his mouth against my forehead, I smiled. “Open your eyes,” he murmured against my skin.

  I slowly opened my eyes and saw his black t-shirt stretched over a hard, chiseled chest. Moving my gaze sideways I notice that we’re now standing in Orlie’s bedroom.

  “How did you do that?” I asked, stunned.

  A grin spread across his delicious lips. “It’s our ability. All you have to do is concentrate on where you want to go and you’ll appear there with no sound.”

  “I can do that too?” my excited voice went up a notch as Orlie stroked my hair. “I’ll have to try that out.” the room grew silent as the upcoming situation settled on our shoulders. “What about Aurie?” I lowered my voice as Orlie’s eyes turned sad.

  “She’s not here…” he said flatly. “I don’t want her involved.” He dropped his arms and turned towards the window; his back facing me. “I don’t want you or mum involved, either.” He shook his head angrily.

  I went over to him, running my hands up his back. I felt that his muscles were tense under his shirt. “I know you’re protective, and if I could deal with this on my own, I would, but I need you, Orlando.”

  Orlie faced me, his body slightly relaxing. He stroked my cheek. “I like hearing you say my name,” he said, his thumb brushing o
ver my lips. I smiled then hugged him tightly. His arms wrapped around me and he kissed my head.

  Following Orlie into the kitchen I saw Faith busying herself with menial tasks. When she saw us, a bright smile spread across her mouth. I saw her eyes flick down to my hand that was laced with her son’s.

  “Hello, Cali! I didn’t know you were visiting.” She wiped her hands on a tea towel.

  “I asked her to come over,” Orlie said. “Mum, can we talk to you about something?” I gently squeezed his hand.

  Faith’s eyebrows rose. “Oh, sounds serious.” She ran a hand over her hair. “Cali, would you like a drink? I have some cookies which I managed to save from Orlie who was demolishing them.”

  I tried to smile, but it was grim. “No, thank you.”

  Faith came around the bench and gestured to the table. “Sit down kids.” She was suddenly worried. I pulled out a chair and sat down. Orlie took the chair at the head of the table and his mother sat opposite me. Her caramel eyes never left her son’s face.

  I rested my arms on the polished rosewood table and waited for someone to break the growing silence. After a moment, Faith finally spoke. “What’s going on?”

  Orlie cleared his throat. “Mum…have you ever wondered how dad got that gold star on the back of his neck?” Faith glanced at me before shifting back to her son.

  “He doesn’t like talking about it, but I know Benedict has his demons.” She looked at her hands before facing me. “What has he done?”

  I glanced at Orlie who was watching his mother. “My dad was murdered when I was a little girl.” I felt tears stinging my eyes.

  “What was his name?” Faith asked as Orlie reached out, holding my hand.

  “It was Dharkar Blithe,” I answered in a small voice.

  Faith gasped. “Oh, dear!”

  “Did you know him?” Orlie asked, looking at his mother.

  Faith covered her mouth with a hand before lowering it. “I-I grew up with Dharkar,” she said solemnly. “He lived next door to my parents. Dharkar told me about our world.” A sad smile curved her lips. “He was a good friend to me.”

  “I thought Gran and Pa taught you about us.” Orlie was shocked and I saw interest light his eyes.

  “My parents wanted me to ‘live’ as humans did. I went to school and acted like mortals. Dharkar was the first person to acknowledge what I was. I could be my true self with him.” she looked at me. “He met your mum in our senior year.”

  “Really?” I asked, perking up.

  “Anna was a cheerleader and piqued your dad’s interest as she walked past him in the hall.” I grinned, absorbing Faith’s words. Mum rarely spoke about my dad.

  “What happened to Dharkar?” Faith asked quietly. I spent the next half hour filling her in on the memory that had hit me yesterday. As I spoke, I saw Faith’s eyes grow sad as I talked about her husband taking the life of an old friend.

  “He used a Falling Star to murder Dharkar?” Faith asked when I had stopped talking. I nodded.

  “That explains the star-mark on his neck,” Orlie mumbled. “Dad killed him because he fell in love with a mortal. He has to be dealt with.” He said ‘dad’ like it tasted sour. “He’s a murderer.”

