The sound of car horns, engines running, laughter and chatter was a welcoming sound that I didn’t realize how much I missed. I looked around me in complete awe. The smog-filled air, the constant movement all made me realize how much I missed home.
I took a deep breath, welcoming the fumes into my lungs as we stepped onto the busy street. I closed my eyes and welcomed the warmth, excitement, and vibrations of Young St.
“How’d we get from Scotland to Toronto?” I asked as I pulled my jacket closer to my body.
The Canadian fall was in full swing. Beneath the smell of car fumes, I could smell the fresh hint of frost. Winter would soon be hitting Toronto like a lion attacking its prey.
“Stepping through the veil allows you to walk directly back into the geographical place you're located, or into a place that you so choose.” He shrugged his shoulders. “I figured home would be a good place to go.” He smiled down at me before he began to walk down the street, following the rest of the large groups that made haste to their next destination.
“How did you know?”
“The town talks, plus Nix is the Queen’s best friend.” He pressed the crosswalk button. “Nix made it clear that you missed being home.”
I stayed silent as we walked down the street. I watched and listened to the sounds and people around me. Although Emerald City was small, a large part of me missed the hustle of a large city like Toronto.
“And after that conversation, your heart grew three sizes and you decided you would be nice to me and help me out?” I raised an eyebrow. His sudden kindness had not gone unnoticed.
He shoved his hands into his pockets as he let out a sigh. “I decided I should actually get to know you and not try and waste your time for just a night.”
“Not waste my time for a night?” I shook my head. “A one night stand is all you wanted from me when we first met?” I laughed. “You need to learn to read women better. I’m not a one-night stand type of girl.” I held my side as my laughter continued to bubble out of my mouth.
“Trust me. I figured that out.” He smiled. “I wanted to bring you here to show you something.” He said as he opened the door to a Starbucks.
I frowned and followed him in. The fresh smell of brewed coffee and warm muffins met my senses. Many of the tables were full of people, some in small groups, others by themselves using the Wifi to surf the web or complete a project. Valerian led me to the back corner. I sat down at the small table and watched Valerian move to stand in line to order us lattes.
I watched him as he stood there, his hand still in his pockets as he read the menu on the wall. His dark hair was windblown, it sat on the top of his head in a mess of waves. His golden-brown eyes reflected the light that shone through the windows. I hated to admit it, but he was an attractive man.
I took my eyes off him and looked around before my thoughts went any deeper than admitting that the vile Valerian was attractive. My eyes scanned over the faces of the men and women that sat in the store. Many were laughing, others sat quietly with headphones on while they read. I spent a few seconds watching the people in front of me before a head full of thick dark curls caught my eye.
I watched as the man moved to an empty table that could fit a large group. He pulled his computer bag from his shoulder and set it on the table. He pulled out the chair and sat down. I watched him as he ran his hands through his long curly hair before he pulled it back into a messy bun.
I stared at him wide-eyed as my mind placed who he was. I could remember the last thing he said to me, I could remember exactly the last place I saw him. I could remember this because Peter was the last person to see me before I went missing.
I quickly glanced over at Valerian as he sat down at the table across from me. He put my latte in front of me. I hardly registered that he had returned before my eyes snapped back to the table where Peter sat.
“Did you know he was going to be here?” I said, not looking back over at him to see if he was listening to me.
“I did. He’s not the person I wanted you to see though.”
I looked over at him. “What?” I narrowed my eyes at him. My mind was spinning at who else would be walking through those doors. “Who?” I asked.
“Its a group of people.” He shrugged his shoulders.
I frowned before I looked back over at Peter. A woman had joined him, I didn’t recognize who she was. She was a pretty woman. She was short with dark hair that she had pulled into a high ponytail. He greeted her with a kiss before she sat down next to them. I assumed that she was his girlfriend, he had never told me her name, but I remember that he had just started seeing a woman before he had left for Scotland.
It was the next two people that walked through the door that sent a cold shock down my spine. I could feel my hands begin to shake as they held onto the warm cup in front of me. I looked over at Valerian with wide eyes.
“I already said goodbye to him. Why would you bring me back here, and risk him looking over and seeing me?” I spoke slowly, my mind was a cluster of thoughts.
“He won’t see you. As far as everyone else is concerned you look like a chick straight out of a punk-metal band.” He smiled. “Dark hair and lots of piercings. Super hot.” He winked.
I didn’t have the patience to deal with his jokes. My eyes moved back over to the table that sat a few feet away.
“I wanted to show you that he’s okay. They all are.” His voice sounded far away as I watched Griffin sit down at the table across from Peter and his partner.
He looked good, really good. He had put on weight, the bags that had lived under his eyes for years were now gone. His smile was genuine. He looked really good, he looked happy. I smiled as I watched him talk.
“He looks good,” I whispered my eyes moving over to the woman that had walked in with him. My best friend from high school was sitting next to him. Her hand holding his on the top of the table. A piece of my heart twisted in pain while the rest of it pumped with happiness.
He had listened. He had taken the ‘vision’ that I had with him and he had moved on. He had gotten better and he had found someone else to love and that loved him back.
“Thank you.” I whispered and looked back over at Valerian. He smiled back at me before he took a sip of his drink. “I didn’t realize how much I needed to see that he was okay. Apart of me felt like I could just accept that I knew he would listen to me but never truly know.” I looked down at the steam that was blowing up from the top of my cup.
“It’s better to know than it is to just hope. Hope can only last for so long, and I figured you would feel better letting go of this world if you saw that everyone was doing okay.” His voice was soothing as he spoke. “They meet here every two weeks now. When you first went missing it was every week to get details on the investigation and to support each other. They all lost a friend.” He turned in his chair to look over at the group that sat there happily chatting and laughing. “You’re the reason they have such good friendships and the reason why Griffin was able to move on.”
I nodded my head as I followed his gaze over to the table. The small twist in my heart was slowly releasing. I was happy. I was happy for them and I was happy to see that Griffin was able to get the help he needed and take care of himself.
I turned back to Valerian and smiled at him. “Have you ever been up the CN tower?”
He looked over at me, surprised by the change of conversation and change of tone in my voice.
“No, I haven’t.”
“You’ll love it.” I said as I got up from my chair. “As long as you’re not afraid of heights.” I winked.
“I’m not afraid of heights.” He shook his head. He got up from the table and followed me out of the store.
I looked over at the table where my friends sat and smiled as I walked by. Griffin looked up at me. His eyes met mine, but they didn’t see past the magic that covered me. He gave me a friendly smile before he turned back to his friends.
I moved towards the door and stepped out into the crisp cool air. I looked back into the store one last time before I let the door go to close behind me.