  Faith slowly nodded while staring at her folded hands. “I want you two to stay out of this.” She looked up and her eyes were full of anger.

  “Mum…” Orlie started, but stopped when Faith glared at him. I saw Orlie flinch from her razor-sharp gaze.

  I reached across the table, taking her hands in mine. “Faith, I know Dharkar was your friend, but he was my dad. I want to help in revenging my father’s death, and I’m not taking no for an answer.” I squeezed her fingers. After a moment she nodded.

  “If Cali’s helping then so ‘em I,” Orlie said firmly. Faith sighed taking in her son’s serious expression.

  “Alright, but please be careful.” As Faith spoke her eyes moved from me to Orlie. We both nodded.

  A few days later…

  Sitting on the window seat I twirled my pen while my math book lay open in my lap. I was staring at the sky which was a kaleidoscope of baby blue, pastel pink, blazing red and golden yellow. It would soon be dark and as the time ticked by I grew more and more nervous about confronting Benedict.

  A knock on the door made me jump. “Cali, I’m going to work now.” Mum’s head poked around the door. “Sorry, did I startle you?”

  “Yeah, I guess I was focused on my math.” I held up the book making mum smile. “When do you finish tonight?”

  “It’s a late one, so don’t wait up. Love you.”

  “Love you too.” I listened to mum go downstairs and a few minutes later I heard the car pull out into the road. I tried finishing my homework, but I was soon distracted when I felt someone watching me. Turning to the window opposite mine, I saw a dark silhouette being framed by the curtains.

  “Is it time?” I asked, closing the math book.

  “Yes. Do you want me to come over?” Orlie asked.

  “Nope.” I stood up and moved to the middle of my room. I closed my eyes and thought about standing in Orlie’s bedroom. When I felt his hands on my waist I knew it had worked.

  “I’m impressed,” he whispered in my ear. “That was your first time and you executed it so well.”

  “Thanks,” I said looking up into his handsome face. I saw that his eyes were full of concern. I hugged him tightly. “Are we doing the right thing?” I asked against his shirt.

  Orlie’s arms held me protectively against him. “Yes.”

  We headed downstairs and found Faith standing at the sink, gazing out the window. The sky had grown black and was dotted with small twinkling stars.

  “Mum?” Orlie said. Faith turned toward us and managed a tiny smile.

  “Hello, Cali.” She took a deep breath then slowly let it out. “Have you had dinner, dear?”

  I glanced at Orlie who was watching his mum, frowning. “I’m okay, Faith, thanks,” I replied so she nodded.

  “Mum, can we talk?” Orlie asked, moving over to his mum who looked rattled. “Let’s go into the living room.” he placed his hands on his mother’s shoulders and started to guide her out of the kitchen. “We’ll be back,” he said to me over his shoulder.

  I sat at the table in the quiet kitchen and tapped my fingers on the smooth, polished wood. I was taking in the dark-stained cupboards and stainless steel refrigerator when I was joined by Benedict who looked surprised to see me.

  “Cali, I didn’t know you were visiting.” He had a coffee mug in his hand and a paper folded under his arm.

  “I just got here,” I said watching him closely as he placed the mug in the sink. I bit my lip as rage boiled inside me. I was facing the man who had made me fatherless for the last sixteen years. “I remember what you did.” I said the words before I could stop myself.

  Benedict looked at me, confused, before a dark cloud crossed his expression. “You accused me of murdering your father.” he crossed his arms over his chest. “Dharkar Blithe was a criminal.”

  “A criminal?” I said outraged. “What was his crime?”

  “Falling in love with a mortal. He broke a law and Dharkar needed to be punished.” Benedict looked amused as I gravitated towards him.

  “Why did you kill him? If he needed to be punished then you should’ve thrown him in prison.”

  Benedict sighed, irritably. “I’m not wasting my time with this.” he went to walk past me, but I shoved him into the stove. I heard his head hit he range hood as his eyes turned dark with anger. He grabbed my arms and shook me, hard. “How dare you!” he roared in my face. “I did our world a favor by exterminating that piece of trash.” He shook me again. “You should be begging me to let you live…you’re not even a full-blood.” Tears fell out of my eyes and this made Benedict sneer.

  “Let. Her. Go!” Orlie snarled from behind his father. Benedict tightened his grip on my arms, making me cry out, and then he threw me to the floor. I
hit my shoulder on the cupboard door and jarred my wrist trying to break my fall.

  “What did you say to me, boy?” Benedict growled. I lay at his feet in a heap. “She’s nothing but an abomination.” He pointed a finger at me.

  “Calista’s my soulmate,” Orlie fired back. He knelt beside me as his father chuckled menacingly, looming over us.

  “Your soulmate?” Benedict spat. “You are but a boy. Don’t tie yourself to a half-blood.”

  Orlie glared at his father while helping me to sit up on the floor. “Don’t call her that.” he wiped a tear from my cheek then pulled me to my feet. I noticed when he put himself between me and his furious father.

  A nasty smirk appeared on the silver-haired man’s lips. “Are you standing up to me, Orlando?”

  Orlie straightened his back while looking his dad in the eye. “Yes, I am. Cali is special to me and I won’t allow you to talk badly about her.”

  A silent minute passed before Benedict shifted his gaze to me. “You told him! You little bit-” he lunged past Orlie, reaching out for me. I jerked back as Orlie pushed him back. Benedict growled. “She’s a half-blood and needs to be killed! Nightfallers should reign the world!” His voice boomed in the kitchen.

  “You’re a murderer!” I yelled over Orlie’s shoulder. I cringed when Benedict’s black gaze bored into me. Before I knew what was happening, Benedict’s arm shot out, aiming for my throat. Just as fast, Orlie batted his father’s arm away causing Benedict’s body to shake with rage.

  The air crackled with tension as the men stared each other down. I thought it would go on forever, but again, Benedict’s arm shot out and his hand clamped around Orlie’s throat. Orlie sputtered and gurgled while his hands clawed at his father’s firm grip. I watched, frozen, as Benedict pulled his son towards him and pressed his lips to Orlie’s crimson mouth.

  The kiss lasted no more than two seconds and when Benedict released his grip, Orlie’s body crumpled to the floor. My body shook with fear as Benedict moved to loom over me. Before I could protect myself, Faith appeared behind her husband. I saw something odd clutched in her hand then realized what it was as she raised her arm and plunged it into Benedict’s back.

  “A Falling Star.” I quickly shielded my eyes when Benedict’s body burst into millions of tiny moonbeams. When I removed my hands I found Faith kneeling beside her son’s limp body.

  “Oh, no!” my hands flew to my mouth as tears rush to my eyes. I slowly sank to my knees as a sob rose in my throat. “Nononono!”

  “He’s dead,” Faith sobbed; her fingers on Orlie’s wrist. When our eyes met, hers mirrored my own: heartbroken and watery.

  “He can’t be…” I whispered. I gently touched Orlie’s shoulder and shook it, expecting him to open his eyes. But he stayed silent with his teardrop eyes closed. My vision faded in and out while my head started to spin. I went to steady myself, but the blackness swept me up.

  The soft pitter-pattering of rain guided me out of a deep sleep. I opened my eyes to a squint and saw a chocolate brown pillow under my head. I was lying on my stomach in a queen-size bed. It was Orlie’s bed. I could smell his musky scent on the sheet. My stomach clenched as last night hit me like a Mack truck.

  I rolled onto my back and reached towards the ceiling, stretching my arms. Tears stung my eyes. I took one last sniff of the familiar smell then climbed out of bed. I straightened the blanket before heading downstairs while smoothing out my clothes and finger-brushing my hair.

  The kitchen was empty and hazy from the dreary weather. I flicked my eyes to the place I had last seen Orlie, but it was just floor and bench. Pulling out a chair, I sat at the table and waited for Faith. I didn’t know what else to do.

  I was twiddling my thumbs when Faith appeared in the kitchen. She smiled, but it was forced and sad. “Good morning, sweetheart,” she said coming over to me. “How did you sleep?” Faith smoothed my hair with a motherly hand.

  “I slept okay,” I lied, folding my hands on the table. “Where is…” tears choked me up.

  Faith sat beside me, holding my hands. “He’s resting in the sitting room. I couldn’t bear to move my son to the basement.” Her voice trembled. We were both close to tears.

  “What about my mum?” I took a shaky breath then wiped my eyes.

  “I spoke to Anna while you were sleeping. She thinks you had watched a scary movie with…with Orlie.” Her voice shook saying her son’s name. “I said you slept over after having a late night. Anna rang your school and you’re having a sick day.”

  I managed a smile which vanished when I thought of Orlie. “What happened to him?” I frowned. “He was protecting me…did Benedict kiss him?” I sounded confused while searching Faith’s face for answers.

  “What did Orlie tell you about us?”

  I took a few minutes to recall what Orlie had told me. “Nightfallers are born during a blue moon…they can appear without sound…and they can take life.” my eyes grew wide. “He kissed Orlie! He took his life,” I said, bewildered.

  Faith gently squeezed my hands. “I’m afraid so.”

  I slowly nodded as a single tear slid down my cheek. My eyes stared absently at our hands. “Can I see him?” I murmured.

  Faith rubbed my fingers. “Of course you can.”

  I stood up and slowly made my way to the sitting room. I had never stepped foot in the room before, but I had seen it once in passing. The walls were cream, the floor was polished wood, and a six-foot fireplace sat dormant with two brown leather armchairs facing it. Bay windows showed the pouring rain outside, but my attention was claimed by the four-seater couch sitting in front of the dreary view.

  Lying peacefully beneath the windows, dressed head-to-toe in black was my soulmate. His long fingers were laced together on his chest and a maroon velvet pillow was placed under his head. Orlie’s chocolate brown hair was combed neatly, but the adorable flicks and waves cascaded over his ears.

  Tears raced to my eyes and a sob started to rise in my throat. I felt myself swaying on the spot so I lowered myself to sit on the coffee table. I leaned my elbows on my knees and rested my chin on my clamped hands.

  The tears I had been holding back surged forward with vengeance. The sob erupted while my cheeks were flooded. My eyes were blurry, but I never took my gaze off Orlie’s still body.

  “I’m so sorry…” I whispered. I reached my hands out to touch him, but I pulled back at the last second. “I should’ve done something; protected you.” I bowed my head and closed my eyes. My chest felt tight and my heart ached so badly.

  When cool hands touched me, I let out a shuddering sob. “Oh, sweetheart,” Faith said, sitting beside me, hugging me tightly. “Let it out. You’re alright.” Her voice was soft and motherly as she stroked my hair.

  When the tears dried up, I pulled away from Faith and wiped my eyes. “He shouldn’t be dead,” I said in an unsteady voice. “He shouldn’t be…”

  “Calista, Nightfallers can take life…” Faith’s eyes held mine as she spoke. “Daybreakers can give life.”

  I frown, staring at her confused, until Faith’s words register with my brain. “I’m a Daybreaker!” I faced Orlie’s still body, taking in his peaceful face. “What do I do?”

  “Follow your heart,” Faith gently said before standing and leaving the sitting room. I stare at Orlie for a few more seconds then reach out, laying my hand on his.

  “You told me that you loved me,” I said in a low voice. “I should’ve said it back, but I ran away.” I stood up and moved closer to the couch. I bent over Orlie’s body and traced his strong jaw line with a finger. “I love you, Orlando.”

  My lips gently pressed to Orlie’s crimson ones. They were tender and cool and lifeless. I scrunched my eyes closed and kept kissing him. After a minute I pulled away, scanning his face for signs of life. I sat down, hoping he’d come back to me.

  An hour passed. The rain settled into a rhythmic pitter-patter. Orlie stayed deathly still. I ran a
hand over my face then went to find Faith.

  “He hasn’t woken up,” I said, finding her sitting at the kitchen table, sipping a cup of tea. “How long does it take?” I slid into a chair opposite her.

  She put the china cup down and I saw her hand slightly shake. Faith clasped her hands together before saying, “It can take minutes, hours or a day. Death is swift, but life takes time.”

  “A day?” I sighed heavily. I closed my eyes and leaned back in the chair. “I can’t stay here.” I shook my head then stood up. “I’m sorry, Faith, for everything. You lost your family because of me.”

  “Do not say that!” Faith stood up, coming around to me. “This happened because of Benedict. He’s the evil one.” She held my hands. “My son adores you and I can see that you adore him too. He’ll come back to us.” She hugged me tightly.

  Entering my house I heard mum moving about in the kitchen. I quickly checked my reflection in the foyer mirror and saw that my eyes were bloodshot. I knew I looked like I had been crying, but mum would just put it down to a late night. I gave my eyes one last wipe then headed towards the sounds of my mother.

  “Hey, darl,” mum said when she spotted me. “Wow! You look like crap.” She smiled as I slid onto a stool.

  “I feel like crap.” I mocked a yawn. “How was work?” I leaned my arms on the island as mum finished the washing up.

  “It was long and quiet.” She hung the dish rag on the clean plates as the sink emptied down the drain. “We had about thirty customers over eight hours. I had to keep myself awake. How was your night?”

  “It was…okay.” I wanted to tell mum the truth, but I knew she wouldn’t understand. “We watched Wolf Creek and it’s really scary. You’d hate it.”

  Mum made a face. “I don’t know how you can watch scary movies.” she shook her head while rubbing her hands up and down her arms like she was cold. “I like romance and love stories.”

  I rolled my eyes making her punch my arm playfully. “What’s for dinner?” I asked as the rain petered out to the occasional shower. Mum had gone over to the refrigerator where an assortment of takeaway menus had been pinned with magnets. She perused the covers then plucked one from its frog magnet.

  “What about hamburgers?” she held up a menu with ‘Aussie Joe’s’ printed in bold black writing.

  “Sounds good,” I said, sliding off the stool. “I’m going to see if I can get some sleep.” I was being overtaken by tears again.

  “Okay, darl,” mum said putting the menu on the bench. “I’m going to the shops. We’ve run out of milk and bread.”

  I climbed the stairs and entered my room with a heavy heart and watery eyes. I sat on the window seat, bringing my knees up to my chest, and laying my cheek on my arms while staring into Orlie’s bedroom.

  “Please come back to me,” I whispered as his curtains danced in a cool breeze. “How can I survive an eternity without you?” the tears fell from my eyes, landing on my arms.

  As mum and I sat in front of the TV; eating overflowing hamburgers and slurping on soft drink, I felt a sudden shift in my body. The deep aching in my heart wasn’t as noticeable and the damned tears dried up all on their own. What did this mean?

  After dinner, I went upstairs after telling mum I wanted an early night. I grabbed my pajamas then headed into the bathroom. I scrubbed my skin then my hair and dried myself with a big fluffy towel.

  I sat on the window seat and brushed my wet, blond hair with its saffron and primrose hues. After fighting all the tangles, I braided my hair, letting it hang down my back. Glancing at the clock radio I saw that it was seven-thirty pm. I grabbed my math book and decided to try and tackle the remaining questions. After working out one equation I closed the book, going to bed.

  A warm breeze drifted over my bare skin as I stared into the dark. I was lying on top of the covers as the air was humid and the temperature was in the low thirties. Mum had mentioned it was thirty-two Celsius. It was a hot night.

  I stretched my legs out and folded my arms over my head making my singlet ride up on my stomach. As I slowly relaxed, my eyelids closed, and I soon drifted off.

  The red digits on the clock radio flicked to three am. Something had woken me from a deep sleep. I yawned then moved my arm across the bed. My hand was resting against something hard and cool. I turned my head and squinted into the dark. I saw an outline of a person. I was contemplating turning the lamp on when the object moved. A cool hand held mine; long fingers lacing with mine.

  Tears immediately jumped to my eyes.

  “Cali…” his velvety voice tugged at my heart.

  “You’re here! You’re breathing!” I whispered.

  Orlie rolled onto his side, his arm snaking around my waist, and he pulled me closer to his body. His tender lips found my shoulder and they slowly moved up to my neck, stopping on my temple.

  “You brought me back to life,” he murmured in my hair. I couldn’t answer. I sobbed while clinging to his shirt. His strong, protective arms cradled me while I cried against his chest.

  When my sobs finally ceased, Orlie kissed my head before moving his mouth to my ear. “I love you, too,” he whispered. “I always will.”

 
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